Representing centuries of Cognac making, Hennessy Cognac VS (Very Special) is a timeless icon: true to its origins, but always looking to the future. 40 different eaux-de-vie from across all Cognac regions are used in the blend, with a minimum age of two years and some aged up to five.
To create the eaux-de-vie for Hennessy’s signature, the finest Ugni Blanc grapes are selected, fermented and distilled twice in copper pot stills, known locally as alembic charentais. While some producers choose to distil their spirit with grape skins and other types of sediment, Hennessy removes this to create a lighter and more delicate Cognac. After distillation, only the best eaux-de-vie will be selected during tasting sessions held by a select committee of experts, with the final blend crafted by Hennessy’s eighth-generation master blender, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde.
Maison Hennessy uses casks of French Limousin oak to age their VS Cognac, imparting a robust, nutty note to complement the light and fruity grape characteristics. Before they even get to touch the spirit, the wood for the casks has been left outside for several years, exposing it to the changing seasons to reduce bitter flavors and develop a natural vanilla sweetness.
Every tiny detail of Hennessy’s Cognac production is deliberate; the location of their cellars (or chais in French) on the banks of the River Charente has been chosen to provide a humid environment, with a relative moisture level of at least 90% to accelerate the angel’s share of alcohol vapors and create a more mellow spirit.
While all the parts of the blend have to be at least two years old, the master blender also chooses older casks to impart depth and balance - the aim is certainly not to produce the cheapest cognac out there.
It might be a French icon, but Maison Hennessy was actually founded by an Irishman named Richard Hennessy in 1765. Today, it’s the world’s largest producer of Cognac, accounting for an impressive 40% of the market share.
Richard’s great-grandson Maurice created a star-based system in 1865 for signifying Cognac quality, which was shortly adopted by other producers as the industry standard. The beloved Hennessy 3-star Cognac later became Hennessy VS - or just ‘Henny’ - an icon as famous as the people who drink it.