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Review: Hennessy Black Cognac

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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…

80 proof.

C- / $40 / hennessyblack.com

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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13 Comments

  1. Camper English July 1, 2010

    I wonder if it was formulated to mix well with Coke, as that is how much of it will be consumed in clubs. Can’t hurt to try as you don’t like it much on its own…

    Reply
  2. Christopher Null July 1, 2010

    Camper – Good point. Need to get Coke.

    Reply
  3. Kevin Gray July 3, 2010

    Agree that it seems like a mixing spirit. Makes sense, as their promotional materials state: “The brand will aim to reach young, hip consumers through dance and music in high-energy settings across the country.”

    Nothing about that says sipping spirit.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous September 1, 2010

    Anyone who suggests mixing an even halfway decent cognac with coke should not be writing a review on cognac. As a nearly daily connoisseur of cognac, I would not say that Hennessy Black is rough – if anything, it is not rough enough. To suggest that this product should be mixed is merely a misunderstanding of the liqueur and probably an attempt to appeal to pop culture references to Hennessy (which is understandable from a business standpoint, I suppose). I would agree that Hennessy Black is a less complex, slightly floral cognac compared to VSOP (and at nearly the same price, a very different drink). I guess my main point is that if you are looking to make a mixed drink, why waste a perfectly good cognac?

    Reply
  5. Christopher Null September 2, 2010

    Anon – As Camper stated, this cognac was specifically designed as a mixer. I personally never drink Cognac any way other than neat, so mixing it is a little foreign to me, too.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous II November 24, 2010

    I agree totally 1000 + % with Anonymous. Cognac is made from grapes that grow SEASONALLY in Cognac, France. Mixing a cognac is for the super rookie. I just bought a bottle and took 2 sips and I’m sold. And this is coming from a man who buys a bottle of Hennessy XO $140 once or twice a year. The taste is definitely Hennessy and but with a twist that’s pure perfection in my opinion.

    Reply
  7. Josh Medici December 14, 2010

    I like to mix it with Coke… in Mexico is called Paris de Noche (Paris at Night)… and it tastes great… And if you mix it chilled with ice and Kalhua you have a Mestizo… Great as a shot drink.

    of course I can enjoy a straight drink no ice please, but if you’re out partying with friends and want to enjoy the night drinking a smooth flavor, mixing it is a good option.

    Reply
  8. Alexandre February 6, 2011

    The Hennessy Black is indeed easy and fresh. A more detailed review find here:

    http://blog.cognac-expert.com/hennessy-black-review-tasting-notes-henny/

    Reply
  9. David February 15, 2011

    86 proof dude!!!

    Reply
  10. jason longboard July 2, 2011

    We fell in love with this stuff. Extreme floral notes and a bit of an alcohol bite, such a unique taste you keep going back for more so be cautious. I bought a friend a bottle for his B day and he left it here one night, all gone, very hard to resist for some reason.

    Reply
  11. jason longboard July 2, 2011

    Oh and PS,,,,I see people saying to mix it with coke. I just cant hold this bottle and sip it thinking to put soda in it, just goes to show our tongues are all so different, and with the Black, I’m glad your tongues are not in my mouth lol.

    Reply
  12. Timothy WTaylor May 4, 2012

    Well I’m not going to say too much but if you like to mix your drinks with coke do so.hennessy and coke is the best drink you can blend together and not have to worry bout a hang over too much…

    Reply
  13. Gary August 10, 2015

    Chris, you are entirely right with this. It’s really bad. Who cares if it’s 86 proof – you can easily get plenty of bourbons that taste much better than this at 100 proof or greater (and cheaper) that taste much better than this straight or mixed. Makes me think most of the pro comments on here are either plants, or simply clueless….

    Just tried compared against regular Henessy, and the latter far outshine the Black.

    Reply

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