21 Jan 6 Surprising Facts About Hennessy

Just like Bacardi and Jack Daniel’s, Hennessy is a distilled spirit brand name that has evolved from a term banded around by casual spirit fans into a darling of pop culture. While many generations of brandy drinkers have relished the cognac during its lengthy existence, however, a very small number are aware of the history behind this much-beloved drink. Here are seven facts about Hennessy that just may surprise you.

An Irish founder

Richard Hennessy, the man behind the drink, is an Irishman who made his way to France in the mid-1700’s.  The name comes from an ancient Irish clan. More specifically, it’s derived from the Gaelic Ó hAonghusa, which translates to ‘descendant of Angus’.

A Hennessy bottle features the name of the founder’s son

Another fact related to the founder, this time about his son. Jas Hennessy turned the company into a successful one when he started the brandy merchants’ firm “James Hennessy and Company” in 1813. So, the bottles don’t feature his name without good reason. Jaques means James in French and Jas is short for… you guessed it… James.

It was traded as a medicinal product

From 1920-1933, America was under something called Prohibition, which many people believed was a less than stellar time in American history. Hennessy’s success in this period of American culture was largely down to a man by the name of William Schiefflin, Schiefflin sold the product from his drugstores. Eventually, Schiefflin and Co turned into a well-known liquor distributor. It played a big part in the history of Hennessey’s success. In fact, it was successful, to the point that the company was purchased in 1981 by a gentleman by the name of Moët Hennessy.

It takes a decade to be a pro Hennessey taster

Yann Fillioux, the company’s 7th Generation Master Blender, asserts that you must complete 10 years of apprenticeship on the Tasting Committee (Comité de Dégustation). The committee is a group of experts who assess each eau-de-vie that goes into Hennessy Cognac before the apprentice can consider themself a professional taster. Getting into Harvard night be hard but not half as hard as this.

Hennessy is regarded as being light years ahead of the competition

The writer Glenn O’Brien became interested in collaborating with the brand upon visiting Cognac, France. O’Brien came to believe that Hennessy thinks 100 years ahead of the others and that if everyone thought as far into the future as Hennessy that we would be living in a very different world.

Hennessy made Jesse Owens’ mentee its VP

The company made waves in 1968 when it promoted Herbert Douglas, Jesse Owens’ mentee, its VP. That made Douglas among the very first African-Americans to become a Vice Presidents in corporate U.S.A. In ensuring that the qualities, heart, and spirit of his mentor and friend Owens, Herbert Douglas, along with The International Athletic Association (IAA), honoured another key sports luminary in 2017- tennis player Serena Williams. Douglas is referred to as “The Godfather of Hennessy’s African American Community”.