Jas Hennessy & Co., commonly known simply as Hennessy (French pronunciation: [ɛnɛsi]), is a French cognac distiller with its headquarters located in Cognac, France. Jas Hennessy & Co. sells about 50 million bottles a year worldwide, making it the largest cognac producer, supplying more than 40% of the world’s cognac. The company is owned by Moët Hennessy, which is in turn owned by LVMH (66%) and Diageo (34%).
The story of the Hennessy began with one man’s vision. An Irish officer in the service of the King of France, Richard Hennessy foresaw the extraordinary international commercial potential of Cognac’s eaux-de-vie. In 1765, he set up his own business and founded a House that has since met with unequaled and unwavering success.
That success is the result of a constant quest for excellence in the creation of exceptional cognacs, coupled with an ambitious business development strategy. At the end of the 18th century, Hennessy began to extend its reach across the globe, starting with the United States. At the beginning of the 19th century, the House set its sights on Australia and Southeast Asia and later conquered the South American, Japanese and Chinese markets. In 1860, a quarter of cognac exports bore the name Hennessy name.
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In the 20th century, the work begun by the House’s founder was continued. A million cases were shipped in 1967, and the figure had doubled to two million just 20 years later. With over eight million cases sold in 2019, Hennessy is now the world’s leading premium spirits brand.
In addition to the fabulous commercial success of a brand present on every continent and in over 160 countries, Hennessy cognac is an ambassador for French art de vivre the world over.
The Hennessy cognac distillery was founded by Irish Jacobite military officer Richard Hennessy in 1765. His son James Hennessy gave the company its name Jas Hennessy & Co in 1813. During the 1970s, Kilian Hennessy, a fifth-generation direct descendant of Hennessy, became the CEO of Hennessy, succeeding his first cousin Maurice-Richard. Kilian Hennessy spearheaded the company’s 1971 merger with Moët et Chandon, which created Moët Hennessy.
Moët Hennessy merged with Louis Vuitton in 1987, creating one of the world’s largest luxury brand conglomerates, Louis Vuitton • Moët-Hennessy or LVMH. In 1988, a management crisis led to the group’s takeover by Bernard Arnault, owner of the haute couture house Christian Dior, with the support of Guinness. Kilian Hennessy remained on the company’s advisory board until his death in 2010 at the age of 103.