|Laurent Boillot, Chairman & CEO; Boris de Vroomen, International Director|
|Revenue||€954.2 million (2012)|
Jas Hennessy & Co., commonly known simply as Hennessy (French pronunciation: [ɛnɛsi]), is a French producer of cognac, which has its headquarters in Cognac, France.
It is one of the "big four" cognac houses, along with Martell, Courvoisier, and Rémy Martin, who together make around 85% of the world's cognac. Hennessy sells approximately 102 million bottles of its cognacs per year, making it the world's largest cognac producer, and in 2017 its sales represented around 60% of the US cognac market. As well as distilling cognac eaux-de-vie itself, the company also acts as a negociant.
The brand is owned by Moët Hennessy since a champagne & cognac merger in the early seventies, which is in turn owned by LVMH (66%) and Diageo (34%), Diageo acting as a non-controlling shareholder. Hennessy pioneered several industry-standard practices in the world of cognac, and its association with luxury has made it a regular point of reference in popular culture, especially in hip hop.
The Hennessy cognac distillery was founded by Irish Jacobite military officer Richard Hennessy in 1765, who had served in the army of Louis XV. He retired to the Cognac region, and began distilling and exporting brandies, first to the United Kingdom and his native Ireland, closely followed by the United States. In 1813 Richard Hennessy's son James Hennessy gave the company its trading name, Jas Hennessy & Co. He was also responsible for choosing Jean Fillioux as the house's Master Blender. A member of the Fillioux family has occupied the role ever since, a business relationship that has lasted eight generations and more than 250 years.
Hennessy became the world's leading exporter of brandy in the 1840s, a status it has never lost. By 1860, it represented one out of every four bottles of cognac sold internationally. Hennessy also instituted several of the conventions now used across the cognac industry. It was one of the first marques to sell bottles rather than casks of cognac, a process that helped it survive the Great French Wine Blight in the mid-nineteenth century. It was also the first cognac house to use star ratings, and the gradings V.S.O.P. and XO, which are today used by most other cognac producers.
The V.S.O.P. designation was first applied in 1817, when the Prince Regent (later King George IV) of Britain asked Hennessy to create a "very superior old pale" cognac, a description that had previously been applied to sherries. Maurice Hennessy, the grandson of Richard Hennessy, then introduced a star-based classification of cognac qualities in 1865 (a system simultaneously adopted by Hennessy's competitor Martell), which remained the industry standard of cognac age designation until the 1960s. Maurice Hennessy also created the XO ("extra old") designation in 1870, for cognacs which had undergone prolonged cask maturation.
A branch of the Hennessy family moved from France to England in the early 1900s. It established itself in the Army and in English politics, eventually earning the title of baron Windlesham. Although family ties are alive, the English branch is no more involved in the cognac business.
In 1944 Kilian Hennessy, a fifth-generation direct descendant of Richard Hennessy, began assisting his cousin Maurice Hennessy in running the business. Killian Hennessy had intended to be a banker, but instead went on to position Hennessy as an international brand, travelling to Ireland, the United States and Asia to promote the brand. He first visited China in 1946, and the nation has since become the world's second-largest cognac market. In 1947, Hennessy's business relationship with Martell also came to a close, after the death of Maurice Firino-Martell.
Hennessy has also become a key part of major luxury conglomerates. In 1971 Kilian Hennessy spearheaded the company's merger with Moët et Chandon, to create Moët Hennessy which eventually went public and thrived financially. Moët Hennessy then announced a merger with Louis Vuitton, which already owned champagne brands, in 1987, creating the world's largest luxury brand conglomerate, Louis Vuitton • Moët-Hennessy or LVMH.
In 1988, a management crisis led to the group's takeover by Bernard Arnault, owner of the haute couture house Christian Dior, with the support of the Guinness brewery group. The so-called "LVMH affair" was so controversial in France that French President François Mitterrand referenced it in a televised address.
