Iconic. Legendary. Exceptional. Join Pursuitist on our video journey as we take you inside Cognac, France, with Hennessy.
As a guest of the renowned 250 year old spirits brand, we were invited to visit the Cognac region of France and experience an exclusive glimpse into the making of this enchanting and creative spirit, including Hennessy Paradis Imperial.
Hennessy became the world’s best-selling cognac with painstakingly perfection and precision. Like a fine artist, Hennessy creates with mastery and expression.
Hennessy, founded in 1765, is the largest Cognac house. Hennessy’s eaux-de-vie are aged exclusively in French Oak from either the Limousin or Tronçais forests. The Hennessy headquarters are in Cognac, France, and their facilities flank the right and left banks of the Charente River.
After a short journey by train from Paris, we arrived at the Hennessy distillation plant. 8th generation Hennessy family member and brand ambassador Maurice Hennessy warmly greeted us upon our arrival.
The impressive distillery is very large with high ceilings. Barrels of Hennessy lined the walls and surrounded massive copper distilling apparatuses. With the magic of copper, wood, bricks and fire, the professional distillers revealed a little of their expertise. We learned about each of the key steps in the distillation process: the wine, the “brouillis”, the heads and tails, and finally the heart.
We were offered a tasting of Hennessy XO in a new glass that was designed by the famed designer Thomas Bastide. Bastide has been working with Hennessy for the past 30 years and was once the creative director for Baccarat.
Heritage is at the heart of Hennessy with Master blender Renaud Fillioux de Gironde. The eighth generation master blender took on the prestigious role last year. Renaud samples thousands of eau de vies each year, working Monday to Friday and tasting every day at 11am with a team of six carefully trained tasters.
Introduced in 2011, Hennessy Paradis Imperial is the product of 250 years of savoir-faire. The Fillioux family have aged and protected an elite selection of eaux-de-vie over time, at last making it possible to create this rare blend.
The art of Cognac doesn’t stop there. We traveled to the countryside to see how the Hennessy Barrels are made. The barrel maker carefully places French Oak plants together in a ring and then places this over an open fire. The fire softens the wood so that it is shaped with greater ease. He places more rings around the barrel and pounds it in with a hammer, spats water around the barrel to dampen it, and must use ultimate precision to create this masterful work of art.
Later in the evening, we experienced an incredibly exclusive tasting experience of Hennessy Paradis Imperial. Located in the Hennessy Founder’s Cellar is a multi-sensory art installation by Marshmallow Laser Feast. Two years in the making, it consists of a robot arm holding a light, darting through the dark, while encased in a glass-and-wire cage. The thrilling contemporary art installation celebrates the art of Cognac, depicting the complexity of selecting eau de vies used to blend and create Cognac.
Hennessy Paradis Imperial is exquisitely refined and a blend of more than 100 eaux-de-vie, aged for a minimum of 30 years. Its amber color reveals a nose of the freshness of the first flowers of the summer. A light smokiness echoes its distinct spices revealing a true form of expression. This blend can be compared to the precise yet delicate nature of a premier ballerina.
Lastly, we visited the Hennessy bottling facility called Pont Neuf. This impressive structure is located in the countryside and features a seductive architecture facade. This 100 million Euro investment is located on 30 hectares of land with approximately 2.8 million square feature of space over two levels. With 24 million bottles being produced annually here, the facility only has about 70 employees at a time. 92% of waste is recycled and 40% less energy is consumed than a standard building. This is truly the building of the future and Hennessy takes pride in its sustainability and innovative environment work.
Hennessy Paradis Imperial defines the art of Cognac. The unprecedented alliance of age & finesse, Paradis Imperial is a Cognac of magisterial complexity, balance, and the finest texture, continually revealing new tones of expression and delicate floral essences on the palate.
This article was originally published on Pursuitist. Republished by permission.