World Cognac Day falls on the 4th of June and is the perfect occasion to reflect on the spirit’s longstanding association with urban culture. Cognac, and Hennessy in particular, is the spirit of choice for game-changers and boundary-breakers. Today, Hennessy is an iconic brand in hip hop with an association that began over 100 years ago. 

Khomotso Ledwaba, brand manager of Hennessy SA, says that they are proud to be so closely associated with hip hop. “Ever since first being uttered in a verse, the brand has featured in over 2500 songs and made a lasting mark on the genre. Think of hits like Hennessy by 2Pac, Gravy by Nasty C, Raga Raga by Gemini Major, Hennessy N Buddha by Snoop Dogg, One Dance by Drake, It Ain’t Easy by Tupac, and Hennessy by Tshego.”

From its distinguished history to its longstanding cultural associations, Hennessy is synonymous with the celebration of perfection

Hennessy has also embarked on high-profile partnerships, including collaborating with the likes of American rapper and record producer Rakim, and rapper, songwriter, and entrepreneur Nas. The associations go beyond music to showcase the talents of urban culture legends across the genre – from dancers and DJs to graffiti artists. Every year, a top street artist is asked to design a limited edition bottle of Hennessy V.S. Over the last decade these partnerships have included legends such as Shepard Fairey and Kaws and most recently, prolific Portuguese graffiti artist Vhils. This year, it’s a famous multimedia muralist – the partnership will be announced soon. 

Locally, cognac has also come to be closely linked to South African hip hop culture. Recently, the brand was announced as headline sponsor of Back To The City and in partnership with Osmic Menoe, helped launch the first-ever South African Hip Hop Museum. This includes the Hennessy Wall of Fame, which pays tribute to the legendary pioneers like Slikour and HHP who have made the genre what it is today. 

Ledwaba concludes, “World Cognac Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the ongoing relationship between Hennessy and the culture. As a brand proudly synonymous with urban culture around the world, we continue to celebrate those who break boundaries and boldly push the limits of their own potential.”

Why celebrate World Cognac Day?

From its distinguished history to its longstanding cultural associations, Hennessy is synonymous with the celebration of perfection. Primarily using Ugni Blanc grapes picked from designated growing regions around Cognac, France, blending the eaux-de-vie is an art that takes centuries to perfect. 

Hennessy’s Master Blender Renaud Fillioux de Gironde is the eighth successive generation in his family to hold the prestigious title. Every day at 11 sharp, the Tasting Committee gathers to taste and grade the eaux-de-vie – the world’s largest collection – to ensure the legacy of excellence continues. Each year more than 10 000 eaux-de-vie are sampled. 

Cognac is in a league of its own. Hence, it’s fitting to pay tribute to it in a way that champions its versatility. Although cognac is made according to strict rules, there is just one rule when it comes to drinking Hennessy: enjoy it any way you want! Adds Ledwaba: “Make it your own this World Cognac Day, whether you pair it with your favourite mixer or enjoy it on the rocks. There are no rules.”

Why not enjoy Hennessy in an unexpected way:

  • Dark chocolate: Try pairing your cognac, especially with the fruitier notes of a V.S.O.P or X.O, with velvety dark chocolate or coffee flavoured chocolate. Add Hennessy to your chocolate fondant or a cup of hot chocolate
  • Beef fillet with creamy mushroom sauce: Hennessy pairs perfectly with buttery mushroom sauce
  • Ginger: The spice of the ginger ale brings out the natural spice of Hennessy V.S
  • Coffee: Coffee and cognac go together beautifully, add a twist by pouring equal measures over ice cream for a Hennessy Affogato 
  • Citrus: A burnt citrus dessert gives off the ideal citrus notes, perfect for pairing
  • Duck: The dark, rich, and fatty notes of duck, particularly Asian spiced duck, will be heightened by Hennessy V.S.O.P. The sweet and sour profile is rounded out by the maturity of a well-aged cognac
  • Honey Glazed Pork belly and Hennessy VSOP will make a Sunday roast something special