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Cognac

Hennessy


  • Hennessy is the best-selling cognac in the U.S. and in the world. It is blended from the top four crus (or growths) of the six delimited regions in cognac, giving it great complexity and ensuring that it is always drinking at its peak. Hennessy uses unique distillation methods in which each batch of wine is double-distilled to achieve the most flavorful, elegant eau-de-vie (literally, water of life) as possible. Each eau-de-vie is aged to concentrate the best qualities of the wine. Hennessy’s casks come from the world’s best coopers for optimal taste and smoothness. Hennessy has the finest selection of old eaux-de-vie in the world.
    The house has been run by eight generations of Hennessy’s along with seven generations of master distillers from the Fillioux family. This lineage gives the cognac unequaled consistency of style and quality



    The Three Pillars
    Down through the years since 1765, Hennessy has been associated with excellence and mystery. Behind its closely guarded doors, the Hennessy Comité de Dégustation (tasting committee), unparalleled in the world of cognac – creates our most unique and elegant blends, thanks to its priceless heritage: the largest and most diverse reserve of eaux-de-vie in the world. This delicate alchemy and unique knowledge gives birth to some of the most extraordinary cognacs.


    This savoir-faire, passed down across 250 years, rests on three pillars, each elevated to the level of an art form:
    - the selection of the eaux-de-vie
    - their maturation
    - their blending


    At the time of selection, the quality of the raw eaux-de-vie, the result of the distillation of white wine along with their origin, are the two criteria that count the most. But beyond the selected crus, it is the potential of each eau-de-vie and its ultimate purpose that will guide the considerations in ensuring each is used in the very best way possible.

    The maturation process is the second pillar. Age is not the only criterion of excellence. The expertise in the art of ageing consists of identifying each eau-de-vie at the peak of its development and its most complete expression.
    Blending, the final step, reveals the character of each eau-de-vie, combining it with others in a perfectly harmonious ensemble that enhances and surpasses its individual elements.

    An incredible alchemy takes place, skillfully orchestrated by matching certain eaux-de-vie with others, according to their age, their character, their power. These subtle and mysterious combinations, an accomplishment of the Hennessy expert knowledge, cannot occur without the Comité de Dégustation – a committee of experts unequaled in the world of cognac.

    These tasters collectively evaluate each eau-de-vie at each step of its development. Relying on a priceless heritage – the reserve of eaux-de-vie which rest in the Hennessy cellars from the time of their creation – the Comité has the greatest freedom to create extraordinary blends, embodied in the brand’s different cognacs.

    It is for these reasons that for 250 years Hennessy has been able to preserve and perpetuate its expertise, and to establish a unique style with such a variety of expressions.

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  • The 1700s
    Despite its long history as a French company, Hennessy was actually founded by an Irishman, Richard Hennessy, born in 1724 and the son of an Irish nobleman. When he was barely 20 years old, this son of the Lord of Ballymacmoy left Cork County and joined the Irish Brigade of King Louis XV. One battle followed another – 1745- Fontenoy during which he was wounded, 1746 – Flanders, 1748 – Cherbourg… Each time he won the admiration of his peers. The battle of Fontenoy gave the "brave and gallant" gentleman the chance to win fame fighting the English. From this bravery, the Hennessy company later adopted the bras armé (translation: "armed" arm, depicting a fist clutching a hatchet) as its symbol. The symbol had appeared on the family crest and included their motto: "vi et armis vivo" ("I live by force and by arms").


    Later while stationed on the Ile de Re' (an island off the west coast of France), Richard Hennessy discovered the charm and mellowness of the Charente region– the region named after the river that runs through it and through the town of Cognac. As he had served in the French army for 12 years, he was able to gain French citizenship and stayed in the Charente region and joined the eaux-de-vie trade. In 1765, Richard Hennessy decided to start his own company and founded the House of Hennessy.

    During this era, it was customary that the barrel coopers were also the blenders, but Richard Hennessy made a bold move by hiring Jean Fillioux to be the first master blender at Hennessy. The current master blender at Hennessy, Yann Fillioux, represents its seventh generation of blenders at Hennessy.

    The building that would eventually become Hennessey's celebrated Founders Cellar was originally built in 1774 as a potter's storage facility, giving it the name La Faïnencerie. The house of Hennessy later purchased the property to be used as a cellar for its cognac and today is home to their oldest and rarest cognacs.


