What is Hennessy? Complete Guide (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Hennessy is one of the big names with a great reputation for producing cognac. It became iconic because of its smooth, classy, and good flavor. The brand produces half of the world’s Cognac, making it a cognac favorite. 

To honor its legacy, our team spent 24 hours researching a few facts about what Henessy is. 

Hennessy: What is It? 


Hennessy is a type of brandy specifically produced in Cognac, France. The brand sells 50 million bottles per year worldwide and is the largest producer of cognac all around the world. Hennessy cognac produces various expressions in different ages, and the line is known worldwide.

It is made from premium ingredients, pressed, distilled, and fermented into wine, then goes through a double distillation process and becomes an eau-de-vie. It contains 40% ABV and is considered a strong liquor.

History & Origin 

Hennessy is a cognac brandy made from the Cognac region in France. It was founded by Richard Hennessy, an Irish Jacobite military officer, in 1765, and the line is now passed on to the eighth generation. 

In 1794, the first shipment of Hennessy cognac hit New York. Since then, the global distribution of the line has grown more. It played an important role in history, and their legacy continues until today as they mastered the art of creating the finest booze. 

Hennessy Ingredients 

Grapes for Cognac

Henessy is a cognac, and to be labeled as one, the brand must follow the standard ingredients and process set out by the French Law. The premium white grapes used in making Henessy are harvested from four of the seven designated areas in cognac. 

In addition, to be considered a cognac brandy, the ingredients and production must happen in Cognac only [1].

How Is Hennessy Made?

In order to produce the finest cognac, the premium grapes are needed to be pressed, distilled, and fermented into wine. With the use of Charentais copper alembic stills, it will go through a double distillation process to be an eau-de-vie. 

The clear spirit will be aged in French limousin oak casks for a minimum of two years, then blended. As it ages inside the barrel, it will be rotated and placed in different cellars depending on its characteristics.  

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Types of Hennessy Cognac 

Types of Hennessy Cognac 

Hennessy V.S.O.P Prvilège

The Hennessy V.S.O.P. Prvilège is a special order for King George IV of England and was first created in 1817. The V.S.O.P. stands for Very Superior Old Pale. This brandy is a blend of 60 eau-de-vie matured up to 15 years in oak barrels. 

V.S.O.P. has notes of honeyed fruit, vanilla, velvety, and has intriguing spice. The classic cognac is not overpriced and is good for high-end cocktails or pouring in a cup to sip. But, what is Henny’s alcohol percentage?

Hennessy V.S

Hennessy V.S stands for Very Special, and it is a modern rendition of the 3-star cognac. The Hennessy V.S is a blend of 40 years old eau-de-vie and is known for being the brand’s flagship. 

Hennessy V.S has a subtle hint of fruit and notes like roasted almonds and brown sugar. It is rich and fresh and has a creamy vanilla taste and a floral-like finish that you can sip.

Hennessy X.O

Hennessy X.O

Hennessy X.O. is a luxurious cognac introduced in 1870 which became the foundation of all the expressions issued by the brand. The whiskey has a blend of over 100 eau-de-vie aged 30 years above that are carefully selected in barrels. 

Unlike other spirits, X.O. has a noticeable sweetness that can be compared with a candied fruit but with some hints of spicy pepper flavors. It also has a hint of chocolate, wood, spice, and vanilla. Hennessy X.O is a top-shelf bottle of spirit and is ideal for sipping or consuming over ice or with a mixed cocktail. 

Read: What Does Hennessy Taste Like?

Hennessy Black

Hennessy Black was first released in 2009, and this bottle is slightly strong compared to other expressions because it contains 86 proof. It is a mix of 40 gold and pale eau-de-vie, then matured in oak barrels for a certain period.

Black has notes of spice, citrus, Jasmin, and honey, and it has a taste of tantalizing citrus. The spirit is designed for juice and cocktails, but it can be an excellent choice for those who prefer lighter drinks like a bottle of beer, vodka, tequila, and champagne. 


Is Hennessy a strong drink?

Yes, Hennessy is one of the strong drinks that contains 40% ABV. If you plan to drink Hennessy cognac, a 1,000 ml bottle contains 400 ml pure booze making it one of the strong cognacs you should not consume in just one sitting. But, does Hennessy freeze?

Is Hennessy top-shelf alcohol?

Yes, Hennessy is top-shelf alcohol. The line produces different expressions and limited edition cognacs that are expensive and are top quality. In fact, famous rapper Kanye West was spotted drinking a glass of the famous booze. 

Final Thoughts 

Hennessy is about 257 years old, and it is no doubt that Richard Hennessy has built a strong legacy of producing good-tasting and top-quality cognac. From premium ingredients, distillation process, and maturity, the line ensures to produce top-of-the-line cognacs that people worldwide can enjoy. 

Do you have Hennessy Cognac in your shelf collection? What’s your favorite expression? Please share it with us below!  



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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