We were delighted to be invited to take part in ‘Les Journees Particulares,’ held by the LVMH Group at Hennessy HQ on the banks of the Charente River.
June the 15th and 16th saw the cognac giant open its doors to reveal some of its innermost secrets to the public for the very first time. And although we’ve visited Hennessy Cognac several times in the past, this time was extra special as it gave us the chance to explore three of their ‘secret places,’ which have never been exposed to the eyes of anyone other than staff and family before. So it was with bubbling excitement that we prepared ourselves to visit The Grand Tasting Bureau, The Chai Founder and The Old Bottling Place.
10:00 hours saw us meeting Mr Jerome Ferry, the Internal Content Manager. The day began with him briefing us about all the arrangements for the vista and the key factors of the day. He told us, “The Grand Tasting Office is not opened to the public. Even those who work here have no right to go it, and it’s only the members of the tasting committee who work there can go in. And in The Old Bottling Place you’ll meet some Hennessy experts who’ve worked here for a long time. They are passionate about our craft and are looking forward to sharing this with you.”
The Tasting Room
First on the agenda was a visit to The Grand Tasting Bureau – the tasting room – where each morning the eight members of the tasting committee assemble to taste, create and make decisions about various different eaux-de-vies.
The Hennessy expert, Mr Jean Pierre Vidal, said, “Every morning at 11:00, eight tasting committee members arrive to commence their working day. The current master blender, Mr Filioux, is the seventh generation of a family who’ve held the position of chief master blender since the year 1802.
Vidal continued to tell us about the different aspects of tasting. These included ‘the purchase tasting,’ ‘ the tasting service for providers,’ the tasting control to ensure compliance of sample and delivery,’ ‘the stock tasting’ and the ‘dissatisfaction tasting.’ He said that, “Each member of the tasting committee samples around 7000-8000 different eaux-de-vies on an annual basis.”
The Chai Founder
Stop number two on our tour was the secret cellar, The Chai Founder. This is the place where some of Hennessy’s oldest and unique eaux-de-vies are stored. The oldest here dates to 1800, and the whole collection housed here is a walk through the ages of Hennessy. It’s a true reflection of the work of seven generations of the Fillioux Family.
The Old Bottling Place
Last but not least is our discovery of The Old Bottling Place. Located along the banks of the Charente River, here we were looked after by Mr Cholet, a gentlemen who’s worked for Hennessy for more than 30 years.