This famous cognac, which is the pride of the country, appeared thanks not to the Frenchman at all. Created a legendary brand Irishman by birth, Richard Hennessy. But in his homeland much more famous for whiskey and beer. And Hennessy was in France thanks to the service in the army of King Louis XV. Tortured in 1765, the Irishman went to rest on the south-west of France, on the island of Re. The hospital, where Hennessey arrived, was located near the town of Cognac. Local brandy, according to legend, could revive even the dead. The 36-year-old captain, like all his congeners, knew a lot about drinking. After trying a local drink, Hennessy decided to start selling alcohol. Immediately, the retired captain registered his own firm, settling in the same Cognac.
Through the century at the cognac house “Hennessy”, which by that time had become famous not only in Europe, but also in America appeared its own emblem. She was transferred from the family coat of arms of an Irishman – the arm in lats held a halberd. It is interesting that in those days in France and did not know about such a drink as cognac. So, thanks to Richard Hennessy, the name of the provincial town became a symbol of a noble and refined liquor.
Thanks to his Irish roots, Richard Hennessy quickly mastered a very important British market, which traditionally did not obey the French winemakers. This made it possible to make London a real center of the world expansion of the brand. Special success came to the company with access to the American market in 1794. The point is that the North American States won independence from the British largely thanks to the French. That is why the goods from this country enjoyed almost political support.
By the beginning of the 1790s, Hennessy owned 40% of all exports of French cognac. The company invested a whopping 150,000 pounds at that time in the production and distribution of its product. As a result, much more eminent and well-known competitors were left behind.
In 1800, the company and the earthly world was left by its founder, Richard Hennessy. The son of an Irishman, Jacques was able to significantly improve the family business, and gave him the same name that is known all over the world today: Jas Hennessy & Co. But it was easy for Jacques – at the beginning of the XIX century, Europe was engulfed by Napoleonic wars, which did not contribute to the development of trade. It helped the foresight of the founder, who before the beginning of Napoleon’s campaigns and the continental blockade of England, transferred trade affairs to the Belgian ports of Bruges and Ostend. This territory remained immune to hostilities.
Napoleon lost power, and Hennessy in England immediately had two unusual dealers. The first was the French grind of the Marquis de Talleyrand, who distinguished this cognac. The second was the epidemic of cholera, which broke out in 1832. English doctors recommended a drink to their patients as a preventive and disinfectant. So French cognac, in particular “Hennessy”, became popular, as a pleasant medicine. Also the position of the brand was strengthened in England thanks to the special order of the future king, and then the Prince Regent, George IV. He asked Hennessy specially for him to make a drink on an old brandy spirit of light color and exceptional quality. In English it sounds like “very superior old pale cognac” or V.S.O.P. The result pleased the monarch, together with him all the British high society paid tribute to the brand “Hennessy”. Yes, and the abbreviation took root, today used by many other manufacturers.
By 1840, thanks to the London-based trade agency, up to 90% of all brand products were exported. The clients of the company were many royal houses, including Russian emperors. Elite brandy began to be delivered to St. Petersburg since 1818, and already in 10 years there was opened a trade representation.The descendants of Richard Hennessey did not limit themselves to North America and Europe, they began to purposefully conquer the whole world. The brand’s products appeared in Asia and in Australia, which was quite unusual for a conservative, essentially brandy market. The company’s management was able not only to adapt its product taking into account the national characteristics of different countries, but also to find sources of creative inspiration in foreign cultures. For example, rounded branded bottles of “Hennessy” for many are a reflection of Japanese artistic traditions.
In 1864 in France, thanks to the head of the company, Maurice Hennessy, there was the first factory in the country to produce cognac. It was then that the first and the famous brandy brand was registered. Mr. Hennessy in 1865, in order to protect his product from counterfeits, introduced another novelty – the drink was sold not in barrels, as traditionally before, but in bottles. In the 1860s, thanks to the brand, a star system also appeared, which still exists. They denoted the age of the cognac spirits used in the blend. In 1870 Maurice Hennessey introduced to the world a new brand of cognac, which appeared thanks to the mixing of old spirits from family storages. So there was Hennessy XO. The second half of the name came from eXtra Old, which means “very old.” The novel has made a sensation, having begun the whole class of alcoholic drinks. The current Hennessy XO includes more than a hundred cognac spirits, each of which has at least ten years of aging. Some samples are generally produced more than a hundred years ago.
In the 1880s, French winemaking was on the verge of collapse – the entire harvest of berries was destroyed by insect pests, phylloxera. Only in 1888 in Cognac from distant Texas brought special seedlings of grapes, which could resist the phylloxera, it could help overcome the crisis.
The Hennessy brand was the first among cognac producers to use new marketing techniques, which today are called “image advertising”. The owners of the company did everything possible to ensure that any crowned family in Europe, all important social events were accompanied by a bottle of Hennessy. As a result, the brand has become associated with success, luxury, and its consumers are considered “cream of society”.
This strategy was continued in the first decades of the 20th century. Markets “Hennessy” drew attention to the fact that the places of kings and princes began to be occupied by the rich, who by any means sought to get to the higher world. This phenomenon was used in full – the advertisement was full of images of actors, writers, ballerinas and just celebrities with a glass of “Hennessy” in their hands. The presence of this brand in the menu of the most fashionable establishments, hotels and cruise ships became mandatory. There were proposals to even put bottles of elite cognac in museums, which many were taken seriously. But even more unexpectedly, advertising worked in the US. There, in times of the dry law, suddenly remembered the medicinal properties of this cognac. After all, England was conquered in the same way. Now “Hennessy” by a similar scheme began to be realized in pharmacies in America. Naturally, it was recommended to drink only for medical purposes.
Mass production was established in the second half of the last century. This has affected the producers of elite and prestigious products. In 1968 the company shipped a million box of its cognac, and already in 1971 the head of the company, Kilian Hennessy, after many doubts still sold his share of the family business to the house of Moet & Chandon. The new owners have already become famous for their champagne. Claude Moet began to sell a fizzy drink around the same time that Richard Hennessy started cognac. And 17 years after that deal, Moet @ Chandon decided to join the largest holding company Louis Vuitton, which specializes in creating luxury goods.
The head of the company Bernard Arnault quickly established business by making LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy) one of the largest in Europe. With the integration of many different companies into a single scheme, Arno managed to enable brands to retain some of their independence in decision making. This also applies to Hennessy – mergers and acquisitions did not break the traditional management structure and corporate style of products. But nepotism is very unusual for modern business. Today the company is managed by the eighth representative of the glorious dynasty – Maurice-Richard Hennessy. The main wine maker and custodian of the cellars is the seventh descendant of Jan Filho, who in 1800 took up this post.
You can safely say that the house “Hennessy” successfully combines incompatible things. Not only are premium products targeted at a picky user coming to the market, so the brand is also a leader in the mass cognac market. So, in 2001 Hennessy sold a record number of bottles – 35 million. In its niche, the brand controls a third of all sales, outperforming the nearest competitor by volume in half.