250 years of an amazing institution such as Hennessy deserves to be celebrated in fitting style, and the Cognac giant certainly knows how to throw a memorable party. First they released the Hennessy 250 Collector Blend, and now it seems that 2 large barrels of cognac are reliving a part of the cognac house’s long history.

Riding a wave

April 18th saw the 213-foot frigate, L’Hermione, set sail from Rochefort in France – destination, Yorktown, Virgina, USA. The vessel is a replica of the boat that the Marquis de Lafayette sailed across the ocean in order to add his might to the efforts of George Washington in his war against the Brits. Today the voyage is not so much about revolution (thankfully), but more about marketing. The clever cognac house has stowed two 250 liter barrels of precious cognac aboard the ship, not only as part of the 250 year anniversary events, but also as an illustration of of how sales to the largest volume country of import (the US) are a way to close the gap caused by the decline of Chinese sales. The Hermione is due to reach its destination in early June of this year.

To follow the journey of the ship across the Atlantic, here’s a map of Hermione’s location.

Director of Education at the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown, USA, said of the event, “It brings a huge national-international focus not only on the history of Yorktown, but on the impact of the French to American history”.

The trip covers 3,810 miles, and will follow the exact route of the voyage made in 1780 by Lafayette. A year later, in 1781, the ship played a part in the blockade during the Siege of Yorktown, being one of those used to prevent the British General, Lord Cornwallis, and his troops from escaping.

L’Hermione will dock at 12 ports of call, the first being Yorktown on 05 June. Governor Terry McAuliffe will host a welcome ceremony and visitors will be welcome to visit and climb aboard the ship from 05-07 June.

The replica wooden ship took an incredible 17 years to build, using traditional 18th century ship building techniques. In addition, the crew on board to carry out the epic journey had to undertake ‘old world sailing practices’ in order to be able to safely man the ship.

Barrels of cognac were carried on the original journey. The two that are carried today will be auctioned after the event, with all proceeds going to charity. You can follow the ship’s progress on Twitter – @hermionevoyage.

With Chinese austerity moves by the government having hit the Cognac industry hard, it’s a relief that the US is now the bright star on the horizon when it comes to sales. Hennessy exports to the country increased by 2 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

The party continues…

Another part of the anniversary story is the heart-warming tale of support by the cognac house to a brand new charity platform – lotsofcharity.com – and their chosen charity, Centrepoint. Hennessy have donated a whole barrel of the new 250 Collector Blend Cognac to the cause, which will be auctioned later in the year. The highest bidder seals the opportunity to be flown to Cognac and see ‘their’ barrel. They’ll then watch the contents being bottles into 250 decanters, and will be able to personalise both the bottles and presentation boxes. Not only that, but the lucky winner will be welcomed by none other than Yann Fillioux, Hennessy Cellar Master, and Bernard Peillon, president of Hennessy.


Managing Director of Moet Hennessy, UK, says that, “In its 250th Anniversary year, Hennessy is focusing on the importance of leaving a legacy for the future. Centrepoint, our charity partner in the UK, works to rebuild the lives of the next generation, and we are thrilled that they will benefit from this celebratory lot”. It’s expected that the auction for the barrel will exceed £100,000 (sterling).

Leave a personal message for the future

And it doesn’t stop there, as yet another anniversary promotion includes a collaboration between Hennessy and Heinemann Duty Free. Together they’ve installed a ‘Time Barrel’ at both Hamburg and Frankfurt airports (Germany). From April to June, travellers can create individual messages, pictures, and soundtracks, which will be sealed and stored for 50 years. On Hennessy’s 300th anniversary in 2065, the barrel will be opened and shared on a global scale.


Discover more about Hennessy Cognac.

Sources: thespiritsbusiness.com, moodiereport.com, dailypress.com, Bloomberg.com

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Hennessy sails across the Atlantic for Anniversary Celebration

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

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