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What is Hennessy Made From? (2024 Updated)

What is Hennessy Made From

Last Updated on March 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Hennessy is one of the strongest spirits globally, providing a smooth mouthfeel with a trace of spice in the base bottle. This exquisite taste and kick come from Hennessy’s main ingredient, which could be surprising. So, what is Hennessy made from?

Our team of experts will be your Hennessy specialists, providing you with the most up-to-date information about this intense spirit.

What Is Hennessy?

Hennessy is a renowned brand of Cognac, a type of brandy that originates from the Cognac region in France. Established by Richard Hennessy in the 18th century, the brand has evolved into one of the most prestigious and widely recognized producers of Cognac globally. The main ingredient in Hennessy is high-quality grapes, which undergo a meticulous process of fermentation, distillation, and aging to create the distinctive character that defines this exceptional spirit.

Hennessy is celebrated for its commitment to craftsmanship, utilizing traditional methods and expertise passed down through generations. The aging process involves maturation in oak barrels, contributing to the brand’s signature complexity, rich flavors, and smooth finish. The range of Hennessy Cognac includes various expressions, with the XO (Extra Old) designation denoting a premium and extended aging period.

Beyond its exceptional quality, Hennessy has become a symbol of luxury and sophistication. Its iconic status extends beyond the world of spirits, making it a cultural touchstone in art, music, and lifestyle. Whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in carefully crafted cocktails, Hennessy continues to be a symbol of refined taste and timeless elegance, making it a staple in the world of premium spirits.

Hennessy: What It’s Made From?


Hennessy is created from Ugni Blanc grapes, which are made into wine. It then becomes an Eau-de-vie, which is prepared from Uni Blanc wine grapes that have been fermented and distilled once by the farmers. 

Hennessy picks distinct Eau de Vie for their taste characteristics and then distills them again for consistency. It rests in charred oak barrels for 4–100 years [1]. 

Its Main Ingredient

White Grapes

The main ingredient behind Hennessy is the Ugni Blanc grapes. Ugni blanc is a grape variety used to create brandy in North America, Bulgaria, and Italy. These grapes were harvested only once a year with care and precision to produce high-quality and delicious wines.

Ugni Blanc is perfectly suited to the demands of brandy producers in Cognac and Armagnac, who require high acidity, low sugar, and disease resistance. In addition, reduced sugar levels in the base wines mean lesser alcoholic strength when distilled.

How It’s Made

Hennessy Oak Barrel

Hennessy begins its production like any other winery would: high-quality vineyards. Ugni grapes are plucked at their peak of ripeness and squeezed. Then, its juice is fermented into wine every year.

Afterwhich, the wine goes through a two-step distillation procedure to become Eaux-de-vie. The first distillation produces a raw spirit known as Brouillet, while the second produces a high alcohol level. 

After that, each Eaux-de-vie is matured in oak barrels, where the colors and tastes are exchanged. This stage takes years and multiple barrel rotations to attain the appropriate taste complexity. But, what does Hennessy really taste like?

What Is Hennessey History?

Established in 1765 by Richard Hennessy, an Irish officer in the service of King Louis XV, the brand began its journey in the Cognac region of France. Richard’s vision was to create exceptional Cognac, and over the centuries, Hennessy has become synonymous with luxury and quality.

In the early 19th century, Hennessy’s great-grandson, Jean-Baptiste, took the helm and played a pivotal role in establishing the brand’s reputation internationally. Hennessy began exporting to the United States and, by the mid-1800s, had a strong presence in the global market.

The Maison Hennessy continued to innovate, introducing new expressions and refining its distillation techniques. In 1865, Maurice Hennessy, an influential figure in the brand’s history, created the iconic Hennessy X.O (Extra Old), a blend of eaux-de-vie aged for extended periods. This marked a significant milestone, setting a standard for high-quality aged Cognac.

Hennessy’s commitment to excellence transcended generations, and today, under the stewardship of the eighth generation of the family, the brand continues to be a symbol of craftsmanship and heritage. With a vast range of Cognacs, from VS to Paradis Imperial, Hennessy remains at the pinnacle of the spirits world, celebrated for its rich history and unwavering dedication to producing exceptional Cognac.

How It Became Cognac


To be recognized as Cognac, Hennessy adheres to the rules set out by a protected appellation of origin. This specifies that the grapes should be planted and that all cognac manufacturing must occur in southern France’s Cognac area. 

