For brandy enthusiasts, Hennessy is a unique company to try out. Created in the 1800s, this brand is known for its strong yet flavorful cognacs that range drastically in their prices. In fact, Hennessy offers many expensive bottles which have been aged for many years and have unique flavors making them a cognac connaisseurs dream. If you’re on the search for some of the top Hennessy bottles, this article will explore the best options. Although they might be a little pricey, the price tag clearly reflects their quality.
What is Hennessy?
Hennessy is a luxury cognac distiller that was formed in the 1800s and has its headquarters in Cognac, France. It’s considered to be one of the largest cognac makers in the world and sells about 50 million bottles a year. Hennessy offers various types of cognac flavors which range from traditional to spicy combinations.
How Cognac is Made
Cognac is a type of brandy, but one that has specific distillation requirements. For instance, it must be made from grapes grown in the Rhôde wine region which is controlled by the AOC, a French wine-quality controller.
After the grapes have been harvested, they are then taken to a distillation processing center. Once they have been crushed and placed in wooden barrels, the natural residual yeast will start to break the mixture down. No sugar or chemicals are added despite the sometimes sweet taste of the drink.
Once the grapes have fermented for a few weeks, they are then poured into a copper pot where they are heated up. The vapors, also known as brouillis, created by this process are collected in the cowl of the kiln and later put through a different distillation process to help separate the alcoholic content. This process is repeated a few times before being put into casks, which are usually made of oak as this wood helps to create more flavor. The mixture then rests in them for about a year before it is tasted to see if it’s ready to be bottled. Eventually, the cognac is mixed with another alcoholic beverage, like wine or champagne, to help create a consistent quality in the bottle.
Drinking Cognac: Different Glass Types
Pouring cognac into a glass isn’t as simple as it might look. In fact, the shape of the glass, as with wine, is important to consider as it affects the quality and taste of your drink. Because of this, it’s a good idea to consider the different glass types to ensure the bottle you buy pleases your palate.
Snifters are an important tool to use when tasting forms of brandy. These short glasses have a wide bottom which eventually curves inward. Snifters help to keep the smell of the cognac trapped inside resulting in an even more pleasant experience when you drink it. Because you need to hold the bottom of the glass with your hand, it creates heat which also warms the liquid causing the cognac to burst with more flavor.
These unique glasses are made with a very creative design that helps to mix the cognac’s contents together and store its flavor. Similar to the shape and purpose of a snifter, the main difference is that balloon glasses often don’t feature a stem. Many balloon glasses also are made to move around in such a way that when you place them down they move gently from side to side. This helps to keep the cognac mixed together for when you pick it up to taste it again.
Tulip glasses are considered to be the traditional glass to use when drinking cognac. As its name implies, the bowl features a slightly curved design which resembles the tulip flower. This design helps to create more surface area in the glass which eventually creates more flavor and aroma. Tulip glasses also feature a long stem which can make it a bit easier to hold unlike balloon glasses.
Despite there being a few different options, one thing is similar between them all: the bottom of the glass is enlarged and eventually closes together. This helps to keep the cognac flavorful and eventually form a delicious flavor when you drink it.
What Can I Do with Cognac?
While some might like to drink their cognac neat, it can actually be mixed with a variety of other spirits and ingredients despite its acidic composition. Due to this, it’s considered to be a very versatile alcoholic beverage.
You can dilute the cognac with filtered water or pour it over ice. It can also be mixed with soda or even lemonade to make a unique cocktail. However, it’s important to be careful when mixing expensive cognac with other spirits or ingredients as they could diminish the flavor of it. Because most expensive cognacs feature slight twists to their taste, ideally they should be drunk neat. Despite this, they can still be mixed with other things but the taste might not be as strong. So, if you want to invest in a cognac that you can use with cocktails, make sure to look carefully as some will not work well for this purpose.
No matter what you plan to do with your cognac, always make sure to keep it at room temperature for a bit before enjoying it. This way, the flavors will have time to mingle together.