Kilian Hennessy remained on the company's advisory board until his death in 2010 at the age of 103. An eighth generation representative of the Hennessy dynasty, Maurice-Richard Hennessy, acts as one of the brand's global ambassadors. He had originally trained as a farmer before entering the family business.
From 2018 onward, Hennessy experienced production shortages caused in part by increased demand, bottle shortages, and frosts.
Hennessy holds the largest collection of cognac eaux-de-vie in the world, with more than 470,000 casks in its cellars. Through a process of blending and maturation of varying lengths, it makes several distinct gradings of cognac. As well as its V.S and V.S.O.P. gradings, which make up the majority of its sales, Hennessy is known for expensive specialist cognacs, some of which are still blended by the Fillioux family.
Limited editions of Hennessy can contain more than one hundred different eaux-de-vie, some of which can be centuries old; they are traditionally accompanied with luxurious trimmings such as custom-made boxes and hand-blown carafes. A bottle of Richard Hennessy, for example, is priced at around USD$7,000, and comes in a Baccarat crystal decanter with matching glasses, a fusil, and a tray, all designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind.
Since 2009, Hennessy has released a number of collectible editions to mark anniversaries, special occasions, or collaborations with artists, designers and organisations, such as the NBA. It has collaborated with Zhang Enli, Les Twins, Refik Anadol, Kaws and Marc Newson among others.
Hennessy is also used as an ingredient in cocktails and mixed drinks, and is commonly served in nightclubs and bars. The company has launched a number of new products aimed at this on-premises market, including Pure White, Hennessy Black and Fine de Cognac, and promoted them accordingly. The rapper Nas has acted as a brand ambassador for the brand.
Hennessy has a substantial consumer base among African Americans, who drink the majority of the cognac consumed in the United States. Accordingly, the brand has also marketed itself with initiatives around black entrepreneurship and Black History Month.
- Hennessy V.S
- Privilége V.S.O.P
- Hennessy X.O
- Hennessy X.X.O
- Hennessy Master Blender's selection
- Hennessy Paradis
- Richard Hennessy
- James Hennessy
- Hennessy Paradis Imperial
- Hennessy 8
- Hennessy Timeless
- Hennessy Ellipse
- Hennessy Black
- Hennessy Pure White
- Hennessy Classivm
- Hennessy Fine de Cognac
|Collector bottle||Year released||Description||Notes|
|Hennessy VS "44"||2009||Honor of 44th president Barack Obama|
|Hennessy VS "NUL"||2010||National Urban League|
|Hennessy VS "BOA"||2010||Blending of Art (five different bottles with two designers per)|
|Hennessy VS "KAWS"||2011||New York graffiti artist KAWS design|
|Hennessy Fine De Cognac and Tea||2011||Tea House Maison de Thé Théodor|
|Hennessy VSOP Helios||2011||Gold Bottle (named after Greek god of sun)|
|Hennessy VSOP "NyX"||2011||Platinum bottle (label glows under black light)|
|Hennessy VSOP Kyrios||2012||Black bottle (3D label)|
|Hennessy VSOP Depuis||2013||Red bottle|
|Hennessy XO Odyssey||2007–11||Released every year since 2007 (2011 bottle sits on rock formation)|
|Hennessy Kenzo||1997–99||Fashion designer Kenzo (subsidiary of LVMH)||[n 1]|
|Hennessy Red Book||2011||Levandovka filling|
|Hennessy X Futura||2012||New York graffiti artist Futura|
|Hennessy Luminous||2013||Brand name on label has luminous glow|
|Hennessy VS x Scott Campbell||2016|
|Hennessy VS x Jon One||2017|
|Hennessy VSOP x John Maeda||2017|
|Hennessy X.O x Marc Newson||2017|
|Hennessy VS x Vhils||2018|
|Hennessy VS x Felipe Pantone||2019|
In popular culture
Hennessy has a long-standing relationship with African American culture, especially hip hop. It has been described as "synonymous with rap music and African Americans, who are the brand’s major consumers and advocates". While music, especially the 1992 2Pac song "Hennessy" has been credited with popularising the drink, some historians have pointed to a much older relationship, which began when African American servicemen encountered cognac in France during World War I and World War II.
