Updated: Nov 13, 2019
If you know me, then you know I love Hennessy! I recently attended Hennessy Le Voyage in Atlanta, and it was a cognac lover’s dream come true. This intimate cocktail master class is part of a nationwide series that offers a hands-on experience that educates guests about the craftsmanship and complexity that goes into creating every bottle of Hennessy cognac. A brand ambassador brings the Hennessy portfolio to life as guests are sent on a two-hour journey through the history of the beloved cognac complete with hand-crafted cocktails and pairings.
Upon arrival at the Atlanta Le Voyage residence, we were greeted with a photo opportunity and cocktails, and were led into a great room. Each guest had their own seat the table complete with recipe cards for cocktails, a jigger, shaker, Hawthorne strainer, julep strainer, bar spoon, and the necessary ingredients to mix the cocktail.
Through guided-tastings led by a brand ambassador, we discovered the characteristics of the brand’s unique flavors and differences between some of Hennessy’s most iconic blends while learning to craft cocktails with the cognac. The handcrafted cocktails for the evening included a French 75 and The Sazerac. After brief introductions to the brand, we learned a bit of the Hennessy history, and then were instructed to make our first drink using all of the bar tools – the French 75! The French 75, which is served in a champagne flute, contains Hennessy VSOP, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, champagne, and garnished with lemon zest. The other drink on the cocktail menu was the Sazerac. This drink contains Hennessy VSOP, simple syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters, absinthe, and garnished with a lemon twist. I felt like a certified bartender after making these handcrafted drinks.
For the finale, we were introduced to Hennessy XO. This blend is the original extra old cognac that is blended with over 100 eaux de vie and aged up to 30 years. We were guided to a private movie theater within the residence to watch “The Seven Worlds,” a short film directed by Ridley Scott, that visualizes the journey experienced in every sip of Hennessy XO. The film provided a sensorial and immersive narrative to each of the seven tasting notes of this cognac blend: Sweet Notes, Rising Heat, Spicy Edge, Flowing Flame, Chocolate Lull, Wood Crunches; culminating in Infinite Echo. We were then presented with a glass of Hennessy XO on the rocks, which was paired with a box of chocolates to bring out the blend’s seven flavor profiles. We were guided through the tasting as our taste buds had a party with each bite of chocolate and each sip of Hennessy XO that intensified the notes of apricot, peach, maple syrup, chocolate, caramel, and more found in the blend.
Many people drink Hennessy and other liquors without knowing the origins or history. Hennessy Le Voyage showcased a video that explained the history and craftsmanship behind every Hennessy blend presented at the event - Hennessy V.S, Hennessy V.S.O.P, Hennessy X.O. Hennessy has been producing fine cognac for over 250 years. That’s older than the United States! Founded by Richard Hennessy in 1765, Hennessy now accounts for 51% of worldwide consumption of cognac. Although, Hennessy originated in Cognac, France (of course), Richard Hennessy was actually Irish.
Hennessy is very rich in legacy. The Hennessy cognac house is home to over 300,000 casks which are manufactured and maintained entirely by hand. This technique behind this unique cooperage process has been passed down through eight generations over 250 years. There is no recipe for Hennessy, each barrel is created solely by taste from the Master Blender and Tasting Committee, who have been trained throughout multiple generations to perfect the taste. These in-house experts, who are required to complete a 10-year apprenticeship, conduct daily tastings to select and blend the best Eaux-de-vie or “water of life” for the cognac blend. Renaud Fillioux, the Master Blender, is an 8th generation master blender for Hennessy.
It's amazing to see how much history and work goes into creating a bottle of Hennessy. I enjoyed the digging into the history of Hennessy and learning the art of making classic cognac cocktails! Hennessy is one of my preferred cognacs, and visiting Cognac, France has always been on my bucket list, but it’s become more of a priority after attending Hennessy Le Voyage.
Hennessy Le Voyage is a national event series, and will be making its way to New York,
Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and Austin. If you’re a Hennessy drinker or even if you just appreciate quality cocktails and an evening of fun, then definitely check it out. You can find more details on the Hennessy Le Voyage site at: http://levoyage.hennessy.com/
Here's some photos from Hennessy Le Voyage: