Every artist, composer and master craftsman has a secret project on the side, an endeavour pursued simply for creativity’s sake. For Hennessy Master Blender Yann Fillioux, it was “Master Blender’s Selection N°1”, which in contrast to the many celebrated Cognacs he has composed throughout his distinguished career, this latest blend is a very personal signature that was only ever meant to be produced in a single, limited batch.
In French, a project like Master Blender’s Selection N°1 is called a “coup de coeur” — literally, a heart-stopper, love at first sight or, as in this case, a passion project. It began in Maison Hennessy’s reserves, one of the largest, most extraordinary reserves of eaux-de-vie in the world.
As the guardian of Hennessy’s reserves for half a century, Yann Fillioux knows every eau-de-vie stored there. Master Blender’s Selection N°1 came to life during a blending session, a moment of unbridled creativity. Innovative, robust and completely devoid of artifice, it is a truly bespoke creation.
Master Blender’s Selection Nº1: A Unique Signature
Creating Cognac requires patience and a constant dialogue between time, the elements, raw materials and skilled hands and minds. Little by little, each exchange gives rise to something precious that can only be realized through passion and a savoir-faire honed over 250 years of Cognac making.
With Master Blender’s Selection N°1, Yann Fillioux captures the essence of his art. This one-of-a-kind blend captures a particular moment in time and embodies his constant quest for excellence, extraordinary sensory memories and a perfect knowledge of Hennessy’s reserves.
Yann Fillioux and the Tasting Committee structured the Master Blender’s Selection N°1 by defining a first selection of eaux-de-vie. They then narrowed their selection down to 80 to 100 eaux-de-vie and grouped them according to their elegance, character and suppleness. The eaux-de-vie were then aged in both young and old French oak casks. When the time was right, the Cognac was bottled at 43°C – “cask strength” – in order to release its powerful aromatic tones as well as delicate, lingering spicy notes. Crafted as a single batch, it is a limited edition Cognac with a round and rich subtlety that has a bright amber colour with a golden sheen. When it embraces both nose and palate, there is an unmistakable presence of lightly grilled, unshelled almonds and candied apricots with a faintly sweet flavour. It is recommended that it be tasted neat or with three bright ice cubes.
For the introduction of Master Blender’s Selection N°1, the Maison Hennessy wished to celebrate its time-honoured ties with the United States, which became its very first export market over 200 years ago. This made-to-measure blend will therefore debut exclusively in the U.S. in October 2016 and will be available in two sizes – 375ml ($45) and 750ml ($80).
Portrait of a Modern Cognac
To convey the spirit of Master Blender’s Selection N°1, Hennessy reached out to Australian-born, New York-based artist CJ Hendry.
When it comes to craft, Hennessy and Hendry are kindred spirits; their works reveal a unique style and signature that can only come from many years of refining a personal creative process – and yet both embody a highly contemporary attitude.
An architect by training, Hendry is renowned for a hyper-realistic drawing technique she modestly calls “scribbling”, yet her product pen drawings and still-lifes are so finely wrought that they look like photographs.
Echoing the sentiment of Master Blender Yann Fillioux, CJ Hendry observes: “My craft is about passion and patience. It requires time, sacrifice and love. Most of all, it is a gift, and a way of life.”
The Master Blender is the guardian of Hennessy’s Cognac, ensuring that each blend’s quality is exceptionally consistent so that it stands the test of time. Nothing captures the spirit of this craft more than the new Master Blender’s Selection N°1. It is the result of the Master Blender’s freedom to create a Cognac of the moment that will not be duplicated.