The days of enjoying drinks by the fireplace on a nippy night—think of a well-dressed gentleman lounging on a dark leather chair, a Bolivar Belicoso cigar on one hand and a glass of cognac on the other—may be coming to an end.
“If you want ice on your cognac, who’s to say that is wrong? Cognac these days means enjoying moments with your friends,” said Hennessy Ambassadeur de la Maison Fabien Levieux.
It’s all about celebration, chilling out and unwinding after a long day at work.
Hennessy cognac today is turned into refreshing cocktails, sometimes mixed with champagne to give it a sweet little kick.
But while Hennessy may be reaching out to a younger market, it is still deeply rooted in the traditions of its 251-year-old pedigree.
Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, an eighth-generation member of the family of cellar and master blenders long associated with the House of Hennessy, is now poised to succeed his uncle, the brand’s “gate-keeper” Yann Fillioux.
Such heritage ensures that the cognac enjoyed by its founder, Richard Hennessy, who established Maison Hennessy in 1765, is still the same blend people love today.
“We have the same flavor profile tonight in Manila that was experienced years ago in New York, or to be had years from now in Paris. Notions of elegance and excellence are key to the success of Hennessy X.O.,” Levieux said.
Maurice Hennessy—great-grandson of the founder of the House of Hennessy—first developed the special blend Hennessy X.O. (Extra Old), for the enjoyment of his friends. Through the decades, the Hennessy X.O. has become not just a best-selling product worldwide, but an icon of the House of Hennessy, an emblem that combines “knowledge transmitted by peers, an absolutely modern character and a visionary spirit.”
X.O. is not a very easy cognac to taste, said Levieux. It has a strong personality and extra old “eau de vie” (water of life). Spicy with a genuine masculine robustness, one drop is more than enough to experience its flavors. “The texture is rich intense tannic—exactly how it was designed 147 years ago,” he noted.
Cognac is a variety of brandy that consists of grapes of the ugni blanc varietal, hence the tannic mouthfeel that can be very intense. The ugni blanc produces crisp, light and aromatic white wine with low alcohol content and high acidity—exactly what Hennessy needs for its cognac.
Cognac is made from its distilled spirit, or what is called the eau de vie.
These grapes are not produced for table wines. That will make for a heavy spirit. A light wine for distillation will give an elegant spirit. And that’s the centuries-old trade secret of the coveted Hennessy cognac—how its spirit can remain elegant and graceful despite the rugged and tough mouthfeel.
Its aromatic structure with sharp, peppery notes is tempered with the gentle spicy warmth of cloves plus the leathery, velvety mouthfeel.
Levieux said that because of the complexity of its flavors and its undertones, Hennessy X.O. cognac can be paired with a variety of dishes.
If the spirit is a little too much, one can always drink it on the rocks. The ice, when melted, will coat the tannins to make them feel even smoother while keeping and respecting the flavors.
“You can reduce a little bit the alcohol content for a rounder and smoother drink,” Levieux pointed out.
Paired with aged French cheese, sea bass, wagyu ribeye, grilled lobster or even the contrasting flavors of some Pinoy dishes, Hennessy cognac can be very flexible.
For more info, visit Hennessy here.