First let’s cover the color: Hennessy Black, a spinoff of standard Hennessy cognac designed as a cocktail ingredient, is not black. It’s a dark gold color, much like any cognac you’re likely to encounter.
A blend of up to 45 eaux-de-vie, Hennessy Black is aged five years and dropped into a wholly opaque bottle designed to evoke the night.
The palate of this cognac is, to put it bluntly, rough. It has that back-of-the-throat bite that reminds me of young armagnac, though there is more fruit on the front of the palate. Fortunately, the sweeter notes that are there has good flavor, with citrus and perfumed cedar moderate in the mix.
But Hennessy Black suffers from its youth. The wood notes are rustic and have a turpentine character that really mars the finish. Not overly sweet like many young cognacs, it suffers from being too far on the other side of the fence. Stick with standard Hennessy.
UPDATE: At the behest of fellow drinks writer Camper English, I tried Hennessy Black with Coke, and it does indeed make for a better mixer than a straight spirit. The Coke is particularly effective at masking Black’s rougher flavors, and its sweetness is more prominent in the mix. That said, I shudder for the hangover young club-goers will have after a night of drinking these…