I once was lucky enough to share the table with Maurice-Richard Hennessy, indulging in an opulent candle-lit dinner at the former family home in France – Château de Bagnolet that was built in 1810 on the banks of the Charente. Hanging high above the crackling fireplace was his family coat of arms, proudly showcased in the magnificent white wood-paneled dining room of the stately home.
That evening was certainly one of the most unique and memorable culinary experiences of my life; not only was the evening filled with enchanted elegance, but our intimate group of nine listened intently as Maurice-Richard Hennessy recounted tales of the storied-history of the world’s most famous cognac house and laughed at memories with his childhood friend, Cyrille Gautier-Auriol, the Global Ambassador of Hennessy.
As the eight generation descendent of the founder of Hennessy, you’d think a man with such a surname, would be more arrogant. On the contrary, unassuming, jovial and relaxed; Maurice-Richard, the family face that frequently graces the glossy pages of Tatler’s high society pages was a delight to dine with, and more recently, honoured Nairobi with his presence for the celebration of Kenya’s 50 years of independence.
KENYA TURNS 50
As Kenya celebrated 50 years of independence on Thursday, the House of Hennessy created a revival design of the 1963 bottle, which represented a bygone era and commemorated this milestone in the nation’s history. The special edition bottle of the famous Hennessy V.S. cognac, a reincarnation of 1963, was aptly unveiled and presented by Maurice-Richard in Nairobi, Kenya.
“This is a memory of 1963,” Maurice-Richard explained as he held one of the limited edition bottles adoringly. “The 1963 label uses more of a classic font and was most likely designed by an uncle of mine, the same man that designed the iconic X.O. bottle in 1947.”
With only 2,013 special edition bottles produced, each bottle having been uniquely numbered, certain bottles were auctioned at an exclusive gala held at Nairobi’s swanky Villa Rosa Kempinski. The proceeds benefited Sarakasi Trust, a performing arts development organization that works with the youth through nurturing talent in art, music and dance in Kenya – an example of Hennessy’s commitment to the community.
As expected, bottle number 1963 fetched the highest bid from the ten auspiciously numbered bottles that were auctioned, raising KSh 210,000 alone. The glamourous evening saw more than KSh 453,000 raised during the event – a befitting end to a night of celebrating history, legacy and helping the community.
NOTE: The special edition bottles Hennessy V.S. cognac bottles are available in Nakumatt, Chandarana, Mega Wines, New Westlands and Wines of the World, The bottles are exclusively sold only in Kenya.