Hennessy is the largest cognac house in the world. Founded by Irish immigrant Richard Hennessy in 1865, Hennessy commands approximately 40% of the world cognac market. Hennessy produces a full range of quality products from its VS to Paradise cognacs. Hennessy is now owed by French luxury goods conglomerate Moet-Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
According to the BNIC VS cognacs (aged at least two years in French oak barrels) account for nearly half of all cognac sales and Hennessy VS is the clear market leader in the category. Hennessy VS is not the sales leader because of lower prices but rather due to quality, marketing and name recognition. Indeed, Hennessy VS is priced at the high end of the VS range and often costs more than many cognac houses‘ VSOP offerings.
Hennessy Very Special
We tasted Hennessy VS neat in a cognac snifter. Here are our notes.
Hennessy VS is the highest priced of the big four cognac houses VS offerings priced about 20% higher than Courvoisier and Martell VS cognacs and about 5% more than Rémy Martin’s Petit Champagne VS cognac.
Alcohol: 40% (80 proof)
Age: Hennessy VS is a blend of about 40 different eaux-de-vie from the Bois ordinaire, Bon Bois, Borderies, Fins Bois, Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne appellations that are aged 2 and a half and five years in French Limousin oak barrels.
Hennessy VS is packaged in an attractive bell shaped bottle with the Hennessy coat-of-arms surrounded by a wreath of grapevines featured on the label with a medallion reading “Maison Fondee 1765” embossed at the base of the neck.
Amber, reddish gold.
The Nose (Nez)
Oak, nuts, no spice.
Mouth (En Bouche)
Grape juice, unaged eaux-de-vie, similar to Rémy Martin’s V, grilled almonds and soft vanilla.
Medium length, slight black pepper spice.
Hennessy VS is perhaps known as the definition of cognac. While it has the finer attributes of cognac, it lacks complexity or dominating distinguishing flavors and aromas. As such, VS is fine for casual sipping and makes for a versatile cocktail mixer. Most bars would always stock Hennessy VS even if they don’t stock cognacs.
Hennessy promotes the use of its VS and V.S.O.P cognacs to be used as cocktail mixers. Indeed, Hennessy’s web site contains dozens of recommended cognac cocktail recipes with Hennessy Very Special as the key ingredient. Hennessy recommends its VS as an ingredient in its “punch royal“. We tried Hennessy Very Special in a Between the Sheets cocktail (Cognac, triple sec, rum and lemon juice, a Side Car with rum) as recommended by Hennessy and found it suitable as a mixer.
Hennessy has also created a cognac specifically crafted for mixing, Hennessy Black.
2006 Silver Medal, 2007, 2012 and 2013 Gold Medals – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Hennessy markets their cognacs heavily, often highlighting inspirational stories. Here is Hennessy’s 2016 Piccards campaign.
Hennessy also often offers its VS in special edition packaging. Here is an example of a specially produced Hennessy VS bottle by tattoo artisit Scott Campbell.
Rue de la Richonne – BP20
16101 Cognac France
+33 5 45 35 72 68
For information on visiting Hennesssy click here.