LOST IN PARADIS
21 Mar 2017 By David Fuhrmann-Lim
We were privvy to the complex craft and flavours behind three exquisite blends: Hennessy Paradis, Paradis Imperial, and the Richard Hennessy. Afternoons don't come better than this.
Written by Zen
Hennessy Cognac was already in Singapore in the second part of the 19th century. Seems like the coolies and the colonnial bosses were already appreciating fine cognac back in the day. That’s one of the interesting random things we learned from Jean-Michel Cochet, Ambassador de la Maison (below), on an afternoon where he led us through the tasting of three exquisite blends: Hennessy Paradis, Paradis Imperial, and the Richard Hennessy. Below are more random tidbits we picked up. (Random because… see the bit where we drank cognac all through lunch.)
If the name Hennessy sounds vaguely Irish to you, you’re a clever ‘un. The company was created by Irishman Richard Hennessy back in 1765. The subtle and smoky Richard Hennessy was blended in his honour.
Cognac is double distilled white wine. First you get eau de vie, then it’s matured in casks (maybe up to 100 years) to give it aroma, flavours and colours.
Hennessy is the story of two families. The eighth generation descendant of Richard Hennessy still owns and runs the maison, while a single family of Cellar Masters has worked at the house since 1800. Yann Filloux is the seventh generation of this family, and is the man who selects the eaux-de-vie that composes Paradis. This uninterrupted lineage in unique in the spirits world.
So is their store house of 380,000 barrels of eaux-de-vie, of which there are 3,500 different varietals, and the team taste maybe 10,000 of them a year to find the right blends for marriage.
Once it’s blended it’s a Hennessy.
Here is how Cochet describes the Paradis (remember, he’s French): “It’s beautiful, with a sensual touch, like a sweet wine, but it’s not aggressive.” I found it to be voluptuous, spicy and heady, with tints of cardamon and swirls of dried roses. Heady indeed.
The Paradis Imperial combines several hundred eaux-de-vie aged from 30 to 130 years. Again, he says, “it’s more vivacious, lighter, smoky, it’s linen not silk, majestic, only 1 out of 1,000 eaux-de-vie of a given vintage will quality, there’s a balance of strength and finesse. It’s younger and not as well known.” But it’s certainly a cognac you can drink quite substantially, as it’s agreeably spicy, subtly smoky and has a sumptuous finish.
The Richard Hennessy is “shy”, according to Cochet. “It sits at the bottom of the glass. It’s is intense, and you can swirl for a long time to get different aromas. But it’s satisfying, with an intense maturity.” This is unique in that it takes a long time to appreciate its aromas, and the flavours build like episodes in your mouth, reveal characters and plots as you pay attention.
The range of Ultra Prestige Cognacs from Hennessy is available directly from Moët Hennessy Diageo Singapore Pte Ltd, 83 Clemenceau Avenue #09-01 UE Square Singapore 239920. Office: +65 6838 9800