If you’ve ever experienced interactive theater, an escape room or even a really good haunted house, you know the thrill that comes from being immersed in something you’re not quite expecting. Enter Hennessy’s Le Grand Voyage, a new experiential and educational pop-up that serves up wows.
Hennessy has been producing fine cognac for more than 250 years. Its X.O expression turns 200 this year, and cognac in general is on the rise again, both as a neat sipper and in cocktails. But there’s so much to learn about how and why the Cognac region of France produces the finest brandy expressions in the world. Enter Le Grand Voyage.
Tucked inside a sprawling raw warehouse in the trending Sunset Park/Industry City neighborhood of Brooklyn, this weeklong experience draws guests in immediately. A nondescript, unmarked entrance unveils a multiroom, multisensory journey through the production and creation of cognac, from the growing of ugni blanc grapes in unpredictable weather extremes to the distilling process and aging in specific French oak barrels to the best ways to nose, taste, sip, mix and serve cognac, each room introduces you to a new element of the spirit’s journey. If that sounds like too much schooling just to get a drink, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
“Open up your mind to the relentless pursuit involved in achieving perfection,” says your guide as you sip on a punch cocktail featuring Hennessy V.S.O.P and begin your adventure. You sit in a darkened room while images flash on a screen. Then you’re launched into a 4-D interaction that will leave you impressed and thirsty for more.
Experience the unpredictable rains and dense fogs of western France. Sit among the same French Limousin oak barrels that age new spirit for four to 30 years or more, and learn how a clear distillate becomes, over time, a complex medley of oak, dried fruit, chocolate and flowers. Learn how Hennessy’s rigidly disciplined Tasting Committee noses and tastes each barrel of cognac (starting at 11 a.m. on the nose each day, every day for the past century) to combine 40 or more barrels of different ages into balanced expressions of Hennessy V.S.O.P and X.O cognac. Finally, enter the lounge changed, where you can sip on Hennessy X.O or V.S.O.P neat or in a cocktail and discuss all that you’ve experienced and learned.