Hennessy vs Courvoisier – Comparing Two Popular Premium Cognacs

Nothing is more soothing than a serving of premium cognac. Hennessy and Courvoisier both fall under the category of the most exclusive and expensive brands of cognac that are at the forefront of the liquor world.

Though they both occupy prominent positions among the leading Cognac brands and are essentially the same type of liquor, a few key factors set them apart. One of the most notable differences between the two is their aging process.

Courvoisier undergoes aging in 200-year-old handmade oak barrels, while Hennessy undergoes maturity in handmade casks of French oak.

Read the article below to gain a deeper insight into each brand and determine in the Hennessy vs Courvoisier debate which one comes up top.

History and Origin

Hennessy

hennessy

Hennessy originated in Cognac, a region in France. The founder of Hennessy was an Irish military officer called Richard Hennessy, who later became a successful businessman.

When he was only 19, Hennessy departed from Ireland and went to France. Here he served under Louis XV during the War.

After retiring from the armed forces, Hennessy focused on trade and sought guidance from his uncle. At last, his efforts bore fruit, and he established Hennessy Cognac in 1765.

Courvoisier

courvoisier

On the contrary, Courvoisier had its inception in 1835 under the leadership of Emmanuel Courvoisier and Louis Gallois.

Initially, the two men were only traders but later decided to establish their liquor brand. For this purpose, they relocated to those French areas where the best quality grapes were available.

When Napoleon the third ascended to the throne, these men became the “Official Supplier to the Imperial Court”. When the son took control of the brand, he shifted the company to Jarnac, the center of Cognac, where it is still present.

Similarities

The competition between Courvoisier vs. Hennessy may be intense since they are both among the greatest cognac brands worldwide. However, there are a few similarities between the two that is difficult to ignore.

The distilleries of both brands are present in Cognac, where the best quality grapes in all of France grow. Due to the favorable location, both companies have easy access to premium quality grapes for making their liquor.

Moreover, regardless of the competition between Courvoisier vs. Hennessy, they are both among the famous “Big Four”. This term refers to the top 4 brands in the cognac-producing industry that people recognize worldwide.

Also, both brands bear a fruity taste in their cognac, although the finishing flavor varies. Furthermore, both have 40% alcohol by volume and are 80 proof, making them similar in potency and concentration.

Differences between Hennessy vs. Courvoisier

Taste of Courvoisier

The different varieties of Courvoisier present milder and sweeter flavors that are more flowery and fruity.

The master blender at Courvoisier put a lot of effort into formulating a precise combination of flavors suitable for everyone. Hence seasoned drinkers and newcomers are all equally attracted to the mild taste of Courvoisier.

The Courvoisier VS promises a flowery taste with the scent of pears and grapes, while the Courvoisier VSOP bears a well-proportioned flavor with some notes of Champagne.

The Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif delivers a fruity flavor with subtle hints of chocolate, caramel, and vanilla that are highly pleasing to the senses.

Taste of Hennessy

Hennessy has carried on with the classic flavor that first made it very popular.

Hennessy cognac lets you experience a fruity flavor in every sip but with a unique burnt taste and a subtle suggestion of oak. Additionally, you can also detect traces of vanilla, chocolate, and spices.

More specifically, the Hennessy Black carries a distinct taste of spices and heat, while the Hennessy VS bears a potent flavor of oak and vanilla.

Likewise, the Hennessy VSOP has a classic flavor of grapes and a rich taste of oak that lingers.

Hennessy vs Courvoisier – Production Process

Harvesting

To create the best cognac, Hennessy and Courvoisier source the finest grapes from four specific farms in Cognac. Farmers harvest grapes either by hand or by machines and handle them with great care to prevent damage.

Pressing

After harvesting, the manufacturers press the grapes in small batches using pneumatic presses. This guarantees extraction of good quality must with a minimum amount of grape solids and phenols.

Fermentation

Manufacturers ferment the Must into wine, which then undergoes distillation. In this step of winemaking, manufacturers refrain from adding any artificial sugars or sulfides to retain the natural tartness of grapes.

Distillation

This is a complex batch process involving two successive steps. Hence people refer to it as double distillation. The first step produces the rudimentary form of wine.

Hence it undergoes a second distillation that forms the Cognac wine spirit.

Aging

This is where the process varies in the making of Hennessy vs Courvoisier. As soon as the liquor arrives from the still, the manufacturers pour it into special barrels for a fixed period so it can mature. This creates the characteristic flavor, color, and aroma of the cognac.

For Hennessy, manufacturers use French limousin oak casks to age the liquor for at least two years. However, for Courvoisier, the manufacturers use 200 years old oak barrels.