How to Store a Cognac Bottle
After you’re done using your cognac bottle, it might be a little confusing as to how you can store it away without causing damages to the liquid inside. However, there are a few tips you can keep in mind.
Keep the Bottle Upright
Unlike wine bottles which can be stored sideways, it’s often recommended that cognac bottles are stored upright. This helps to prevent the cognac from coming into contact with the cork or lid at the top which could warp its flavor.
Make Sure It’s Stored in a Dark, Dry Place
Cognac should be kept in a room that is dark and dry which will prevent sunlight and extreme room temperatures from hurting the taste of it. Because of this, most cognac sellers recommend that you keep cognac bottles in the cellar which will eventually help to prevent the cognac from going dry.
Separate the Cognac Into Different Glasses
If you’re concerned about your cognac’s quality quickly deteriorating after you open it, you can pour part of it into a smaller container. This will help to prevent the deterioration process from occurring quickly which means you can keep the cognac around for a bit longer than usual before the quality clearly declines.
Use it Up Within Six Months
After you open the cognac bottle, you should work to use it up within six months as the taste and quality will slowly start to deteriorate. Six months is considered to be the perfect time range as the cognac will still have a strong flavor and aroma. While cognac will not go bad, the quality will diminish over time and could make it difficult to drink as it might be very bland.
Why is Hennessy So Sought-After?
Hennessy is one of the most popular cognac brands for many reasons, but particularly due to its unique taste. The cognacs, unlike many similar options, are aged for numerous years in special French barrels. They undergo a specific process to ensure quality which is why many like to invest in them despite their steep prices.
Hennessy cognac also uses wine in their recipes. This adds a distinctive taste to it and also causes some of the bottles to be pricey due to the aged wine mixed in it. Besides wine, Hennessy also occasionally adds extra ingredients to it, like ginger, to give the cognac a special taste. This not only adds a bit of a zing, but helps the flavors to blend together perfectly giving the liquid a distinctive taste found nowhere else in the world.
The brand also has a rich history as it has been around since the 1800s making it a very renowned brand to buy from. Because of its reputation, it’s a popular choice for many, including celebrities and world leaders.
What to Consider Before Buying Cognac
Before you buy a bottle of Hennessy, there are a few things to consider to ensure you invest in the right option. Below are some important aspects to keep in mind.
One of the most important things to look at when buying cognac is the age of the bottle. This can be found by looking at the region listed on the label that tells of where the grapes were grown. These grades will inform you of how long the bottle has been tested and stored. For cognac, you should ideally look for regions such as VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), which has been aged for about four years. For those looking for something older, look for a label with XO (Extra Old) on it.
Many of the Hennessy bottles will also tell of the age range on the bottle if it does not have the grades listed on it. Keep in mind that pricey Hennessy bottles mean that the cognac hidden away inside it is very old. In fact, some of the oldest Hennessy bottles range anywhere from 50-80 years.
The Region Designation
Because cognac requires grapes to be grown in France, and in a specific way, you’ll discover that each region has its own unique taste. While they are not drastic changes, they still slightly change the taste in a noticeable way. There are six regions you’ll find: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Bois Ordinaires. While it might be difficult to find the right region to buy from, you can usually find a chart that helps tell you more about the history and geography of the region. For instance, in Grande Champagne, the terrain tends to be very hilly and have a chalky soil. On the other hand, in Bons Bois, it has mixed soil which tends to feature limestone and clay.
The Bottle Design
While not the most important aspect to look for when buying cognac, sometimes the bottle design can be a good thing to look at. This can help you to find not only an aesthetically pleasing one, but one that might allow the flavor to settle evenly. Most of these designer bottles are also made of glass. Because of this, you can reuse the bottle once you’ve finished the cognac.
The Scent and Notes
Another thing to consider is the slight notes found in each bottle. For instance, some cognacs might have a summerlike flair with sweet honey or jasmine notes while others have darker and seductive notes like cinnamon and dried rose petals. By paying attention to aspects such as these, you can be sure that you’ll find the right bottle for your taste or the event you plan to use the bottle for.
