You may think, that with Hennessy’s ability to innovate and push boundaries, they are a thoroughly ‘modern’ Cognac brand. This is a large part of their immense success and influence. The very French brand based in the Charente region, in fact, dates all the way back to 1765 - to Ireland - but have managed to shapeshift enough times to remain more relevant than ever before - with current Master Blender Renaud Fillioux. Their range of uber-trendy products is ever expanding, and their marketing campaigns all the more captivating. There is no doubt that ‘Henny’ culture is alive and kicking: both Cognac and a fifth of Hennessy are mentioned in what seems like hundreds of songs.
Visit Hennessy: 8, rue Richonne ,16100 Cognac ,Visit the distillery from May until October to get an impression of this unique history.
Interesting facts you probably didn't know about Hennessy
1. While they do not own their own vines like other producers, Hennessy’s centuries of savoir-faire means that their eighth-generation Master Blender, Renaud Fillioux, is an industry expert. He knows exactly which of the thousands of eaux-de-vie to select from the vast Hennessy ‘Paradise’ cellar.
2. Hennessy invented the XO Cognac category in 1870 - characterized by its sinuous decanter that has been reimagined on countless occasions. They have since gone on to invent the XXO Cognac - challenging industry standards and yet remaining staunchly in touch with savoir-faire carefully assembled throughout the ages.
3. The word ‘Hennessy’ and ‘Cognac’ appear in an incredible amount of hip hop and rap songs - over 1000 - to be precise. Stars such as Nas, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Notorious BIG have been known to sing (or rapping) their praises for the prestigious spirit.
4. Hennessy operates from the Charente region in France, the home of Cognac, but was founded by an Irishman - Richard Hennessy.
5. In 2009, a limited edition of Hennessy VS was launched in honor of USA’s first colored president Barack Obama. The bottle was designed with gold lettering on a black background and carried the slogan “In Honour of the 44th President”.
6. The brand is owned by Moët Hennessy, which is in turn owned by LVMH and Diageo.
7. With the launch of Hennessy Black in September 2010 in Frankfurt, Hennessy has further targeted the nightlife scene, commissioning DJs to create individual master tracks.
8. The rarest products are Cognac Ellipse, the Cognac Richard and of course the “Beauté du Siecle”, a particular blend of reserves designed by the artist Jean-Marie Othoniel in an edition of 100, which is worth 180.000 Euros on the market today.
A History of Jas Hennessy & Co
The French brand was founded in 1765 by Richard Hennessy. After his death, his son James continued the family business and turned it into a well-functioning Cognac house. It was actually him who created the brand Hennessy in the first place and called the company Jas Hennessy & Co.; the name it carries to date.
Under his leadership, the company expanded rapidly with a range of products and was passed on to the next generation within the family, until in 1971 Kilian Hennessy created the group Moet Hennessy in a merger with the Champagne producer Moet et Chandon.
Later on, in 1987, this group further merged with the luxury clothing brand Louis Vuitton, creating the largest luxury product conglomerate in the world: LVMH. Kilian Hennessy was part of the advisory board of the company until his recent death in 2010 (at the age of 103 years!).
There is another family tradition that goes hand in hand with that of the Hennessy's. Namely the seven generations of Hennessy cellar masters from the Fillioux family. This tradition has allowed for the Cognac house to uphold the most exquisite quality and pass on its expertise from generation to generation. The Fillioux cellar masters have built the most extraordinary reserves of vintage eaux-de-vies in the world.
Today, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde is the head cellar master at Hennessy; he continues to represent this family tradition. He took over from Yann Fillioux in 2018.
Hennessy has always been at the top of international trade, with an establishment of the first agency in London in 1840, the first deliveries of bottles to Japan in 1868. In 1872 Hennessy reached China.
In 1992, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first shipment of Cognac to Asia, Hennessy chartered an old-fashioned sailing ship and called it “Spirit of Hennessy”. The aristocratic family of Hennessy is a fascinating story of success. Other family members, who did not get involved in the Cognac business were successful in different fields such as the affairs of the state or other commercial enterprises.
Today, Hennessy is the leader in the Cognac business with international sales of around 50 million bottles a year. The company makes its biggest percentage of profit through international export.
With the consistent launch of new products like the bottles “Pure White”, “Hennessy Black”, or “Fine de Cognac”, Hennessy continues to open up to new markets.
The US Hip Hop scene is perhaps the best example. By making Cognac popular amongst Afro-American musicians, the drink has taken on a younger and more trendy image. Hennessy mixed drinks such as Hennessy and Red Bull (Crunk Juice) or cocktails like Sin (Cognac and Gin) have introduced a whole new customer range. Rappers like Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, P. Diddy and Kanye West are proclaimed Hennessy fans.
They are particularly noted for their global campaign with US rapper Nas, called Wild Rabbit in tandem with the VS Cognac.
Throughout the month of February 2019, Hennessy launched a 'WE ARE' content series to celebrate Black History Month in February. These included exceptional video content of inspiring African-American artists and innovators, to empower the next generation. Collaborations included ASAP Ferg the rapper.
The Hennessy XO is constantly reimagined, the latest being a visually stunning four-minute feature-length film called ‘The Seven Worlds’ by a world-famous director, Ridley Scott.
To celebrate the 2019 Chinese New Year, the number one Cognac brand joined forces with Guangyu Zhang, a Chinese artist, to reinterpret the Hennessy XO decanter and design.
Hennessy celebrated the latest edition of the VS Limited Edition Cognac with a collaboration with Portuguese urban artist, Vhils. The result was a cutting-edge decanter.
The cost differs a lot. Let's have a look at a selection of bottle prices (in order): The youngest VS can be purchased for € 25 or € 30.
Hennessy Pure White should be sold at a price of about € 30 to € 40, and a bottle of Hennessy Fine VSOP Champagne price is about € 50, The XO cost is € 150.
Hennessy Richard is at a price of about € 2000 and Hennessy Prestige Ellipse price at a massive € 7600. Finally, the price of luxury flagship Hennessy Beauté du Siècle is € 180 000.
The Hennessy museum is a must if you are in the region. It has been entirely refurbished to give visitors one of the most cutting edge insights into the world of Cognac - particularly if you're wondering where Hennessy is made. A visit begins with a scenic boat trip across the River Charente, before going on to discover the various stages in Cognac production - you will see the genesis of the process from the grape, to distillation, to maturing for decades in oak casks.
The museum boasts a large collection of bottles, and a chance to see all of the most intricate and iconic of Hennessy labels that you can also see on our blog - alongside a large array of historical material to bring the impressive history of this Cognac house to life.
Visits take place from Nov 1 to Dec 31, from Monday to Friday (except on public holidays) and from April 1 to Oct 31, 7 days a week (except May 1). Closed from Jan 1 to March 31 (reservations possible from Monday to Friday from 10 to 12 am and from 2 to 4 pm).
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