Hennessy has actively pursued this consumer group for decades. It targeted minority audiences as early as the 1950s, when it placed advertisements in African American magazines like Ebony and Jet, used African American models, and hired African American employees. By some estimates more than two thirds of Hennessy sold in the United States is consumed by African Americans. It is sometimes referred to as "Henny".
Hennessy appears frequently in the lyrics of popular music, and by one estimate the words "Hennessy" or "cognac" are referenced in more than 1,000 songs.
Some notable examples include "KC Tea" (2010) by Tech N9ne, "Hennessey" (1992) by 2Pac, "Hennesey n Buddah" (2000) by Snoop Dogg, "Hennessy" (2021) by Kodoku, "Love Scars" (2017) by Trippie Redd, "We Be Burnin'" (2005) by Sean Paul, "Boombayah" by K-pop group Blackpink, "The Humpty Dance" (1990) by Digital Underground, "Pass Me Da Green" by Master P (1997), "Moodz" by Blackbear, "Red Bull & Hennessy" by Jenny Lewis, "6 Inch" by Beyoncé, "Blame It" by Jamie Foxx, "Henny & Gingerale" by Mayer Hawthorne, "Whistle" by D-Block Europe, "Better Now" and "Rockstar (ft. 21 Savage)" by Post Malone. The cognac is referenced in the chorus of the Drake single "One Dance" (2016), which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Rap duo Mobb Deep also wear Hennessy jerseys in their music video for their 1995 single "Shook Ones (Part II)".
In a 2019 interview with the South China Morning Post, Maurice-Richard Hennessy said that “the word ‘Hennessy’ goes well in a song", and disclosed that he had met several rap artists, who he thought were "nice people". He told the paper that "they often come from poor backgrounds and ask me about recommendations, how to drink it, how it’s made.”
Hennessy is the drink of choice for Blues musician Del Paxton in the movie That Thing You Do! In the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond, rescued by a St. Bernard in Switzerland, curtly dismisses the dog and tells him to bring five star Hennessy.
At the 2009 VMAs interruption, Kanye West was reportedly intoxicated after drinking Hennessy and other various alcoholic drinks before his infamous interruption of Taylor Swift.
Hennessy Literary Awards
Hennessy sponsors the New Irish Writing competition in the Irish Independent, and the associated annual Hennessy Literary Award, that has launched such Irish writers as Joseph O'Connor, Dermot Bolger, Colm Ó Clúbhán, Patrick McCabe, Colum McCann, Frank McGuinness, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Dermot Healy and Neil Jordan.
Hennessy was the favourite drink of Kim Jong-il, former Supreme Leader of North Korea. Hennessy once reported that Kim spent over $700,000 a year on Paradis cognac.
- ^ Produced for the Australian, Hong Kong, Indonesian, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and United States market. Around 18000 bottles were then produced, with the blue version launched in 1997 and the yellow one in 1999.
- ^ "Cognac makers look beyond China for growth". Reuters. 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "Cognac makers ramp up U.S. efforts as China sips less". Reuters. 2015-11-22. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ a b "Hennessy, high-end cognac - Wines & Spirits". LVMH. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ a b "Cognac's Streak Continues –". Market Watch. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ a b c d e f g Rothbaum, Noah (2021-10-14). The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-067040-5.
- ^ "DIAGEO Annual Report 2021" (PDF).
- ^ Time Inc (24 May 1937). LIFE. Time Inc. p. 64. ISSN 0024-3019.
- ^ a b "MHD | Moët Hennessy Diageo". MHD | Moët Hennessy Diageo (in Japanese). Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "Hennessy, l'empire du cognac". France-Soir. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
- ^ Morganstern, Adam. "Hennessy 8: A $40,000 Cognac Celebrates Two Families Working Together For Eight Generations". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "Hennessy, high-end cognac - Wines & Spirits". LVMH. Retrieved 2022-03-24.