It starts with Ugni White grapes farmed organically and methodically picked at their best for Hennessy. After pressing the grapes, the juice is fermented into wine. After maturing in wood barrels (most often French Limousin oak) and mixing, the clear liquid becomes Cognac.

As the Cognac matures in barrels, the barrels are rotated and placed in certain cellars based on the intended qualities. A wet cellar, for example, will generate mellower tastes, while a drier cellar will yield more flavor.

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Where does Hennessy get its grapes?

Henessy gets its grapes at Cognac, France. Hennessy grows up to 750,000 hectares of Ugni grapevines. 

What grapes does Hennessy use?

Hennessy uses Ugni Blanc grapes. It is a late-maturing variety of grapes that achieves the optimal blend of high acidity and low alcohol concentration for well-balanced Eaux-de-vie.

Why is Hennessy so expensive?

Hennessy is so expensive due to its production method. The ingredients used, the careful distillation, and maturing process also make it expensive. Grapes, not wheat, are the primary component in spirits, and distilling wine from juice is pricey.

What is the main ingredient in Hennessy?

The main ingredient in Hennessy is grapes. Specifically, Hennessy is a Cognac, a type of brandy that must be produced in the Cognac region of France. The grapes used are primarily Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard.

Is Hennessy a brandy or whiskey?

Hennessy is a brandy. More precisely, it is a Cognac, which is a type of brandy produced in the Cognac region of France. Unlike whiskey, which is distilled from grains, Cognac is distilled from grapes.

What plant is Hennessy made from?

Hennessy is made from grapes. The specific grape varieties used in Cognac production, including Hennessy, are Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard.

What are the ingredients in Hennessy brandy?

The primary ingredients in Hennessy brandy are grapes, yeast, and water. After the grapes are harvested, they undergo fermentation, distillation, and aging in oak barrels to create the final product.

Why is Hennessy so expensive?

Hennessy is considered a premium brand, and its pricing reflects factors such as the quality of the grapes used, the meticulous distillation process, and the extended aging period in oak barrels.

The brand’s heritage, craftsmanship, and demand for its products contribute to its higher price point.

What kind of alcohol is Hennessy?

Hennessy is a type of brandy known as Cognac.

Brandy, in general, is a spirit distilled from fermented fruit juice, and Cognac specifically must come from the Cognac region of France and be distilled from specific grape varieties.

What is the strongest Hennessy?

The strength of Hennessy is typically measured by its alcohol by volume (ABV), which is usually around 40%. The term “strongest” may refer to higher-proof or older expressions, such as Hennessy XO (Extra Old), known for its complexity and richness.

Why is Hennessy so special?

Hennessy is considered special due to its long history, meticulous craftsmanship, and the unique aging process in French oak barrels.

The brand’s commitment to quality and the distinct flavor profile of its Cognacs contribute to its reputation as a premium and special spirit.

Is Hennessy brandy expensive?

Yes, Hennessy brandy is often considered expensive.

The brand is renowned for its high-quality Cognacs, and the pricing reflects factors such as the aging process, grape selection, and the craftsmanship involved in production.

Why is it called Hennessy?

Hennessy is named after its founder, Richard Hennessy. The brand was established in 1765 in Cognac, France, and has since become one of the most prestigious names in the world of Cognac.

What does the XO mean in Hennessy?

In Hennessy, as well as other Cognac brands, the term XO stands for Extra Old. It indicates that the Cognac has been aged for an extended period, resulting in a more complex and rich flavor profile.

What do you mix Hennessy with?

Hennessy is often enjoyed neat or on the rocks to savor its complex flavors. However, it can also be used in cocktails. Popular mixes include Hennessy and Coke (Henny and Coke), Hennessy Sour, or simply pairing it with water or ginger ale to highlight its nuances.

Is Hennessy a brandy drink?

Yes, Hennessy is a brandy drink. Specifically, it is a type of Cognac, which is a distinguished and regulated category of brandy produced in the Cognac region of France. Cognac, including Hennessy, is known for its smoothness, complexity, and aging process that imparts unique characteristics to the spirit.

So, What Is Hennessy Made From?

Hennessy is an alcoholic drink made from Ugni Blanc grapes harvested in France’s region. This drink has been distilled and matured for years in oak barrels, imparting flavors.

A spirit must fulfill extremely precise legal conditions called “Cognac.” These conditions include being made in Cognac, France’s wine-growing region, using certain grapes, distilling twice, and aged for years in French oak barrels [2].


  1. Hennessy Cognac Review
  2. What is Cognac?
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