The History of Hennessy: Born In Ireland, Raised In France

Photo by Antoine-Bagot, courtesy of Hennessy.

Hennessy is one of the most respected and popular cognac makers in the world. If you’re a fan of cognac, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve tried one of Hennessy’s expressions over the years. But what do you know about the history of this iconic brand? Ever think its name sounds much more Irish than French? Well, there’s a reason for that.

Founded in 1765, the House of Hennessy originated in the vision of one man, Richard Hennessy. “For over two centuries, eight generations of the Hennessy family and seven generations of the Fillioux family have worked together to ensure the quality and consistency of our Cognacs,” says Yann Fillioux, 7th Generation Hennessy Master Blender.

Hennessy was born in Ireland (hence the surname) and moved to Cognac to open a distillery. Along with a handful of partners, he distilled and exported brandy to Ireland, England, and beyond. After eight generations, the distillery is still run by the family to this day.

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The company celebrated its 250th anniversary recently and its success can be traced to a handful of reasons. “The result of the values the Maison has upheld since its creation: unique savoir-faire, a constant quest for innovation and an unwavering commitment to Creation, Excellence and Legacy,” says Fillioux. “Here at Hennessy and since 1765, we take the creation of Cognac very seriously and continue to do so with an eye on the future.”

For those unaware, the Fillioux family’s history with the Hennessy’s dates back almost as long as the company itself existed. “The history of Hennessy is perfectly captured in the collaboration and shared passion of the two families – Hennessy and Fillioux – an unbroken partnership that extends seven generations dating back to 1800 when the Hennessy family asked Jean Fillioux, my ancestor, to join the Company as the brand’s first Master Blender,” says Fillioux.

Hennessy, cognac

All the grapes used to create Hennessy cognacs are born of the unique soil of the Cognac region surrounding the River Charente.

Jean Fillioux’s job was to ensure only eaux-de-vie of the highest quality were to be aged in the best French oak barrels. This moment sealed the relationship that would soon become the Hennessy/Fillioux legacy. “I am the seventh generation of my family to blend Hennessy Cognac and am currently preparing my nephew and Comité de Dégustation (Tasting Committee) member, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, to eventually carry the torch as the eighth generation Master Blender.”

When Fillioux joined Hennessy, he was a young man (only 19 years-old) and he was really impressed with the operation. In 2016, he celebrated his 50th birthday at Hennessy. “It is an honor to continue such a rich legacy of craftsmanship, one that is unparalleled in the world of Cognac and one of excellence that has been carried through so many generations,” says Fillioux.

Hennessy is constantly striving to craft the best cognacs in the world. They’ve been doing this since 1765 (eleven years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence). “With the largest and oldest library of eaux de vie, we have been able to achieve a legacy and tradition of excellence, with consistently rich flavor profiles through the decades,” says Fillioux. “It’s really the unique legacy anchored on a rich family heritage, craftsmanship and quality that drives our success today and serves as inspiration for the future.”

Hennessy, cognac

Eaux-de-vie are individual-vintage spirits distilled from grapes from only the finest growing regions in Cognac, which are then aged in French oak barrels, and meticulously blended to create Hennessy cognacs.

At Hennessy, they are guided both by a tradition-bound commitment to quality and an entrepreneurial spirit that continuously challenges them to find ways to delight and inspire their consumers.

“For the experienced drinker or those new to Cognac, older and established or younger and still building drinking preferences, we have something to offer in our portfolio,” says Fillioux.

Hennessy’s premium Hennessy V.S, Hennessy Black and V.S.O.P Privilège can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a spectrum of mixed drinks, such as the Sidecar. “Trying it in variety of ways will ensure that you are able to experience the many layers, tastes and aromas that our Cognac possesses.”

Images courtesy of Hennessy.