Hennessy gathered three of their strongest Latino Influencers for a seven-day trip to Cognac and learn about the Hennessy brand in a way where words won’t do it justice. The European voyage of a lifetime.
Team Hennessy Latino Influencers, Mando Fresko, Julissa Bermudez, and Los Rakas traveled to France to really get a break down of how Hennessy is made, how it gets from the vineyards to your spirit markets. Most important, how the brand has remained successful for 250 years!
What would the ultimate experience be without first staying at the House of Hennessy. Built in 1810, Chateau Bagnolet was acquired by Auguste Hennessy in 1841, where he settled with his family and became known for hosting lavish gatherings. The House now serves as the interntional cultural headquarters for Hennessy, hosting Dignitaries, Artists, and Musicians, for a variety of special events.
Since 1765, the Hennessy family has been harvesting the beautiful vineyards of Cognac, France. The terroir and micro-climate of this unique region make it the perfect setting for the production of ‘eau de vie.’ After aging and blending this liquid becomes the beautiful spirit that we know as Hennessy cognac.
Each fall, since the Roman Empire ruled the region, the grapes of Cognac are harvested. What was once done by hand is now achieved through carefully honed modern tools. The grapes are quickly pressed for fermantation, and for a few weeks, usually in October, the hillsides fill with the scent of fresh crushed grapes.
They handle their grapes with so much care, and their barrels fall nothing short from that TLC. Masters of an ancient craft, Hennessy coopers make water-tight barrels without a single drop of glue or a single nail, using only wood, heat, water, and metal bands. Only French oaks from the nearby Limousin or Tronçais forests are used — known for their low resin content, they are perfect for aging cognacs.
The aging and blending process is what was most fascinating. Part of the reason Hennessy is still standing after 250 years is because, until this day they have kept some of their same traditions from when they started the company. Having the largest collection of eaux-de-vie in the world, with some dating back nearly 200 years, Hennessy’s cellars are integral to their legacy and history. All Hennessy cognacs are carefully aged in hand-crafted French lack barrels hewn from the nearby Limousin forests.
An easy way to remember what ‘eaux-de-vie’ is, is by associating it with “the water of life” for Hennessy. Eaux-de-vie are individual-vintage spirits distilled from grapes from only the finest growing regions in Cognac, which are then aged in French oak barrels, and meticulously blended to create Hennessy cognacs.
One amazing factor that separates Hennessy from the other spirits is their years of attention to detail. Throughout an aging process that in some cases lasts centuries, the progress of each eaux-de-vie must be tracked with utmost care. For this reason, casks are sampled regularly, according to a plan laid by the Master Blender. To do so, a glass vial called a “prouvette” is lowered into an opening in the cask.
This is where the Hennessy Tasting Committee comes in to play. For over a century, every morning at 11, The Hennessy Tasting Committee meets at the Hennessy headquarters in Cognac to taste eaux-de-vie, catalog maturation, and mastermind the blends that create Hennessy cognacs. A group and a ritual unique to Maison Hennessy, their generations of expertise create the world’s finest cognacs. The committee consists of seven members and these guys have been doing this for decades. In fact, once you are initiated in the committee you are not to speak for the first 10 years! And just to show you how ahead of their time they were and are, no member can travel outside the country with more than one member with them. They value their Tasting Committee so much they cannot afford to lose more than two if not any for that matter.
By now you’ve realized the Hennessy in your bottle has gone through test, after test, after test before reaching perfection. After the seven tasters approve the cognac, it is sent to the distillery – another time-tested method. Cognac is made from wine that is double distilled using iconic Charentais copper stills. All Hennessy partner distilleries adhere to a strict process for fermentation and distillation to create fine eaux-de-vies that will be aged and then blended into cognac.
On top of all of this, Hennessy still puts creativity in a high pedestal, making sure each product has artistry inside and out. Gerald de Geoffre de Chabrignac, nephew of Founder Richard Hennessy designs the now ubiquitous X.O flacon. Its shape, meant to evoke an inverted cluster of grapes, was one of the first-ever innovations in bottle design by a cognac house.
After the modern fermenting, aging, and bottling techniques, Hennessy keeps up with global demand while maintaining the consistent excellence of their cognacs.
Today, each Latino influencer that was a part of this voyage can tell the story of Hennessy and Cognac through their own unique voice. The Hennessy’s legacy of excellence is impeccable! The attention and care that goes into producing each Hennessy bottle, the expertise displayed by those working at the Bagnolet, distillery, tasting committee and cooperage is all so refreshing and inspiring.
Hennessy’s passion for the art and the beauty of the Maison and the grounds, keeps all those around them going. It keeps us motivated. It reminds us that no one detail is ever over looked and quality will always be stronger than quantity. More than anything, it reminds us all, you cannot rush greatness.