The number one maison de Cognac
The cognac vineyard
Some tips about cognac


Above all, Cognac is the name of a small town, located in the South West of France, on the sides of the Charente river. This town is situated 100 km North of Bordeaux, the very famous wine region.

Thanks to its very specificlocation, Cognac has a unique climate, resulting of the Atlantic ocean and continental influences.
The nature of the subsoil is also quite particular, mainly chalky, which allow the vine to grow up perfectly.
That's why we usually say that Cognac region has a unique "Terroir". (Combination of the weather and the subsoil's nature).
But of course, cognac is also the name of a wonderful spirit.

Since the 18th century, many companies has decided to produce and sell this spirit very far from its birthplace ...
Let me tell you how it happened, by telling you one of the most beautiful success story of the number 1 cognac company : Hennessy.



In 1745, Richard Hennessy, an Irish man fighting with french against English, discovered and falled in love with Cognac region. He doesn't want to go back home and establishes there his firm in 1765.
Thanks to the right choices, a policy made of Excellence, Dare and Modernity, Richard conquered rapidly the world.
The first bottle of Hennessy cognac is sold in New York in 1794 !
It was the last step for Richard who died in 1800, but his descendants decided to follow his legend.
The reputation of Hennessy cognac were then worldwide. In 1817, Georges IV ordered an excellent pale cognac. The Hennessy Master Blender created "Hennessy VSOP".

In 1870, Maurice Fillioux, the Hennessy master blender, decided to create the very first XO quality. That's why today, the Hennessy XO is called "The Original".
In 1902, James Hennessy undertakes an extensive trip from Cognac to India and Australia and the very first advertising campaign is born.

Some important dates :

1828 : Russia - 1860 : Calcutta, Peru, Chile, Peru - 1868 : Japan - 1872 : - Shanghai - 1874 : Australia - 1889 : Singapore - 1893 : Germany ...

The partnership is a very important policy for Hennessy. That's why the Moet Hennessy group has been created in 1971, symbolising the "Wedding" between the Moet&Chandon family Champaign and the Hennessy family.
Thanks to its success, the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group is constituted in 1987 to create the biggest luxury group in the world.

The Number 1 maison de cognac

The brand is the world leader of cognac. Every second, 35 shots - 1 bottle and half - of Hennessy cognac are drunk in the world.
Roughly 800 people today are working only for Hennessy Company in Cognac.

Today are working together the 7th generation of Master Blender (Fillioux family), and the 8th generation of the Hennessy family.

The Cognac vineyard

With 75 000 Ha, the cognac vineyard is 2 times bigger than the Champaign vineyard. Hennessy owns 25 000 Ha for it needs.
The vineyard is divided into 6 specific areas : Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Fins bois, Borderies, Bons Bois, Bois ordinaires.
Each of them will produce a different grape, a different wine and consequently a different cognac.

Some "Maisons" don't use the 6 areas. Remy Martin use only Grande & Petite Champagne for example. Hennessy only uses 4 areas. This will contribute the style of each brand.


Cognac Process

Cognac is made with grapes. Ugni Blanc is the main grape variety used in the cognac industry because it gives a light and fruity wine, very suitable for the distillation.
The grapes are harvested in September. They have to be pressed gently in order to extract the fine juice from the grape.
To remove the undesirable components of the juice, it is filtered before going into vats for the fermentation.


The fermentation is going to take few days during which yeasts are transforming the sugar of the juice into alcohol. Thus, the result of the fermentation will be a white wine of pale yellow color, with a fruity elegant nose, crispy light palate : the most suitable for distillation.



After fermentation the wine will be placed into the first part of an alambic : the boiler, for the 1st Fermentation. After boiling, the lightest vapors will evaporate and be selected by the "still head" and the "swan's neck". The heaviest vapors will remain in the boiler.
Then the condenser will cool down the vapours into drops hence liquid.
The resulting liquid will be collected into 3 parts : Head - Brouillis (25% abv) - Tail. Only the Brouillis will be kept.
This takes 12 hours for the 1st Distillation.
On the same process, thanks to a 2nd Distillation, 12 hours more, the "Brouillis" is going to be distilled to produce the final spirit called the "heart of the distillation" : This will be the EAU DE VIE (70% abv.)
This can not be called a cognac yet because it hasn't mature 2 years.