As the cognac undergoes aging inside the casks, the manufacturers rotate the barrels and shift them to a different cellar depending on how the wine should develop.

Varieties

Since Hennessy and Courvoisier have been around for a long time, they have expanded their range of products considerably. Each brand now has a diverse selection of liquor to suit everyone.

Hennessy

varieties-hennessy
Image: Jason Stewart

Given below are the varieties available in Hennessy.

  • Hennessy Fine de Cognac
  • Hennessy Black
  • Hennessy Ellipse
  • Hennessy 8
  • James Hennessy
  • Hennessy Paradis
  • Hennessy X.X.O
  • Privilége V.S.O.P
  • Hennessy V.S
  • Hennessy X.O
  • Hennessy Master Blender’s selection
  • Richard Hennessy
  • Hennessy Paradis Imperial
  • Hennessy Timeless
  • Hennessy Black
  • Hennessy Classivm

Courvoisier

varieties-courvoisier

Given below is the diverse selection of products available in Courvoisier.

  • Courvoisier VS
  • Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif
  • Courvoisier XO
  • Courvoisier Initiale Extra
  • Courvoisier 21
  • L’Essence De Courvoisier
  • Courvoisier Succession JS
  • Courvoisier Gold
  • Courvoisier Rose
  • Courvoisier Cour Impériale Grand Champagne
  • L’Esprit de Courvoisier
  • Courvoisier Premier Reserve
  • Courvoisier 12
  • Courvoisier Emperor
  • Courvoisier Napoleon Fine Champagne
  • Courvoisier VSOP Fine Cognac
  • C by Courvoisier

Hennessy vs Courvoisier – What is the difference in the prices?

Although both brands of cognac have a major fan following, a bottle of Hennessy is more costly. Courvoisier is slightly more affordable than Hennessy. A bottle of Hennessy VS containing 700ml of liquor is around $60, while the same sized bottle of Courvoisier roughly costs $40.

The Hennessy VS is pricier because it undergoes double distillation to guarantee the flavor of this Eaux-de-vie. Courvoisier also creates premium quality liquor, with its most luxurious product being Courvoisier Initiale Extra which demands around $355.99.

On the contrary, the most luxurious product at Hennessy is Hennessy Paradis Imperial, which costs about $2500 for a 750ml bottle.

Although they are both more expensive than other brands of cognac available in the market, people prefer to spend money buying from these brands because each bottle promises exceptional quality and taste.

To better analyze the competitive prices of Hennessy vs Courvoisier, scan through the table below.

Serial No Type of Liquor Volume Price in dollars
1 Hennessy VSOP 700 ml 85
2 Hennessy Paradis 700 ml 1100
3 Hennessy VS 700 ml 60
4 Courvoisier VSOP 750 ml 35.99 – 39.99
5 Courvoisier VS 750 ml 22.99 – 24.99
6 Courvoisier Napoleon Fine Champagne 750 ml 69.99 – 76.99

Hennessy vs Courvoisier – How to Drink Each?

how to drink

Hennessy

According to an expert in France, you can enjoy good quality cognac in different ways. The younger kinds of cognac, like Hennessy VS and VSOP, are versatile and mix well with other ingredients to form a cocktail.

However, the more mature forms, like Hennessy XO or “Extra Old,” that undergo aging for at least ten years, have a strong and distinct taste.

Hence it is preferable to have them plain, either at room temperature or with ice to relish the depth of flavor. Moreover, to unlock the scent of cognac while having it neat, experts suggest putting in some cold water.

Courvoisier

Since Courvoisier has a mild and unique flavor, it pairs excellently with other ingredients and is best in a cocktail, whether you opt for the VS, VSOP, or even XO. Experts suggest using Courvoisier VSOP to create a cocktail called Sidecar.

It combines Courvoisier VSOP, freshly extracted lemon juice, orange liqueur, and some orange bitters in a cocktail glass. To this concoction, you add some French sparkling wine and ice for a refreshing kick.

For the Courvoisier XO, experts advise keeping things simple and making the Old Fashioned cocktail using ice, Courvoisier XO, and some maple syrup. They also suggest tossing in a dash of orange bitters for a zesty feel. Stir the concoction and strain it into a glass having ice.

Hennessy vs Courvoisier – Conclusion

Now you must have plenty of knowledge to choose your next bottle of cognac between Hennessy vs Courvoisier. Regardless of which one you select, you will not be disappointed by your choice because they are both among the leading Cognac companies worldwide.

So, grab a bottle, sit back, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised!