Hennessy is the largest cognac house in the world. Founded by Irish immigrant Richard Hennessy, the House of Hennessy commands approximately 40% of the world cognac market. Hennessy produces a full range of quality products from its V.S. to Paradise cognacs. Hennessy is now owed by French luxury goods conglomerate Moet-Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Hennessy is the clear cognac market leader in the category not because of lower prices but rather due to quality, marketing and name recognition. Indeed, Hennessy XO is priced at the high end of the XO range of most cognac houses‘ XO offerings.
Hennessy XO was created by Maurice Hennessy in 1870 and was the first Cognac classified as X.O, or “extra old”. The House of Hennessy also holds the distinction of creating the first cognac to be designated “very special old pale”. Hennessy created the first V.S.O.P in 1818 at the request of The Prince of Wales and future King George IV of Great Britain.
The Hennessy XO Review
We tasted Hennessy XO neat in a cognac snifter. Here are our notes.
Hennessy XO is the highest priced of the big four cognac houses XO offerings priced about 25% higher than Courvoisier XO cognac and about 5-10% more than Martell’s and Rémy Martin’s XO Cognacs.
Alcohol: 40% (80 proof)
Hennessy XO. is a blend of about 100 different eaux-de-vie made from Ugni Blanc grapes from the Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fin Bois appellations that are aged up to thirty years in French Limousin oak barrels.
Hennessy XO is packaged in an attractive pear shaped decanter. At the neck is a band that reads “the original XO”
A plastic medallion that reads X.O. in gold lettering against a black background is embossed further down the bottle. Towards the base of the bottle is an elongated oval sticker that reads “Product of France” “Cognac” “Hennessy” “40%/alc/vol” “J A Hennessy & Co Cognac France”. The bottle itself is decorated in grape vines and grapes.
Deep dark amber.
The Nose (Nez)
Dried and candied fruits are the first impression followed by warm cinnamon spice and light black pepper.
Mouth (En Bouche)
Orange, black pepper, powdered cocoa and oaky leather.
Very long cinnamon, pepper, vanilla and oak finish.
Hennessy XO is certainly a long way from Hennessy V.S.! It is a bold, attention grabbing cognac, that doesn’t share the delicacies of other XOs like Rémy Martin’s XO Excellence. Despite its powerful statement on the palate, Hennessy XO has an unexpected finesse, like a late Beethoven symphony. The broad attack of flavorful fruit and spice rounded by chocolate tones fading into a equally spicy vanilla-tinged finish makes Hennessy XO a cognac worthy of contemplative savoring.
Hennessy does not promote the use of its XO Cognac to be used as a cocktail mixer. Rather, Hennessy recommends it be drunk straight or with a dash of water or ice. Some bartenders will, however, create elite versions of cognac cocktails using Hennessy XO, like the Bentley Sidecar, a side car with Hennessy X.O. and Grand Marnier or the Sidecar De Magnifique, a side car with Hennessy X.O Cognac, Cointreau & Grand Marnier Centenaire.
San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005-2009 – Gold Medal, 2011 Silver Medal and 2012 Gold Medal.
Hennessy XO: Each Drop an Odyssey – Don’t Wait To Experience Greatness
Hennessy has commissioned a film extolling the virtues of Hennessy XO entitled “Each Drop an Odyssey”. Film maker Nicholas Winding Refn’s film takes the viewer through a journey of seven Hennessy XO tasting notes that flow in sequence from Nose to Finish – Sweet Notes, Rising Heat, Spicy Edge, Flowing Flame, Chocolate Lull, Wood Crunches and Infinite Echo.
Rue de la Richonne – BP20
16101 Cognac France
+33 5 45 35 72 68
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