For the last 250 years, Hennessy Cognac has been the leading standard in cognacs worldwide. Created by Richard Hennessy in 1865, the company’s history—and its devout interest in preserving and extending the processes of that history—is one of the key factors of the brand’s longevity. With the brand being in the Hennessy family for well over eight generations, it’s a business that prides itself on its lineage, its time-tested processes and its ability to adapt to ever-changing times.
The brand’s foresight and willingness to partner and market to the African-American community goes as far back as World War I, when Black soldiers stationed overseas first experienced the liquor back at the turn of the century. As the company made its way to American shores in the Roaring Twenties, it was met with the influx of the jazz scene and the budding Black communities on the east coast. The Hennessy family always had a passion for music, so it’s a natural fit that the brand would become in sync with the musical evolutions of jazz, blues, and eventually hip-hop.
But there was much more than evident synergy in music and culture when it comes to Hennessy and the African-American demographic of the early 20th century. One of the company’s main partners, the Schieffelin family (a pharmaceutical powerhouse), was particularly committed to investing and assisting in the growth of the Black business—one such initiative being the sponsorship of the Tuskegee Institute.
In 1963, at the suggestion of Maurice Hennessy, the Schieffelin family hired Herbert Douglas (who’d later become the third African-American appointed vice president of an international company). Douglas was a driving force in Hennessy’s efforts to market specifically to Black Americans, championing selected initiatives and resulting in the appointment of three more Black VPs following his tenure.
And as progressive as Hennessy has been in the past, they aim to continue that legacy in the future. Aligning with members of the African-American cultural community that embody the brand’s motto of “Never stop, never settle,” it’s allowed the brand to scale new heights. Partnering with Nas in 2012, as one of the first major liquor brands to align with a hip-hop legend, speaks to the brand’s understanding of being for the people, a brand that the people can mold into their own personal preference.
Hennessy plans to continue its adventurous take on cognac in the next 250 years. But that won’t come before celebrating the past 250 years with style and flair, only as Richard Hennessy would. The Hennessy 250 Tour is a perfectly curated event created to highlight the artists consistently pushing the boundaries of culture forward. Complete with live exhibitions and shows spanning the globe, the tour will touch five continents in legendary locations.
Also following in the spirit of spirits, a special collection blend was created specifically for the brand’s anniversary. With only 250 barrels of the blend available worldwide, it truly makes for an once-in-a-lifetime collector’s item. The Hennessy brand has done a wonderful job remaining at the forefront of world culture, especially in the African-American space. The next 250 years “chasing your wild rabbit” should be a fun ride.
For more information and to purchase a special edition 250th Anniversary Collector Bottle, visit here.
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