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Things you (probably) didn't know about Hennessy

Here are six surprising facts about our beloved cognac. How many did you already know?

Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège & X.O

From happy-go-lucky cognac sippers and all the way into the lexicon of American pop culture: generations of Hennessy drinkers have enjoyed their cognac over its centuries-long existence. Here are a few anecdotes that we thought would be fun to share with the world.  

1. Hennessy's founder was Irish.

That's right, the founder of Hennessy, Richard Hennessy, was an Irishman who moved to France during the mid-eighteenth century. The name Hennessy, in fact, refers to an ancient Irish clan and comes from the Gaelic Ó hAonghusa, which means 'descendant of Angus'. And even though our founder was Irish, everything about our cognac, its making, and savoir-faire, is French.


2. If Richard is the founder of Hennessy, what does "Jas. Hennessy" on an Hennessy cognac bottle mean?

Wonder no more! The story goes something like this: Jacques Hennessy, the son of the founder Richard, was the one who took Hennessy to another level and who turned it into a truly successful firm. How did he manage to do that? He started "James Hennessy and Company" brandy merchants in 1813. And that's how "Jas. Hennessy" ended up on the label! But wait a minute, that still doesn't add up: Jacques... how can that be Jas? Fun fact, the names Jacques is French for James and Jas is a shorter name for James!

Hennessy X.O Focus

3. Hennessy was sold as a medicine.

It was a dark time in America from 1920 to 1933, today also known as the Prohibition era. But Hennessy could thrive during this moment in America because of one man, William Schiefflin, who sold Hennessy cognac through his family's drugstores. Schiefflin & Co. It might be hard to imagine that today, but this is how it went down, and Mr Schiefflin eventually became a significant liquor distributor, in fact so crucial to Hennessy's success that Moët Hennessy bought the company in 1981.

Cognac Hennessy

4. The Olympian Herbert Douglass was once Vice President of Hennessy

Back in 1968, Hennessy made waves by promoting Olympian Herbert Douglas to vice president, making him one of the first African-American VPs in corporate America. Through his resilience and trailblazing mindset, he elevated Hennessy to its highest potential and promoted minority hiring and mentorship within the company.

5. Nas is Hennessy's official brand ambassador.

Hennessy brand ambassador, Nas, was a Hennessy man long before he began collaborating with the company. He dropped the name "Hennessy" on the very first track of Illmatic. Twelve albums later, they are still together. And he still drinks Hennessy Very Special!

Hennessy V.S decanter on a table

6. It takes ten years to become a professional Hennessy taster.

Ten years of apprenticeship on the Tasting Committee (Comité de Dégustation), that's how long it takes to become a professional Hennessy taster. The Tasting Committee, a selected group of tasting experts who evaluate each eau-de-vie that goes into Hennessy cognac, meets every day at 11 am to put their palate to work. And according to Yann Fillioux, Hennessy's 7th Generation Master Blender, ten years of apprenticeship is what it takes before you can call yourself a taster extraordinaire. Why is that? Ten years is the time it takes somebody with normal abilities to train and organize their memory. You receive information through your taste buds and nose, but you have to connect it with references in your memory, and that's why it takes so long.


    Since 1765, Maison Hennessy has perfected the art of cognac-making, a tradition perpetuated by eight generations of Master Blenders. A legacy of cultural openness lets Maison Hennessy shine around the world, wherever its celebrated cognacs are shared.

    In 1817, James Hennessy created a unique blend for the future King George IV of England. From the encounter of these two visionaries, was born the first Hennessy “Very Superior Old Pale,” know today as Hennessy V.S.O.P.

    The savoir-faire of the Maison Hennessy is fully expressed in this balanced cognac: the selection of eaux-de-vie, aging and assemblage. A cognac of remarkable consistency and vitality, Hennessy V.S.O.P conveys all of the savoir-faire of the Hennessy master blenders who have ensured the continued success of this harmonious assemblage for 200 years. 


  • Hennessy X.O 

    In 1870, Maurice Hennessy created Hennessy X.O for his circle of friends and introduced a new style of cognac.  Hennessy X.O is the Original, the emblematic icon of the Hennessy Maison. 
    Deep and powerful, the eaux-de-vie of this Hennessy X.O cognac are aged in young barrels and marked out by their power and energy, but also by their capacity to achieve a great roundness through time.
    Our Tasting Committee has explored every facet of the blend and identified several emotions that were assimilated to an Odyssey through 7 chapters: 

    • Sweet Notes: The palate is warmly embraced by flavors of candied fruit.
    • Rising Heat: The intriguing sensation of an intense, rising heat slowly reveals the complex taste of eaux-de-vie patiently aged in oak barrels.
    • Spicy Edge: Perception of a strong spicy cognac note, tantalising the lips and palate with its distinct peppery flavor intertwined with a hint of chocolate. 
    • Flowing Flame: A wave of warmth grows, crests and then breaks. A robust presence, full and voluptuous, is felt. 
    • Chocolate Lull: There is the gradual discovery of something very familiar. It is the well-rounded flavor of a rich, dark chocolate.
    • Wood Crunches: A striking sensation is suddenly felt – the vigorous ebb and flow of oak notes interlaced with vanilla.
    • Infinite Echo: The evanescent oak notes leave a long, omnipresent finish in their wake. Seemingly endless, it echoes all of the subtleties of each taste and sensation that has preceded it.