Hennessy is the world’s best-selling cognac, making up more than 40% of the cognac sold every year. Hennessy comes in different prices and variants, including X.O., VSOP, Hennessy White, Hennessy Black, and many more. With so many options to choose from, several questions arise concerning how to properly drink it. Don’t worry though, as this guide will walk you through it.
Blended or Straight?
This is the first question that will be asked, and the answer is that it depends on your personal preference. You may like your Hennessy X.O., VSOP, Black, White, or any of the other variants. Perhaps you prefer an old blend or one that is slightly sweetened.
You also have to take into account how you’ll be drinking. Will you have it with dessert, or will it be a part of an aperitif or cocktail? The more you know about the circumstances and how you’ll drink, the easier it is to decide.
Choose a Cognac Glass
There are 3 types of cognac glasses, the wobble snifter, the balloon glass, and the tulip glass. For mixed drinks, you may opt for a tumbler or a cocktail glass.
For the purist, there is no other choice than the tulip glass. The shape offers the liquid the maximum surface area. It also thrusts the aroma up towards the nose, enhancing the senses.
The balloon glass, also known as the brandy snifter or brandy glass, is more widely used compared to the tulip. Its design also enhances flavor, but not as well as the tulip. So if you want the maximum experience, get a tulip glass.
When, Where and How to Drink Cognac
Needless to say, this is a matter of personal preference, but if you’re looking for a general guide, here are some suggestions.
The Trendy Way
If you want to drink Hennessy the fashionable way in a club or bar, get a VSOP, on the rocks or in a cocktail. Of course, you can always drink it neat.
The Old Fashioned Way
For a lot of purists and traditionalists, cognac is taken for relaxation after work. Just grab your X.O. or whatever Hennessy type you prefer, pour it into a balloon glass or tulip, sit on your favorite chair and chill.
Hennessy has come a long way and is now enjoyed by people from all walks of life in different ways. However, there are still those who partake of cognac the old-fashioned way. Even if you fancy yourself as a 21st century individual, there’s nothing wrong with savoring it in the traditional manner.
Cannot decide which Hennessy is best? Get together with some friends and try the different variants. You can do a blind test to determine which you like best. For fun and variety, add some ice, dessert, or drink it neat. The possibilities are endless.
Traditionalists like their Hennessy at hand temperature. The reason is that when you hold a balloon or tulip glass, your body’s temperature slowly increases the temperature of the glass. This allows the cognac spirit to yield more notes and enhance the taste.
But the times are changing. Some like their Hennessy at room temperature, while others like to chill it in the freezer before drinking it. And as we mentioned earlier, you can drink cognac on the rocks.
Just like the neat vs. blended debate, the question of what the right temperature is for cognac will be discussed for a long time. There’s no need for you to pick a particular side, though. Try them all out and see which one suits your palate.
How to Taste a Hennessy
Start by choosing a Hennessy variant and a glass. Pour the cognac into the glass. This guide is for drinking cognac straight, but it also applies if you’d rather have it on the mix, cocktail or on the rocks.
For a tasting session, pour around 25 ml into the glass. There is no need to be exact though. Now you just let the cognac settle and warm up in your hand. Yes, there will be those who will tell you this is not necessary. But the fact is that this tradition has been upheld for centuries.
Hold the cognac glass for up to ten minutes or when it reaches 21 C (70 F). You’ll know the cognac has reached the ideal temperature when the aroma is stronger.
Smell the cognac, savor the scent. This will vary depending on the Hennessy variant and if it’s a cocktail. Now give the glass a swirl, smell it again, and notice if more aromas appear. Take a sip and enjoy your cognac.