The House of Hennessy has reason to celebrate, and they are going all out! Last year, the company marked its 250th anniversary, and this year, Master Blender Yann Fillioux will pass the torch to his nephew, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, the 8th successive generation to orchestrate Hennessy creations. To honour this momentous occasion, the legendary company is releasing Hennessy-8, a one-time, extremely limited-edition cognac that sells for €35,000 a bottle. The 250 carafes—numbered and signed by designer Arik Levy—will be crafted of hand-blown Baccarat crystal, and assembled in Hennessy’s Atelier des Éditions Rares. Eight inset rings constitute an ode to the eight Master Blenders, and the eight eaux-de-vies in this unique blend, which represents 250 years of exquisite savoir-faire. The bottle is protected by an equally spectacular box, containing 25 layers of oak made from Hennessy barrel staves (one layer for each decade of Hennessy history). It should be noted that the connection between Hennessy and the Fillioux family dates back to 1802, when James Hennessy named Jean Fillioux as cellar master. Hennessy is currently part of the French luxury group LVMH (Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton). In April of this year, Mixte sat down with Yann Fillioux and Renaud Fillioux de Gironde in Los Angeles.
Your family has been blending cognac for more than 250 years. What does cognac mean to you: Is it a drink to comfort the soul? A nectar of the gods to be sipped slowly? The ultimate expression of human savoir-faire? Really, I think it’s “all of the above.” It depends where you are in the process. The production-creation side of the equation is full of emotion, and then you also have the joy of knowing that there are, in this part of the world, some remarkably talented people who have mastered the ability to extract the very best of the land via the grapevines that grow in it.
€35,000 for a bottle of cognac is a little crazy. How does one justify such a purchase? We produce about 70 million bottles of cognac a year, but there are only 250 bottles of Hennessy-8. Every eau-de-vie in the blend is as exceptional and rare as they get. Hennessy-8 is nothing less than a work of art, which essentially makes it priceless.
Should people drink the cognac (and keep the bottle, of course!), or should it be passed down as a legacy to one’s heirs? Given how much time has gone into preparing and selecting the eaux-de-vie, all the time that current and previous generations have put into creating the blend, the time it has taken to achieve this outstanding quality, I believe now is the time to open it and enjoy it in the right company.
How do you see the next years unfolding? What do you think your biggest challenge will be? We are here to pave the way for tomorrow. We are only one little link in a long chain of people who care about preserving the quality and continuity of the brand. Our job is to prepare for the future. It is our responsibility to receive the Hennessy heritage and pass it on, while developing the brand and ensuring its long life.
Why did you choose Arik Levy, a friend of Hennessy, to design the bottle? Our company is fundamentally contemporary and future oriented. It was important to continue working with someone we had come to know, and with whom we enjoy a mutual understanding.
Can you describe the House of Hennessy in three words? Excellence, transmission and passion.
With the collaboration of Manon Lemire