    The Cognac region is north of Bordeaux and with the ease of exporting the wines up the La Gironde river and out to the Atlantic, the export business for cognac and especially for Hennessy in particular was critical. Even though Richard Hennessy had fought against the English when serving in the Irish Brigade and the spiritual heart of the company may have been in Ireland, London was the heart as far as sales. The majority of exports of cognac would first go to London and then out to the rest of the world – the conquests of new markets for Hennessy were tied to British conquests of the new world. Outside of the British Isles, the other large markets were Australia and the United States. Hennessy arrived in New Amsterdam (the then name of New York City) in 1794 and was imported by Schieffelin & Company. Note that at this time, congac was shipped in casks. It wasn't until the 1870's that Hennessy was being regularly shipped in bottles. The year 1911 marked the final shipment of Hennessy in casks!



    The 1800s
    Richard Hennessy died in 1800, leaving the distillery to his son James who named the company Jas Hennessy & Co. in 1813.

    Hennessy created the first classification system for cognac in 1865 when they launched the "Three Stars" cognac ("Trois Etoile") which later became Hennessy V.S. This star system was inspired by the design of the window latches on the window in the tasting committee room at Hennessy.

    It wasn't until 1870 that well-aged cognacs became fashionable and Maurice Hennessy, grandson to James, introduced Hennessy X.O, which stands for extra old. (As of 2016, the official minimum ageing requirement for X.O cognacs will be lengthened to 10 years). Hennessy X. O cognac was originally created in 1870 by Maurice Hennessy for the exclusive enjoyment of the Hennessy family. (With that innovation, however, the Hennessy firm is credited with the invention and establishment of this quality level.) This was sold in post-phylloxera (a pest that devastated all of France's vineyards in the late 19th century) times as "extremely old" since it was able to prove its valuable provenance at a time when the industry was fraught with fraud.




    Other important dates for the house of Hennessy include:
    1794 - First sale in New Amsterdam, present-day New York
    1788 - James Hennessy, Richard's son, takes over the house
    1795 - First sales in North America

    1804 - First order for cognac in bottle
    1808 - Order from the Spanish court
    1817 - King George IV of England orders V.S.O.P (A quality designation meaning Very Special Old Pale)
    1828 - First export to Russia (St. Petersburg)
    1829 - First print advertising
    1830 - Hennessy leads trend towards shipping via (cask) barrels
    1840 - Purchase of Chateau de Bagnolet by Auguste Hennessy, the son of James
    1850 - Introduction of the bras armé or V.S (A quality designation meaning Very Special)
    1859 - First shipment to China
    1860 - Export to Calcutta and Havana; same year in which Hennessy accounts one-quarter of all Cognacs sold worldwide
    1868 - First shipment to Japan
    1870 - Hennessy creates its first X.O, which stands for extra old

    1902 - James Hennessy travels to Australia and India to promote his Cognac
    1909 - Boundaries of the Cognac crus designated
    1911 - End of shipping in cask (barrels)
    1922 - Hennessy changes US agents from Blackbird to Schieffelin
    1936 - Congac cru designation made into law
    1946 - The Bureau National Interprofessionel de Cognac (BNIC) is founded
    1947 - Hennessy establishes its own Quality Assurance/Quality Control Lab, the first in the Cognac region created
    1951 - Hennessy is first cognac marketer to place an ad in Ebony magazine
    1971 - Creation of Moët Hennessy
    1987 - Creation of LVMH

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  • Hennessy is the number-one selling cognac in the US, with 55% of the market, and is the world's largest producer of cognac. The company's 200 hectares (about 500 acres) of estate vineyards provide a tiny fraction of its needs, so the rest of the base wines and eau-de-vie for production come from other outstanding suppliers in the region.

    Hennessy has been run by eight generations of Hennessys along with seven generations of master distillers from the Fillioux family. This continuity gives its entire line of cognacs unequalled consistency of style and quality.




    Hennessy, like all cognac, is made starting with an eau-de-vie. An eau-de-vie is the (double) distilled base wine used to produce brandy. Hennessy's eau-de-vie are acquired, either aged (80% of purchases) or un-aged (20% of purchases). These eau-de-vie are purchased from 1,700 suppliers throughout the region, and Hennessy purchases around 50% of the production of the entire region (the region of Cognac is the 3rd largest vineyard region in France).

