FROM GRAPE TO BOTTLE
The process of making cognac is long and sophisticated. Locally grown Ugni White grapes journey through six major steps from the moment they are gingerly picked from their vines to that first sip as an exceptional cognac in your glass.
FROM GRAPE TO BOTTLE
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Hennessy and its partners support sustainable viticulture.
EVERYTHING BEGINS WITH THE GRAPES
Once a year, perfectly mature grapes must be harvested quickly and with precision. The mechanical harvests of the Charente vineyards allow extreme precision, both in quality and quantity. Ugni Blanc grapes are perfectly suited for our distillation process. A late-maturing varietal, it strikes the right balance between high acidity and a low alcohol content, which is ideal for well-balanced eaux-de-vie.
COGNAC CAN BE CRAFTED ONLY IN COGNAC
A spirit which bears the Cognac Protected Appellation of origin (PDO) has to comply with regulated specifications, its grapes must be grown in Cognac, and the wine made from them produced here, defined by strict borders encircling the Charente River. You can taste the difference.
AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
The vineyards of Cognac have an exploitable surface area of approximately 75,000 hectares. This land is divided into six crus.
THE CYCLE OF LIFE
Throughout the year, we follow the vines’ natural lifecycle. As winter falls, we prune and tie the barren vines. In the spring, the sap rises from the roots. The first leaves and buds appear. An unmistakeable scent fills the air. The first fruits appear in summer, the warmth of the sun maturing them in time for the Autumn harvest.
TIME TO CONCENTRATE
Our distillation process has remained unchanged for centuries. Precision is key.
TRANSFORMING WINE INTO EAU-DE-VIE
Between October and the 31st of March, at the latest, the distilleries are busy day and night. Passionate artisans fill, monitor, and cosset the traditional Charentais copper stills. This process of transforming wine into eau-de-vie harnesses the liquid’s volatile compounds. A long, delicate distillation preserves the soul of the wine.
NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE
Double distillation is required to make eaux-de-vie for cognac. In the first, a raw spirit called “brouillis” is produced. The second distillation produces a much higher alcohol content. Only the middle part, the ‘heart’, is saved. This clear, colorless liquid is called eau-de-vie.
12 kg - 9 L - 1 L
It takes approximately 12kg of grapes to obtain 1 litre of eau-de-vie. Pressing the grapes produces 9 litres of wine. Distilled once, this results in 3 litres of brouillis. Distilled a second time, it generates one litre of pure eau-de-vie.
TIME AND TALENT GO HAND-IN-HAND
We don't just age our eaux-de-vie, we 'raise' them.
BARRELS OF DEDICATION
Eaux-de-vie and wood age together for years, exchanging flavors and colors. Each eau-de-vie demands years of labor, as well as rotation between different barrels, so that it can reach its full complexity.
Our eaux-de-vie are raised in chais – special, carefully monitored cellars. Temperature and lighting are important factors. Eaux-de-vie aged in more humid chais, close to the Charente river, can be mellower and rounder. Those raised in drier chais may have more character.
A UNIQUE INVENTORY
The Hennessy reserve is one of the largest collections of eaux-de-vie in the world. It has over 350,000 barrels stored in 65 cellars. This inventory is the legacy of our predecessors, which we have treasured for over 200 years.
BARRELS AND BOUQUETS
At Hennessy, a long-established tradition congratulates young cellar hands who set up barrels in a perfect row for the first time. Colleagues decorate their row with fresh flowers, left to dry leaf by leaf as the blend matures.
With the help of his Tasting Committee, the Master Blender selects the best eaux-de-vie.
Renaud Fillioux de Gironde shares a love of nature with his uncle, Yann Fillioux, Hennessy's 7th generation Master Blender. Exploring the forests near Cognac for hours, the elder shared his insights on his most powerful tool - the nose. On those walks, and during his 10 years on the Tasting Committee, Renaud soaked up the skills he uses daily as Hennessy’s 8th generation Master Blender.
11 AM EVERY DAY
For two centuries now, the Tasting Committee has met every day at 11am. They meticulously taste each eaux-de-vie, then select or reject it according to their strict quality standards. The ones selected will be tasted at least once a year to ensure their maturation process.
AN UNRIVALED LIBRARY
Today, there are thousands of different eaux-de-vie in Hennessy’s cellars; it is one of the largest libraries in the world. Each is unique, carefully selected by previous Master Blenders, then left to mature - yet tasted annually. Each eau-de-vie in our reserve is unique, which makes it a limitless collection for the Master Blender to draw upon.
THE ART OF DISCERNMENT
Unlike other spirits, maturation is not the only factor that determines the quality of a cognac. Only a meticulously selected blend of fine eaux-de-vie can lead to a distinct, superior cognac. This art of discerning is entrusted to our Master Blender and the Tasting Committee, who meet daily at 11am sharp to taste eaux-de-vie and evaluate their potential.
THE PERFECT BLEND? ALWAYS.
Consistently replicating perfection and taste.
CREATING CONSISTENT PERFECTION
The eaux-de-vie are of different ages and domains and will express themselves differently after maturation. A Hennessy Cognac is the result of the assembly of all these nuances, to reproduce the same result over time.
TO BLEND OR NOT TO BLEND
Every year, the Hennessy Tasting Committee reviews around 10,000 eaux-de-vie. Each eau-de-vie is meticulously tasted, then selected or rejected if it doesn’t meet the strict quality standards set by the committee. The ones selected will be tasted at least once a year to ensure their maturation process.
Contrary to other spirits, aging is not the only factor that matters in the quality of cognac. Only a meticulously selected blend of fine eaux-de-vie make for a distinct, superior cognac.
NOTES, NUANCES AND CENTURIES OF SAVOIR-FAIRE
Our eaux-de-vie are of different crus, ages and domains. Once aged, each has its own personality. Disparate notes and nuances must not just co-exist, but complement one another. First, like blends are then assembled among themselves in specific proportions. The Master Blender is the orchestra conductor. Year after year, these distinct steps make it possible to achieve the same aromatic and gustatory qualities for which each of our cognacs is known.
BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT
We have never left a detail unattended in crafting our cognac. Why start now?
PONT NEUF: DESIGNED WITH PURPOSE
Our building was designed as a bridge between history and the future. A model of eco-construction, it earned the highest environmental grade given. At Hennessy, sustainability matters.
BUILT TO EVOLVE WITH US
We have room to expand. Breathing room. High-speed bottling lines, storage, sophisticated traceability systems, and logistics are all on site, delivering 240,000 bottles per day to 160 countries.
Pont Neuf has been certified as Exceptionnal - the hightest of HQE standards. For initiatives like landscape integration excellence. Energy performance. And water recycling, to name but three.
FROM BARREL TO GLASS
Once the blends have been elaborated, bottles are prepared in our Charentais workshops and then are shipped to our distributors around the world. Each case begins its journey in Cognac, and we pay constant and serious attention to our ecological footprint, from packaging to modes of transport.
Please register to stay in touch with Hennessy and receive our latest news.