Global Brand Ambassador and 8th generation of the Hennessy family, Mr. Maurice Hennessy, hosted an intimate dinner and tasting at Asian fusion restaurant AnQi in Costa Mesa, California. Notable guests in attendance included internationally renowned actress Kieu Chinh, Chef Perry Cheung, business elites Wilson Wang, Terry Pan and Luke Duval.
During the course of the evening, Hennessy enthralled and engaged his guests, with story upon story of the Cognac’s unique and variegated history, complimented by a variety of tastings, including Hennessy X.O, Paradis Imperial and Richard Hennessy.
Throughout the evening, Mr. Hennessy spent time with all of his guests, discussing the legacy of Hennessy, the country of France, and how the brand has impacted Asian culture – particularly during special events, such as Asian holidays and wedding. Destination Luxury was fortunate enough to get some one on one time with Mr. Hennessy to discuss various facets of the Hennessy technique, his favorite timepiece, and some of his most beloved destinations.
Destination Luxury spoke with Mr. Hennessy about his brand, what luxury means to him, and the evening at hand.
Destination Luxury: Tell us a bit about the Hennessy brand.
Maurice Hennessy: You have the Hennessy VS which is the most sold single brand of Cognac in the world. It is a big favorite in the US. You also have the Hennessy Privilege which is the most sold VSOP in the world. In Asia it is often consumed as a long drink. Then you have the Hennessy XO. It is the original XO and was created by my great, great grandfather – Maurice Hennessy I.
He had it created for his own dining room – for his friends and not for sale but after a while everybody wanted some. I think it is one of the reasons Hennessy is so popular in Asia. In 1872, it found it’s way to Shanghai and Hennessy was so above the class of the normal Cognac because it was the first really aged Cognac on the market that it developed a reputation as a high quality Cognac.
After that we have Hennessy Paradis, which is a very subtleCognac that is very smooth. Then you have Hennessy Paradis Imperial which is a Cognac with a great history of being a present that a mother gave to her son Alexander the 1st for his birthday party.
We also have Richard Hennessy which is a generation of the Hennessy in a bottle. Cognac’s made by my family since the 1800s which are blended together to make a special rare, limited brand.
Destination Luxury: Tell us about the design of the bottle.
Maurice Hennessy: The first really designed bottle was the Hennessy XO; it was created in 1947 by a cousin of my father. He was also an artist and he designed the bottle with the shape of – I call it the sitting movement. This XO bottle shape is recognized all over the world – it has been copied of course, but the original Hennessy XO bottle is the base for our precious quality like the Hennessy Paradis series.
Destination Luxury: Can you tell us about the process and the flavor of developing Richard Hennessy?
Maurice Hennessy: Cognac is always the blend of various hundreds if not thousands Cognacs made in various estates from different vintages. The idea of the master blender, which has been in the Hennessy family for seven generations, is to produce always the same taste despite that every year the Cognac that the vineyard produces is different.
Destination Luxury: For people who are not familiar with Cognac, can you advise five good reasons they should try it?
Maurice Hennessy: It is the best spirit on the market. It is a drink of moderation – moderation is always a good idea. It is an expensive drink which you will hopefully enjoy slowly. It’s an interesting drink. It has a wonderful story, Hennessy is 250 years old next year. We still have members of the family in it. It’s full of tradition and history. It is not a big factory like some industrial spirits – it is artisan work. And also because I say so.
Destination Luxury: What is your favorite food to pair with Cognac?
Maurice Hennessey: Chinese food is the best. Chocolate is also very good. Yesterday I had some Kobe beef cooked like a steak with Hennessy and it was stunning. Spicy food and fish also go well. You can also make great cocktails and it is of course wonderful with cigars.
Destination Luxury: Can you share with us your top three favorite hotels in the world?
Maurice Hennessy: I would say, the Beverly Wilshire, of course. It’s where I always stay. They know me and they are grand but they are not pretentious. I also really like the Peninsula in Hong Kong. I love the Rolls Royce.
Another hotel I adore, which is wonderful, is the Ritz-Carlton in Beijing. It was remarkable. I spent a whole week there and didn’t leave the property for one minute. I had work to do and it had a great swimming pool and the food was delicious.