You should also consider the size of a cognac bottle. You’ll find everything from small flasks to very large bottles. While larger bottles tend to be pricey, sometimes small options can be just as expensive due to the cognac formula inside, especially if it’s a very rare mixture. Because of this, it’s important to consider the size of the bottle you want to invest in. For instance, if you’re planning a party, a larger bottle might be ideal. On the other hand, if you want something for a quick pick-me-up at the end of the day, a smaller bottle might be good. Most bottles will vary in their volume but they normally range anywhere from 300 mL to 750 mL.
The Priciest Hennessy Bottles on the Market
Many bottles of the Hennessy Ellipse can run a few thousand dollars. Stored in a Baccarat crystal decanter, a design unique to Hennessy, the taste of this bottle is very earthy and has notes of wild roses and citrus fruit. The cognac is usually aged for many decades in order to give it a solid and sophisticated flavor. The bottle contains about 700 mL of liquid and is a limited edition offered by Hennessy. Because of this, it can be very difficult to find.
Hennessy Beauté du Siécle Cognac
This bottle of cognac by Hennessy is one of its most expensive options as it is one of the oldest selections of the brand’s eaux-de-vies mixtures. Believed to be aged at least 80 years, the cognac is known for its simple natural flavor thanks to the grapes grown in the Grande Champagne region. The bottle is filled with 1,000 mL of liquid and stored in an aluminum and bronze container which helps to bring out the cognac’s flavor even more.
The Hennessy X.O comes in a stylish curved bottle which features etched glass with leaves and grapes carved into it. The rich amber color of the cognac inside is made with over 100 eaux-de-vie blends and is popular for its seven tasting notes which consist of sweet, heat, spice, flame, chocolate, wood, and echo. This option also gives you the choice to have a special note written on the bottom of the bottle.
Named after the vintage cognac cellars in France, Hennessy Paradis is an elegant option known for its delicate yet silky texture that is sure to please your taste buds. While it doesn’t feature many eaux-de-vie mixtures, Paradis has a stunning combination of flavors which feature notes of dried rose petals, honey, and truffles.
For those looking for the most expensive bottle offered by Hennessy, you’ll want to take a look at this choice. Named after the founder of the company, Hennessy Richard contains over 100 different eaux-de-vie blends, some of which are believed to date back to the 1800s. While it comes in a somewhat small container, the glass is designed with many curves to help ensure the flavor and aroma are of the highest quality. This option features very playful flavor combinations which include candied fruit, pepper, fennel, and hints of nutmeg.
Hennessy 8 Cognac
Another very expensive Hennessy bottle is the Hennessy 8 Cognac. Created by the company as a limited edition, the cognac is aged around 50-100 years and is stored in an extraordinary decanter glass which features eight rings to pay tribute to the different master blenders who have worked for the company. While it comes with a staggering price tag, it has an elegant, simple taste making it ideal for cognac traditionalists.
Hennessy Black comes in a very alluring black tinted bottle and is filled with a smooth yet subtle cognac mixture. Aged for about eight years, this cognac features soft floral scents and notes of honey, citrus fruit, jasmine, and grapes. Because of its faint taste, this Hennessy bottle is ideal to use for cocktails, especially mojitos and gimlets.
Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège
This cognac by Hennessy is believed to be the world’s first option of V.S.O.P cognacs. Stored in a simple yet elegant bottle, this cognac is made with 60 types of eaux-de-vies which help to give it a smooth yet flavorful finish. When drinking this cognac, you’ll find that it invokes autumn-like notes of cinnamon, French oak, vanilla, and clove. As with Hennessy Black, because of its smooth and light flavor, it’s perfect to use in cocktails.
Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection Nº3
Another limited edition option by Hennessy, this cognac is stored in a square bottle and covered in a rustic label that helps to tell the story behind this master blend. The cognac features a strong aroma thanks to it being stored in young oak barrels which gives it interesting notes of pralines, hazelnuts, and French oak.
Lisa has a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Arts. She is an experienced blogger who enjoys researching interesting facts, ideas, products, and other compelling concepts. In addition to writing, she likes photography and Photoshop.