Hennessy: French cognac with an Irish Name

Hennessy is known for being maker of the finest cognac in the world, a tradition they have upheld for over 200 years. The fact that is has garnered many awards and admirers is a testament to the quality of the cognac which have made many wanting to drink it.

hennessy cognac
Hennessy is associated with cognac and has set the standard others have followed. Credit: Yolanda Shoshana

The Story of Hennessy

Considering cognac or brandy is very French in origin, you might wonder why is there an English-sounding brand name.

Hennessy is named after the founder, Richard Hennessy who was from Ireland. He moved to France and served in the army of King Louis XV. After his service, he partnered with Jean Filloux (though he had several other business partners) to open a distillery in 1765. Fillloux would serve as Hennessy’s first Master Blender, a tradition passed on to succeeding generations. Yann Filloux is the current (7th generation) Master Blender of Hennessy.

Hennessy’s quality became famous around the world at that time. It has been exported to the United States which was then a newly independent country and gained a following there. It has also become the favorite drink of European royalty. King George IV of Great Britain even asked for a unique kind of cognac that would later be classified as VSOP. Russian Tsar Alexander I requested Hennessy to create a drink and the result was the Paradis Imperial. These underscore the reputation the distillery has made.

Jean Filloux was the one who set the standard that makes Hennessy distinct among the rest. He used only the highest quality brandy for aging in barrels made of the finest oak. With his unique techniques, he meticulously blended the brandy to create cognac that makes Hennessy stand out. All these techniques he developed and employed have been dutifully documented. His successors would add upon it in the succeeding years. They even have a library that houses these documents.

What Is Cognac?

Cognac is a type of brandy. This liquor is named after the town of Cognac, France where it was created. It is more than just a type but a form of classification that makes it distinct from regular brandy. The finest grapes are chosen from the vineyards located at the outskirts of town. The farmers of this town have been supplying Hennessy with the grapes and this has been going on to this day, a testament to the bond formed between the residents of the town and distillery.

It goes through a very careful process from the fermentation to aging where they are placed in wooden barrels (mainly oak) where the wood adds to the aroma                and flavor. The longer it is aged, the better. Hennessy has set the standard on how it is made. It has been followed by other distilleries. They even make their own barrels.

Cognac is then graded into the following depending on the quality. This grading system was created by Maurice Hennessy, the founder’s great-grandson. The grading process is more than just tasting the cognac. The grading committee will then talk to those involved in the processing from the farmers who supplied to grapes to the staff who stored the liquor in the barrels. Cognac is graded as follows:

  • VS (Very Special) – this is for cognac aged for at least two years.
  • VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) – aged at least four years.
  • XO (Extra Old) – stored or aged at least six years.
  • Hors d’age (Beyond Age) – stored over the official age scale.

Hennessy Drinks

Hennessy has created a plethora of cognac for more than three centuries. Some of them are special collections, cognac specially made for famous people or to commemorate special events. Go to the company website to see what they have produced.

What has made Hennessy renowned is it has been served to people from all walks of life. Today, they have collaborated with present-day celebrities to further promote their products to ensure it will never be outdated or relegated to the sidelines. So as long as there are those who seek quality cognac, Hennessy will always be ready to serve one up or make one if it has not existed yet.


Featured Image Source: Yolanda Shoshana

Aaron Ronquillo

Quizzer, Practical Shooter, Martial Artist, Movie Buff, Avid Reader, Amateur Foodie and Photographer, Cat Lover; Someone with a wanderlust; got a keen eye for detail, trivia; enthusiastic but cautious; patient, calculating