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The Good Life

Precision is Art
A special installation in France celebrates the spirit behind the world's most famous cognac

Clockwise from top left: The image created by moving light from crystals with the MLF installation; The Hennessy Paradis Impérial; Vials of eaux de vie; Master Blender Renaud Fillioux de Gironde and his uncle Yann; MLF's robotic arm in the artwork

One of the world’s greatest cognac makers, Hennessy, is created out of the eaux-de-vie that lie in the ‘Founder’s Cellar’ in Cognac, France, resting in oak barrels and dame-jeannes. The cognac would never come to life were it not for the savoir-faire — the art of selection — passed down through eight generations of master blenders from a single family: the Fillioux. Hennessy Paradis Impérial embodies the apogée of the art of selection at Hennessy. The Master Blender exclusively selects within this collection the eaux-de-vie of the most extreme finesse. In an entire harvest, only 10 of 10 000 eaux-de-vie are deemed worthy of entering this blend.

To celebrate this art of precision, the artist collective Marshmallow Laser Feast has developed a special installation in the Founder’s Cellar, commissioned by Hennessy. It’s a metallic structure that features hundreds of acrylic crystals, reflecting the light of a laser. Sound and light collaborate in this work of art, that represent the Master Blender’s quest. What is this quest? It begins every day at 11am, where the seven members of the Hennessy Tasting Committee meet in the Grand Bureau de Dégustation, in an office at Hennessy Headquarters, near the Charente River, in the town of Cognac. Here, under the direction of Master Blender Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, the tasting committee pursues the quest of perfection of 250 years — tasting 10,000 eaux de vie, writing down the characteristics of each in a Grand Cahier (large notebook). The eaux-de-vie are kept in vials, and with his knowledge and intuition, the Master Blender determines which eaux-de-vie has reached its peak.

It was the ambition of Yann Fillioux, who passed on his own role as Master Blender to his nephew Renaud, to compose a blend made of these rarest eaux-de-vie. The result is a cognac of such subtlety and precision, he named it Hennessy Paradis Impérial, in honour of the cellar that has yielded its treasures.

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