Basically, we need 24 hours to transform wine into "eau de vie" and 9 bottles of wine to make a bottle of eau de vie.Top


After the distillation, the eau de vie will be placed into oak barrels. These barrels are made with french oak, air dried during 3 years, and slightly toasted on fire. The barrels are very important because they will have a strong influence on the structure (sweet, harsh, mellow...), and the aromas (spices, wood, fruits, flowers ...) of the spirit.

There will be an exchange between the spirit, the wood and the air. The evidence of this exchange will be the 2% evaporated spirit called : "The Angel Share".
Then, the cognac (called "eau de vie" before 2 years old) is going to spent from 2 to 200 years for the oldest ones inside these barrels.
Hennessy has the most remarkable, oldest and rarest stock of "eaux de vie of the world".


At the end of the ageing process, the eaux de vie are blended together (different areas, vintages, and ages) to make a final cognac. In the Hennessy Company, this the job of Yann Fillioux, the master blender.
The challenge consists for him in finding the "perfect blend" every year to make the same consistent product.
After the final blend, the cognac is bottled and shipped., after a very strict quality control.


Some tips about cognac

- A cognac is ready to be drunk right after bottling. Ageing a bottle of cognac is useless.

- When a bottle of cognac is open, you can keep it during decades. It is a stable product.

- If you want to store your bottle of cognac, keep it vertically, in a dark place, with no big temperatures gaps.

- Before serving a cognac, show the bottle with label, and leave the client watching it.

- There is plenty of ways to enjoy a cognac : neat, on the rocks, as a long drink, in a cocktail, with water (still or sparkling) ...

- Encourage the food pairing with cognac !! (chocolate, fois gras, lam, caramel, ...). Some matching revealing each component can be absolutely gorgeous !


Tasting "ceremonial" :

First, take the cognac in your hand and look at it. Its color can sometimes give you a clue on its age or what kind of barrel have been used. If it has been matured in new oak cask, its color will be deeper and ambre.

Then you nose your cognac once, this is the "first nose". You can find some light aromas. Swirl your glass a bit. It will release heavier aromas, less volatile, and put your nose quite deep into your glass.

Finally, take a sip of your cognac, don't swirl it into your mouth, because it's a spirit, not a wine. Wait a while, and then breathe by bothyour mouth and nose. This will help you to identify all the families of aromas.


Range Tasting

The best way to give you the notes is to taste the Hennessy range. Not because it's the only one i know, but because according to me, this is probably the best complete, complex and interesting one.


Very Superior Old Pale. Created in 1817 for the King of England. Made with about 60 eaux de vie, aged up to 15 years.

  • Color : Pale amber color

  • Nose : Elegance between flowers and spices

  • Taste : Honey, spices, caramel overtones - sweet, mellow, profound

  • After taste : not so long

  • Ways to enjoy : Neat, long drink, cocktail, mizuari

XO :

eXtra Old, created by Hennessy company in 1870. Made with about 100 eaux de vie, aged up to 30 years.

  • color : deep amber

  • nose : spices, fruits, flowers, wood - balanced and powerful

  • taste : prunes, plums, fig, matured and candied fruits, cloves, cardamon, violet - masculin, rich

  • aftertaste : long and persistant

  • ways to enjoy : neat, on the rocks, with water (still or sparkling)

Private Reserve 1865 :

Created for the 1st century of the company, with 11 eaux de vie, only coming from Grande champagne area, and aged up to 50 years.

  • color : bright amber

  • nose : very floral and delicate

  • taste : flowers, spices, dried fruits, complex, feminin

  • aftertaste : elegant and persistant

  • ways to enjoy : neat

Paradis Extra :

Created in 1979 by Maurice Fillioux with more than 100 eaux de vie aged up to 130 years.

  • color : intense

  • nose : spicy and vegetal

  • taste : spices, wood, flowers - carressing and sensual

  • aftertaste : feminin and persistant

  • ways to enjoy : neat, on the rocks, "givre" (-23 C. !), (+cigar)

Richard Hennessy :

Created in 1996 by Yann Fillioux in tribute to the founder. Made with more than 100 eaux de vie, aged up to 200 years.

  • color : very deep.

  • nose : spices, over matured fruits, tobacco, rancio

  • taste : spices, old wood, old fruits, fine flowers - masculin, full bodied

  • aftertaste : complex, and huge

  • ways to enjoy : neat (+cigar)

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