August 01, 2015
In a fairytale like setting, dozens of Nassau’s elite gathered at Commonwealth Brewery Limited’s (CBL) invitation to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Hennessy, the cognac of cognacs.
“For one quarter of a millennium Hennessy has been the cognac of choice for discerning aficionados, tastemakers and drinkers around the world,” said CBL Managing Director Hans Neven.
“It has a rich history, enjoyed by the kings of Great Britain and czars of Russia. In The Bahamas, it is eagerly relished and enjoyed from Lyford Cay to Bain Town, from West End to Matthew Town.”
So popular is Hennessy in The Bahamas that in a little more than 20 years since CBL won exclusive rights to its distribution, sales of the cognac have skyrocketed. Those sales have been supported by creative promotions, including trips to Cognac, France, where the drink that has been compared to a dream originated and continues to be made.3
Now part of the luxury goods company that includes Louis Vuitton and Moet, Hennessy’s history dates back to 1765, with the first shipment to the United States sailing nearly 30 years later to New York City. Despite China’s consumption, the U.S. continues to be the largest growth market for the $2.3 billion cognac industry and to celebrate its 250th anniversary in the U.S., Hennessy sailed an historic ship across the Atlantic delivering a special Collector Blend. The rich history of the product was not lost on the crowd that gathered by invitation only for entry at the door of Sapodilla Estate in Nassau July 25.
On hand for the elegant affair was Hennessy Caribbean Regional Manager Geoffrey Bouilly. “It’s something quite special for us to be here in The Bahamas tonight. Hennessy over the last years with our partner CBL/Burns House has been a huge, huge business success,” said Bouilly.
“The strength of the brand is amazing. The engagement of our consumers has grown and today it is a matter of passion between our consumer and the Hennessy brand. We are extremely proud.” Company spokesmen are not alone in talking about Hennessy as if it were so extraordinary it could exist only in dreams.
It’s been called “rare, indulgent, sell-your-home-for” good. One reviewer heeded his server’s advice to watch and wait patiently as the cognac sat for an hour after being poured slowly into a slightly warmed glass. Even Hennessy’s various bottles have been dubbed works of art, portals worthy of their contents.
But on this night of celebration in The Bahamas, it was all about the magic of what imaginative bartenders mixed with the famed cognac that earned accolades and prizes. The event culminated in the final stage of a three-part series of anniversary bartending competitions with Hennessy as the central ingredient. Eleven bartenders entered the competition with five finalists emerging from the first competition held at Blue Waters Lounge. Those five competed at a second round held at Senor Frogs with two eliminated paving the way for the three finalists to mix, shake, dress and serve their surprise cognac specialty drink at the 250-year anniversary celebration. Marv Cunningham took first place, winning the $2,500 first prize with his Hennessy Holiday presentation. Andre Eli Walkes finished second, winning $500 for his Hennessy Passion, AKA Incredible Hulk and Dicienzo Storr walked away with third place prize and $250 for his Rich Raz.
CBL is The Bahamas’ leading manufacturer and distributor of beer, wine and spirits and Hennessy is among its highest end products designed for a luxury market while its healthy alternative non-alcoholic beverages like Kalik Radler 0.0% and Fayrouz are winning a growing share of the market. The company employs some 380 persons, has 3,000 local shareholders who have altogether invested more than 62.5 million dollars. In addition to the 150,000 square-foot brewery sprawled across almost 20 acres at Clifton Pier where Kalik, Heineken, Guinness, Vitamalt, Ole Nassau and Ron Ricardo rums are produced, CBL distributes 70-plus labels of beer, wines and spirits, and owns 52 retail stores throughout The Bahamas. CBL’s major recycling plant produces more than 50% of the brewery’s bottles.
Cognac as culinary art – After three rounds of eliminations, mixologist Marv Cunningham, centre, walks away with $2,500 and the top prize in a spirited Hennessy bartending competition. The final round was staged during Commonwealth Brewery Limited’s celebration marking Hennessy’s 250th anniversary. On hand were Geoffrey Bouilly, Hennessy Caribbean Regional Manager, left, and Hans Neven, Managing Director CBL.
Hennessy Happiness – And the winner is. After three rounds of competition at three locations, Marv Cunningham’s Hennessy Holiday emerged as the winner, a combination that won Cunningham $2,500.
Haven & Hennessy –Lionel Haven and guest enjoy the 250th anniversary of Hennessy celebration hosted by Commonwealth Brewery Limited at Sapodilla Estate July 25.
Bottle as art – Celebrating 250 years, the Hennessy brand is known for the elegance of its bottles along with the flavor and richness of its cognac.
Substance meets style – A touch of glamour helped set the stage at Sapodilla Estate when Hennessy marked its 250th anniversary at an elegant event hosted by the cognac’s exclusive distributor in The Bahamas, Commonwealth Brewery Limited.