Tasting the Jewel of the Hennessy Collection

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the Hennessy Maison in Cognac while on a trip with my family. Interestingly, my father used to live and play Rugby in the city, and we were visiting a former teammate and close friend of his. Over a rather boozy lunch, I discovered that Philippe had been at Hennessy for over 40 years and that my father used to work at Martell, another famous Cognac house in town. Later that afternoon, Philippe offered to take us down to the riverfront for a tour and insight into the world of Hennessy.

Hennessy Maison

Maison Hennessy from river Charente.

Unsurprisingly, it came as quite a shock to Cognac native and Head of Distilleries at Hennessy, Olivier Paultes, when he learned of my recent visit, and company acquaintance, while at Zeta Bar in Sydney earlier this month. Once we’d worked out that he and my father had mutual friends at the Rugby club, he was completely lost for words!

Olivier Paultes

Olivier Paultes

A previous Master Blender, Olivier is one of the lucky handful to join the prestigious ‘Comite de Degustation’, that meet every day at 11 am to taste, and rate, the water of life that creates Hennessy’s finest products, like the Paradis Imperial which we were on hand to sample.

Hennessy Maison Barrels

Barrels from the 19th and 20th Century.

Referred to as the jewel of the Hennessy collection, the Paradis Imperial embodies the apogee of the Hennessy art of selection. From any given harvest, the average number of eau-de-vie with the potential to one day join this blend are a rare few: only 10 out of
10,000.

Hennessy Maison Rare Eau de vie

Rare Eau de Vie at Hennessy.

It’s easier to gauge just how many barrels of the fine white spirit Hennessy has, while at the Maison. It’s quite literally endless and makes you appreciate how incredible Olivier and the rest of the committee’s role is in selecting the finest examples from the 19th and 20th century to go into a $2800 bottle of Cognac.

Hennessy Maison Tasting

The final tasting at the Hennessy tour.

Since my visit to Cognac, where I tasted the Hennessy range, and was kindly treated to a sample of the Richard Hennessy from Philippe, I’ve increased my consumption of the spirit. There’s a certain elegance about Cognac I wasn’t at one with in the past.

Hennessy Paradis Imperial

To say the Paradis Imperial is simply ‘elegant’ would be doing it a mighty disservice. It’s astoundingly graceful and utterly delicious, tantalising the palate with jasmine, orange blossom and flowery notes trickled with smoky accents. What is undeniable about the Paradis Imperial is that it’s clear, from the very first sip, that you are tasting a phenomenal drink, one that has taken two families 250 years to master.

For more information on the Paradis Imperial head to the Hennessy website.

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James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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