In a groundbreaking collaboration, Hennessy welcomed acclaimed media artist and director Refik Anadol to its historic seat in Cognac, France. The result of this is the Hennessy VSOP X Refik Anadol limited edition bottle.
Over the years, maison Hennessy has always preserved its more than 250 years of history and DNA, and continues to present it in a myriad of beautiful ways — most evidently in the Hennessy VSOP X Refix Anadol design. And who better to introduce us to this newest limited edition bottle than Hennessy global brand ambassador Jordan Bushell.
An Artistic Blend
The design of the bottle showcases Refik Anadol perpetuating the rich legacy of Hennessy’s master blenders with a showcase of colours and textures.
“Artists are always pushing boundaries whether it be musically, theatrically, visually, or in something like what Refik is doing – mixed media,” Bushell shares. Refik Anadol collects and uses data to design digital artworks, and to him, the world is a huge database – everything interconnects with each other and inspires him.
When maison Hennessy invited Refik over to France to design the packaging, he got to explore a new source of inspiration, which is the birth of VSOP itself. He was inspired when he saw how the tasting committee selects the eaux-de-vie to form the blends year after year, while achieving the same amazing alchemy. Refik decided then to create a masterpiece based on Hennessy’s intangible memory.
Using 3D data mapping, he captured data from the tasting committee’s minds, as they went about smelling and tasting the eaux-de-vies. He and his team then transformed the data into pigments, which was showcased in the Sense of Heritage – an infinity room which provides a deep and stirring dive into Hennessy’s legacy. The one-of-a-kind immersive experience was next transferred onto an object within the physical realm, which led to his poetic packaging for the 2021 Hennessy VSOP Privilege Limited Edition.
We caught up with Bushell to find out more about the Hennessy VSOP X Refik Anadol creation over a virtual session.
Q: Name your all-time favourite VSOP cocktail which is simple to make.
I’ll give you two, because one is really simple, which I find myself reaching to the most. It’s simply a VSOP highball. All you need is 45ml of Hennessy VSOP, topped with club soda or sparkling water with an orange twist, which is super refreshing. Then when I want to take that up a notch, I can add teas or other different flavours to lengthen the flavours.
Another favourite of mine is a classic sazerac; it works really well with VSOP but is on a stronger spectrum, whereas the highball is really light and refreshing.
What was the inspiration behind the cocktail you created for the Hennessy VSOP X Refik Anadol design reveal?
We wanted to bring to life Refik’s work, of mapping the minds of our tasting committee, which is very ethereal, and we wanted to have a representation of it. We used beets to create a colour match with Refik’s choice, while ginger added a brightness to the beet while adding a little spice to the cognac, on top of the rose water which gives a floral hint to the drink. It all complements Hennessy well, with that red coming together.
How does Hennessy stay ahead while sticking true to its roots?
Well, we stay ahead because we look at the arts as a collaborative partner, and we experiment with different ingredients and move into different areas, like with Refik. Then our master blender too, is an artist in his own right by taking the different blends and mixing them together to create the perfect flavour — which is grounded in our history. That helps us stay ahead because we’re never going to settle just because we make great cognac.
How do you convince a purist that VSOP can be used for cocktails?
My job is to create something that you’ll enjoy. We all know that Hennessy VSOP is amazing, and if you want to drink it neat, great, that makes my job super easy. All I need to do is pour it in a glass and hand it to you.
But if you’re not into cognac, or not a neat spirits drinker, then a cocktail is the direction for you. Or perhaps the cocktail works better with specific food you’re eating. So a cocktail takes you in a new direction but with the same base, and can help introduce you to flavours you didn’t think you’d like. Just delve into what you love.
What are your thoughts on the collaboration between Hennessy VSOP and Refik Anadol?
I love it, because it’s pushing art in a lot of ways and it’s also pushing us from a sensorial side. When I look at hospitality, it’s moving in a direction where it has to be entertaining. The younger generation is not looking for the same things the past generations have looked for. They’re looking for a true experience, and if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on something, that bar or restaurant better provide something entertaining to you. So that’s where clever garnishing, rituals and visuals come into play.
And there’s something about what Refik has done which really helps to see into someone’s mind, and which will hopefully connect with people to help them understand what the tasting committee is experiencing in a small way. I definitely love the collaboration and it is super interesting.
Learn more about the Hennessy VSOP Privilege Refik Anadol Limited Edition at the official Hennessy website here.