    Hennessy's blenders scour the entire Cognac region to find the very best parcels worthy of going into Hennessy. This purchasing provides the assurance of balance in all Hennessy cognacs, since it enables the House to find all of the necessary elements of aromas, flavor and texture that define the Hennessy style.

    Hennessy prides itself on strong relationships with the individual growers, as well as an insightful understanding of the important qualities required for first-rate cognacs. Not all houses want to purchase the highest quality eau-de-vie, since they are the most expensive. Not all buyers are capable of recognizing the highest quality eau-de-vie with the best potential for making outstanding cognac.

    Prices paid for eau-de-vie are determined by each individual cognac house. Hennessy sets the price offered to potential suppliers based on the quality of the eau-de-vie. It offers the best prices in the region for the highest quality supply.

    Hennessy produces its cognacs from the top four sub-regions of the Cognac district: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois. This diversity gives Hennessy its great complexity, and also ensures that it is drinking at its peak. Eau-de-vie from Grande & Petite Champagne are not used in V.S and V.S.O.P styles because they require longer aging than those from the other regions.

    The House oversees every step in the production of its cognacs, from grape growing to wine production to distillation and aging. It sources its own wood for barrels and employs its own coopers to make them. Most of its barrels come from the world's top cooperage, Taransaud.

    Hennessy has the largest collection of aging cognac of any producer, with a capacity of over a quarter-million casks. These aged spirits are invaluable in the blending process, giving each bottle of Hennessy structure, consistency and a strong connection to its past. These aged cognacs are tasted once a year by the Tasting Committee to survey their maturation and quality.

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  • Hennessy V.S
    A benchmark in the art of blending, Hennessy V.S is quintessentially Hennessy. With its unique style, Hennessy V.S is the modern-day equivalent of the original Hennessy Three Star, and is the world’s most popular cognac of globally recognized quality (as well as the fifth largest premium spirit in the world). With its union of warm-hearted and full-bodied flavors, Hennessy V.S has endured through the ages and continues to seduce connoisseurs searching for a very special moment.
    V.S is a blend of more than 40 eaux-de-vie primarily from Borderies and Fins Bois.



    The Power of Blending
    On the nose, Hennessy V.S brings together an intense and fruity character with pleasant oaky notes.
    On the palate, powerful flavors suggest grilled almonds, supported by lively notes reminiscent of fresh grapes.


    Fundamentally Hennessy
    Demanding in its creation, yet immediately satisfying to taste, Hennessy V.S maintains its inimitable style across time.
    As a reflection of Hennessy’s know-how, V.S audacious personality is the result of carefully selecting only the most expressive and distinctive eaux-de-vie. After several years of maturation in French oak casks, the eaux-de-vie are then blended with the mastery and consistency unique to the Maison Hennessy.


    A Unique Moment
    Share Hennessy V.S to create a unique moment of enjoyment: savor it neat, on ice or with a mixer (such as apple or
    cranberry juice, ginger ale, cola or club soda) to reveal the liveliness of its character.




    Hennessy Black
    Distinctively smooth. Delicate flavors are punctuated by fresh and vigorous notes, achieving a surprising finesse. Hennessy Black is a stylish original cognac, which may be tasted neat or combined with a mixer.


    A Fresh Smoothness
    On the nose, jasmine floral notes boldly make an immediate statement. Hints of citrus and honey follow, contributing a softer, warmer note.
    In the mouth, Hennessy Black keeps these unexpected flavors, also releasing the cleansing characteristics of white flowers and fresh grapes.


    An Alluring Contrast
    Smooth from the first aromas, yet intense throughout the tasting experience, Hennessy Black is an alluring, multi-faceted cognac.
    Carefully selected and subtly matured in old oak barrels, the Hennessy Black eaux-de-vie play across the palate, revealing the most surprising flavors: a remarkable duality between smoothness and intense freshness.


    Extremely Versatile
    Very easy to mix, thanks to its smooth, rounded character, Hennessy Black can also be enjoyed in shots or as the key ingredient in a variety of long drinks.





    Hennessy Privilege
    History
    In October 1817, the future King George IV ordered a Very Superior Old Pale (V.S.O.P) from Hennessy. The initials V.S.O.P appear for the very first time on registers of sales of Hennessy cognacs exported to England.

