We finally had the opportunity to taste the “Black Henny”. And no, the Cognac itself is not black (it’s just the bottle).
This was Hennessy’s first major new product on a large scale (launched in 2009). And as Hennessy perfectly understood the relevance of the American market, they called the bottle ‘Black’. It was back in 1961 when VS »”>Hennessy VS was introduced to the market.
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So, a little more about the product.
First of all: Hennessy Black is Cognac to mix. This Cognac is not a brandy you drink straight, but good for combining with mixers and to be used in cocktails. In other words, Hennessy Black is a premium spirit specifically created for mixing. Find out more about How to Drink Cognac.
The Black Cognac has a rather fruity & young character, and comes in a bold, black 750 ml glass bottle.
These are our personal tasting notes:
The eye: Pale gold
On the nose: Easy and fresh, some orange aromas
The taste: Some slight sweet honey, grapes with a touch of citrus, a hint of jasmine and floral hints
Finish: While the beginning of the palate is relatively smooth for such a young Cognac, it evolves into a more masculine taste
Blend: We’re informed that it’s created from a blend of 45 different eaux-de-vie
Age: We found a quote saying ‘aged in barrels used by Hennessy for at least five years’, which does not mean that the Hennessy Black Cognac is 5 years old. What it actually means is that the eaux-de-vie is aged in oak barrels that are at least 5 years old. A little misleading, huh?
So, we assume it’s a VS Cognac: That means it’s a blend of Cognacs that are at least two and a half years old, matured in oak casks. That’s not a lot – it’s the youngest a Cognac can be. It’s youth makes for a fruity, somewhat rough Cognac – exactly as one would expect from a VS quality.
This doesn’t make it a bad Cognac. On the contrary, it’s a good Cognac to mix with other ingredients. You don’t really want to mix a XO or older Cognac with Coca Cola or 7Up because it would be really a shame to dilute the flavors and taste experience of an expensive Cognac. In addition, using a higher quality Cognac would give less “Cognac taste”. This is because older Cognacs are much rounder and smooth. But in cocktails or a long drink, you want the hints of the spirit to shine through. This is what makes Hennessy Black so good to be enjoyed combined with a mixer.
The Price of Hennessy Black Cognac is 78 euros in our online shop
If you are interested in what mixes well with Hennessy Black, see here.
‘Done different’? The marketing, that is…
Hennessy, the biggest Cognac seller in the world, launched this Cognac in a very unique way:
1. It’s supposed to be mixed
2. It’s targeting urban, African American consumers in the USA
3. The product is supposed to be associated with club, nightlife, dance, and music.
4. It’s more expensive than other comparable Cognacs
Hennessy has a unique marketing strategy in place. It brings together music, events, and the “Cognac-cocktail-trend”. For example, there were several ‘Hennessy Black Launch’ parties, DJ Mixmasters, and dance parties. Hennessy Black also created a digital nightclub, “Hennessy Black Dance Floor”, on their website created specifically for the purpose; hennessyblack.com…
Here you get a virtual dance floor, and users can upload their crazy dance moves to the platform, add music, and effects, and share it with others.
Mark Cornell explains (CEO Moet Hennessy USA):
“Hennessy Black has been artfully blended to create a spirit that fits into the world of social and high-energy drinking occasions, while still remaining true to the quality and trust of the Hennessy brand heritage. It’s a perfect choice for the young, trendsetting consumer. It is truly ‘Done Different,’ elevating cognac to a fun yet sophisticated drinking experience.”
We quite like the, ‘Done Different?’ spin. But it doesn’t refer to the actual production of the Cognac – because that’s rather basic and standard. As far as we can tell, it’s more the marketing and positioning of the product.
There are several ways to drink the ‘Black Hen’:
- HENNESSY BLACK Ice: lemon juice and simple sugar
- HENNESSY BLACK Bull: coffee liqueur and Coke
- HENNESSY BLACK Spice: ginger, syrup, lemon juice
- HENNESSY BLACK Royale: Champagne, lemon juice and syrup
Or simply drink it your way…
At the beginning (2009) there were about 10 states where the launch was tested. Today Hennessy Black is available everywhere in the US – although to be honest, you might have trouble finding it in your local liquor store.
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Sources: Hennessy USA, marketing-professionnel.fr, www.adweek.com