HENNESSY XO Old Bottle is an Extra Old Cognac that has not changed since its creation over a century ago. Maurice Hennessy produced Hennessy X.O (X.O means extremely old) in 1870 for his circle of friends. From here on, a style of cognac that is bold, rich and complex was born.
Hennessy XO was already being delivered to Irish cognac connoisseurs the year it was produced. However, it became noticed in 1872 by key Chinese customers in Shanghai, who ordered sixty bottles from the House. The essence of Hennessy XO was particularly appreciated in China, where orders have continuously increased over the years.
It is an excellent cigar Cognac, darker and more sophisticated than the VSOP, with enticing leather and tobacco flavours and a hint of spice.
Creation of the original Hennessy XO
It was the first cognac to carry the extra-old label. It was produced by blending approximately 100 Eaux-de-vie (alcohol that is unaged and distilled from other fruit other than grapes) that had taken on the most wood tannins to create a truly pleasurable cognac: robust and rich with exceptional persistence.
The grapes are important to producing this premium cognac’s long and sophisticated process. Hennessy used the late-maturing variety Ugni blanc, which offers the ideal balance of high acidity and low alcohol content for developing well-balanced Eaux-de-vie (water of life).
To ensure the aromas will be both excellent and varied, only Eaux-de-vie from the four great crus of the region (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois) are selected for the privilege of becoming great Hennessy cognacs.
A litre of eau-de-vie requires around 12 kg of grapes. After pressing the grapes, 9 litres of wine are produced, which is then distilled twice to generate 3 litres of brouillis and one litre of pure eau-de-vie.
This Eaux-de-vie is then stored in special, closely monitored cellars in French oak barrels.
The Hennessey tasting committee meets every day to select or reject Eaux-de-vie, and the barrels that are chosen are subsequently tested annually throughout maturation.
Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, Hennessy’s eighth-generation master blender from the same family, supervises this process. He learned the secrets of the craft from his uncle, Yann Fillioux. The process of producing premium cognac does not end with ageing.
7 tasting chapters of Hennessy XO Old Bottle
The Tasting Committee evaluated every part of the blend and identified many emotions that were integrated into an Odyssey encompassing seven chapters:
Sweet Notes: Candied fruit flavours warmly welcome the palate.
Rising Heat: The enticing sense of a strong, rising heat gradually unveils the complex taste of Eaux-de-vie meticulously matured in oak barrels.
Spicy Edge: A strong spicy cognac note that tantalises the lips and palate with its distinct peppery flavour blended with a hint of chocolate.
Flowing Flame: A warm wave develops, crests, and then breaks. There is a strong presence, full and luscious.
Chocolate Lull: There’s a subtle discovery of something quite familiar. It has the full flavour of rich, dark chocolate.
Wood Crunches: The vigorous ebb and flow of oak notes intertwined with vanilla are instantly sensed.
Infinite Echo: The evanescent oak notes leave a lingering, prominent finish. It seems to echo all of the subtleties of each taste and sensation before it.
According to a review, its colour is deep reddish amber, indicating a long time spent in oak and the caramel colouring that many cognac houses add to their products.
On the nose, are rich dark fruits with a hint of cracked pepper.
It takes a while for this one to start rolling on the palate, but after a time, butterscotch, caramel, candied orange peel, and dark stone fruits gather strength, along with cinnamon spice and oak. What begins subtly becomes bold and full-bodied.
As for the finish, a moderate oaky spice emerges on the back of the palate, ending in a dry finish with a slight alcoholic kick. Fruit and oak both linger on the long afterglow.
Hennessy XO has won several awards, such as:
- San Francisco World Spirits Competition Awards 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 – Double Gold
- San Francisco World Spirits Competition Awards 2006 and 2007 – Gold
- San Francisco World Spirits Competition Awards 2010 – Silver
How to drink XO cognac?
When you progress to the older Hennessy XO, which has matured for at least ten years, you should drink it neat or on the rocks. When drinking it neat, use a tulip-shaped glass, which helps you fully appreciate the colour and allow the aroma to reach your nose. On the other hand, a tumbler glass is ideal for drinking cognac with ice.
Another delicious way is by adding cold water to your cognac. Water creates an explosion of the molecules, or aromas, making it simpler to find the aromas. Even the tasting committees are constantly adding a splash of water.
It can be enjoyed in cocktails such as Champs-Elysees, Bamboo, Extraordinary Vieux Carre, Smooth Operator, and Chocolate Julep.
Hennessy XO is best paired with dark chocolate, Parmesan cheese, and aged Gouda cheese.
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