Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hennessy V.S.O.P - The Story

A brand that we all trust

You've seen it. You've heard of it. You've drank it. Hennessy V.S.O.P is one of the best cognac around. To be honest, do you know what the V.S.O.P means? It stands for "Very Superior Old Pale". On 7th October 1817, the future King George  IV of England asked the great French cognac House to supply him with a special cognac; and so the words "Very Superior Old Pale" was born.

This cognac’s personality has gone unchanged for nearly two centuries. Under the stewardship of Hennessy’s cellar master, the Tasting Committee hands down the secrets of selection, ageing and blending, as can be seen in the use, for maturation, of oak barrels that have lost part of their tannin, so as to avoid giving the eau de vie excessively woody notes while providing an elegant expression.

With that said, Hennessy wants to maintain it's strong character and essence that it needed a new bottle design to best represent such elegance and presence. And with that came designer Chris Bangle.

Who is Chris Bangle?

Christopher Edward "Chris" Bangle is an American automobile designer known for his daring design and far-reaching influence. Bangle is known best for his work as Chief of Design for BMW Group, where he was responsible for the BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce motor cars from 1992 to 2006.

The Hennessy V.S.O.P new carafe is his first masterpiece outside the automobile industry. For Hennessy V.S.O.P., the designer first sought to identify the cognac’s personality by delving into its history.

For him, a product cannot be summed up by a function or an aesthetic: a product is living thing.

“Designing for Hennessy gave me the same sensations as working on designs for fast BMWs or a great Rolls Royce. It is that experience of a unique emotion.”

I was able to meet the man himself during the bottle launch at Doubletree Hotel by Hilton afew weeks back.

Before you take your bottle of Hennessy V.S.O.P to check out the older design compared to the new one, here are the key changes.


  • Slightly accentuated the curve in the side of the bottle, reinforcing the dynamic of its silhouette (by less than 1mm).
  • Inspired by the Hennessy V.S.O.P. bottle created in 1954, Chris Bangle chose to confirm this upward movement with a thicker base resembling a pedestal to distinguish the whole and stabilise it.
  • Added a hollow bottom to the bottle to adapt it for handling.
  • Lengthened the bottle’s neck and straightened its shoulders, stretching it vertically.
  • Drew two lines of perspectives in the glass around the central label, creating an optical effect by structuring the front of the bottle with a pyramid perspective (a reminder of the notion of uplift, dear to V.S.O.P.) Actually, this geometry attracts one’s regard toward the top of the bottle, where Chris Bangle chose to engrave the legendary arm and axe of the Hennessy family into the glass itself.
  • Revised the choice of paper and colours for the labels: a few millimetres from the arm and axe, the symbolic Hennessy V.S.O.P. oval is coloured in a dark grey ennobled with golden embossing, a reminder of the alchemy of contrasts comprising it. The main label highlights this refinement with a shimmering gloss imprinted with clusters of grapes and vine leaves in the background as a subliminal reminder of the origins of the cognac contained in the bottle.

When we have a new bottle, the packaging will also require a new look. Here are some of the changes made to the box which holds the new bottle.

  • The box that the bottle comes in has also benefited from this renewal, giving its edges over to a more modern vision: the sides have been refined so that all we see is the bottle, dramatised by photographer Adam Savitch.
  • The “Superior” quality of the cognac is evoked by the liquid splash of V.S.O.P. on the back of the bottle, a reminder of the curves of an “S”.
  • Lastly, one side of the box, called “Black Tie”, glorifies elegant purity on a black background decorated with a band of golden vine leaves, echoing the bottle’s label. This band is part of the heritage of the Hennessy V.S.O.P. box created in 1954, where it appeared in a red and gold version.

Last but not least, who do you know what you're getting is the real deal? Here are the security features for the new bottle:
  • A laser stamp for the 35-cl, 70-cl and 3-litre bottles and a hologram of increased complexity (now with new horizontal lines forming a grape cluster) seal the cap. The “Superior” quality of the cognac is evoked by the liquid splash of V.S.O.P. on the back of the bottle, a reminder of the curves of an “S”.

Of course, I won't be able to share these information unless I have a source for it right? Facebook my friends. It seems to be the source of everything. For latest information and events for Hennessy Malaysia, please visit their facebook page.

Now that I'm typing this at the end of my blog post, I would also know how to pronounce cognac the right way. LOL

Have a good week ahead peeps!

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