Hennessy XO brandy (40% ABV) summary

An iconic expression from one of the world’s most iconic cognac houses. Hennessy XO is the bottle that pioneered the XO classification. First bottled for friends and family over a century ago, it is now enjoyed by enthusiasts the world over, adored for its deep, dark flavours of leather and cocoa, topped with nuts and vanilla.


What's the story behind Hennessy?

What did Kim Jong-Il and Tupac have in common? A love of Hennessy, apparently. The cognac house once reported that the Korean dictator spent upwards of $800,000 a year on Paradis cognac, while Tupac celebrated the brand with a song of the same name. To say Hennessy is a cultural staple would be an understatement.

Richard Hennessy founded Hennessy in 1765, after settling on the banks of the Charente River in Cognac (after sustaining injuries as an army officer in the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745) and distilling wine into brandy. By 1794, Hennessy’s cognac was already being shipped to New York.

In 1865, Richard Hennessy’s great-grandson Maurice was part of the movement towards a star-based classification system to denote quality, reflected in the brand’s Three Star cognac.

Soon after in 1870, Maurice produced Hennessy XO. But, the bottle didn’t have the shape we know it by today until 1947, when Gérald de Geoffre de Chabrignac, a descendant of Richard Hennessy, designed the now-iconic XO carafe.

How is Hennessy XO made?

Hennessy’s cognacs are blended by a member of the same family that has been making the firm’s eau-de-vie for over 200 years. The current master blender is Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, the eighth generation of his family to take on the role.

Hennessy XO is made using over 100 different eau de vie, drawing on expressions from the Borderies and Fins Bois regions, as well as both the Petite and Grande Champagne crus. Originally bottled centuries ago for friends and family, this is a bottle now enjoyed the world over.

How is Hennessy XO to drink?

A thick, almost syrupy nose of raisins, leather, prunes and caramel-soaked orange welcomes you in. The palate gently wraps itself around your tongue, slowly enveloping you with an oily concoction of rich cocoa, toasted nuts, oak and cinnamon. Vanilla characterises the finish, along with baking spices and sultanas.

Best brandy recipes

Rich fruitcake
Brandy butter
Brandy snaps
Cornish crab bisque
Brandy Alexander
Easy sangria
Singapore sling


This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.