- ^ a b "Cognac magnate responsible for transforming family business". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "Cognac sales jump 31% as drinkers go upmarket". Reuters. 2022-01-17. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ a b Faith, Nicholas (2004-04-15). Cognac. Octopus. ISBN 978-1-84533-614-1.
- ^ a b "Cognac magnate Kilian Hennessy dies at 103". Agence France Presse. 3 October 2010. Archived from the original on 10 March 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Group Claims LVMH Edge". The New York Times. 1988-09-16. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ a b Kirkpatrick, David D. "The Luxury Wars - Nymag". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "5 Questions With Maurice Hennessy On The Hennessy Paradis Imperial". MICHELIN Guide. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "LVMH opens new cognac bottling plant to cope with US demand". South China Morning Post. 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "Why apprentice tasters in Hennessy have to remain silent for at least five years". CNA Luxury. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ Morganstern, Adam. "Hennessy Unveils A $7,000 Bottle Designed By Legendary Architect Daniel Libeskind". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "HENNESSY VS editions". Website of donhenny-hennessycollector!. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "Introducing Hennessy Black", cocktailenthusiast.com, 2 June 2010; retrieved 16 March 2011.
- ^ Hein, Kenneth. "Cognac is in the house", allbusiness.com, 22 September 2003; accessed 8 November 2014.
- ^ Hennessy. "Hennessy And Multi-Platinum Recording Artist Nas Unveil Year Two Of The "Wild Rabbit"". www.prnewswire.com (Press release). Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "Why Cognac Makers Want More U.S. Business". Fortune. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ a b Mitenbuler, Reid (2013-12-04). "African-Americans Have Been Drinking Cognac for a Lot Longer Than You Think". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ a b c Holman, words: Bianca (2016-09-13). "Hennessy's Popularity Is Not Due To Hip Hop. The Story Is Much Deeper Than That". VinePair. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ Fields, words: Jessica (2022-02-21). "10 Things You Should Know About Hennessy Cognac". VinePair. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "Lyrics containing the term: hennessy". www.lyrics.com. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
- ^ Tech N9ne – KC Tea, retrieved 2018-01-27
- ^ 2Pac (Ft. Obie Trice) – Hennessey, retrieved 2018-01-27
- ^ Snoop Dogg (Ft. Kokane) – Hennesey N Buddah, retrieved 2018-01-27
- ^ Master P – Pass Me Da Green, retrieved 2019-12-10
- ^ Jenny Lewis – Red Bull & Hennessy, retrieved 2019-04-09
- ^ Ramirez, Elva. "Pass The Courvoisier: Cognac Notches Best Year Yet In 2018". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ Drake (Ft. Kyla & Wizkid) – One Dance, retrieved 2017-12-25
- ^ McIntyre, Hugh. "Drake's 'One Dance' Was Officially The Biggest Song On The Planet In 2016". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-12-25.
- ^ Mobb Deep - Shook Ones, Pt. II (Official HD Video), retrieved 2022-03-23
- ^ "Hennessy cognac heir on why rappers are good people". South China Morning Post. 2019-05-27. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
- ^ "A Hennessey for Del Paxton". Yarn. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
- ^ On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - IMDb, retrieved 2022-03-23
- ^ Grady, Constance (2019-08-26). "How the Taylor Swift-Kanye West VMAs scandal became a perfect American morality tale". Vox. Retrieved 2021-12-07.
- ^ Vanessa O'Loughlin, "New Irish Writing" Archived 2020-12-23 at the Wayback Machine, Writing.ie; accessed 8 November 2014.
- ^ "Your chance to join the ranks of our best writers", independent.ie, 24 March 2012.
- ^ "New home for New Irish Writing and the Hennessy Award" Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, Writing4all.ie; accessed 8 November 2014.
- ^ Paul Fischer (2015). A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power. Flatiron Books. p. 169.