    Blend
    The complex and delicate blend of around sixty eaux-de-vie is made distinctive through the subtle presence of several from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. Aged in barrels, which are free from powerful tannins, these eaux-de-vies provide Hennessy Privilege V.S.O.P with its delicate sophistication.

    Style
    A balanced and harmonious cognac, the richness of the aromas offered by Privilege's nose stimulates the senses: elegant woody notes that spark spicy bursts of cinnamon and ripe fruit. In the mouth it becomes complex, releasing delicious, melting sensations of honey and liquorice, leaving the last word to aromas of grilled almonds and candied fruit.


    Hennessy X.O
    History
    X.O was created in 1870 for the personal consumption of Monsieur Maurice Hennessy, his family and friends. X.O was sold in, and exported to Ireland that same year then in China from 1872. X.O, the original in the eXtra Old category, was re-launched in 1947, in the famous vine-themed flask designed by Gérald de Geoffre.

    Blend
    At Hennessy, X.O is composed of over a hundred old eaux-de-vie, comprised of aged cognacs - some of which are over 30 years old. A long ageing in young Limousin oak barrels helps create a rich and powerful cognac thanks to the tannins in the wood.

    Style
    X.O is a cognac that is generous in its rich, spicy aromas with complex hints and underlined by oak and black pepper. A first wave in the nose of dried fruits gives way to denser, chocolate aromas softened by cinnamon, clove and cardamom notes. Balanced, elegant and robust in the mouth, X.O reveals the fullness and harmony of its aromas supported by the power of pepper and vegetable notes. A beautiful, velvet-cloaked finish adds a few notes of cinnamon and vanilla.


    Hennessy Paradis
    History
    In 1979, Maurice Fillioux created an outstanding blend composed of eaux-de-vie laid down by his grandfather, bringing Hennessy Paradis to life.

    Blend
    Paradis is produced by successive blending bringing together hundreds of prestigious eaux-de-vie. Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne form the basis of the Paradis blend. Some of these eaux-de-vie are preserved in the Founder's Cellar. The oldest cognacs date back to the 19th century.

    Style
    As heady and sensual as a tuberose, interwoven with spicy points, softened by bursts of dried flowers, Paradis plays on these aromatic paradoxes. A fireworks display of olfactory sensations, Paradis' spicy notes are flavoured with honey and truffles. None of this disappears in the mouth; everything reveals itself, with the aromas settling into place, forming a silky harmony with a very long finish.


    Richard Hennessy
    History
    Richard Hennessy represents the soul of the company, a combined work by time and Hennessy expertise. Richard Hennessy was created by Yann Fillioux in 1996 for enlightened connoisseurs.

    Blend
    Richard Hennessy cognac is a blend of over a hundred eaux-de-vie, some drawn from the Founder's Cellar, created in 1774. These eaux-de-vie, a number of which date back to the first half of the 19th century, mostly come from the best vineyards on the best plots in Grande Champagne with just a few from Petite Champagne, Borderies Fins Bois.
    Its rarity and quality find full expression through the eaux-de-vie from the 1st part of the 19th century which mainly originate from Folle Blanche, a grape variety replaced by Ugni Blanc following the phylloxera crisis.

    Style
    Richard Hennessy, a complex cognac with infinite aromas, marries compositions from the past and present with the freshness of eternal youth. This gives it the architecture to provide perfect balance.

    The nose gives, in turn, the aroma of delicate flowers, spices and pepper with a dominant note of nut and candied fruit. In the mouth it delivers the quintessence of its taste, with its candied fruit notes within an imperturbable harmony.

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  • Pro-Active Environmental Policies at Hennessy
    Hennessy has long been concerned about the environment and as far back as 1997 it made it a specific management issue within the company.

    In 1998, Hennessy was the first wines and spirits business to achieve ISO 14001 certification, which has been renewed every 3 years since.

    Our industry obliges us to take stringent action to protect third parties and the natural environment. Maison Hennessy's strong regional involvement and its international scope have always led those at the helm to consider that our business cannot grow without taking sustainable development imperatives into account.

    Our action in this realm also affects all those partners who work with and for us: suppliers of wines and eaux-de-vie, other suppliers and businesses that work on Hennessy sites and are involved in our activities.

    Putting the brakes on environmental drift and providing a legacy to future generations of an environment worthy of the name: this is why it is Hennessy's duty to lead the cognac industry, providing an environmental benchmark.

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