In 2021, Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège boldly recasts its savoir-faire in an unexpected new dimension.
In a groundbreaking collaboration, Hennessy invited world renowned media artist and director Refik Anadol to take a historic seat in Cognac, France, to observe the Tasting Committee at work. Never before in Maison’s history has anyone been allowed to sit in with the Tasting Committee and just watch them do what they do best. What transpired in the room allowed him to capture the moment in time via neuroscientific research methods, by collecting sensorial data with the help of machine intelligence to create a stunning abstract, dreamlike, masterpiece of art.
In keeping with Hennessy’s tradition, the Los Angeles-based artist received carte blanche to create a contemporary masterpiece to celebrate the new iconic V.S.O.P Privilège blend. Upon touring the Hennessy estate and Founder’s Cellar, he was immediately inspired by Hennessy’s heritage in preserving its savoir-faire generation after generation.
Enduring mastery and new modes of expression came together in an extraordinary convergence. In an experiment borrowed from another realm, the Hennessy Tasting Committee were more than happy to “open up their minds” to a completely unconventional experiment. Geared up in high-tech equipment, Master Blender Renaud Fillioux de Gironde and his colleagues allowed Refik Anadol to track their emotions and sensations in real time, capturing their every move which included blood pressure, brainwaves, body temperature and heart rate while they savoured and appreciated the eaux-de-vie.
“In our craft, we are constantly classifying, describing, and trying to find exactly the right words to convey our feelings and experiences,” said Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, Hennessy’s 8th-generation Master Blender. “We were all very intrigued to see what elements technology might bring to light.”
During the traditional 11am meeting, a specialised electroencephalogram (EEG), typically reserved for laboratory research, was used to capture sensorial data as each member of the Tasting Committee tasted a selection of eaux-de-vie specially made for Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège. Equipped with sensors on their heads, the committee carried out their ritual which has remained unchanged for generations. Their every move, feeling and sensation was then recorded and collected as data. Past and present merged in what Refik Anadol describes as “a near-future experience, in real time.”
“Emotion lives in the senses, on the skin, in the heart, and in the mind — and with this hyper-sensitive equipment, we are able to trace everything, down to the movement of the glass,” Refik Anadol explains. “You can see heritage and savoir-faire become visible and observe how the material actually becomes the wisdom.”
Back in his California studio, Refik Anadol and his team filtered the raw data — two centuries’ worth of living memory — through sophisticated analytics, transforming the data set into pigments and light. What emerged was a harmonious dialogue, an “architecture of memory”, that was remarkably consistent across subjects at a specific point in time.
“With help from machine intelligence, we embarked on a journey through gene memories and dreams. Neuro-scientifically, the Tasting Committee is the source of memory, dreaming about the future,” he says.
The result is a three-dimensional data sculpture masterpiece named Sense of Heritage as the design of the Limited Edition bottle, which was also turned into an immersive audio-visual installation, which will be revealed in May in Shanghai.
“I’m absolutely amazed by the work Refik did and how he made something intangible and invisible, visible. We can literally see and touch the sensations and feelings of the Tasting Committee as they savour and approve of the blend. Unique collaborations like this have always been something Hennessy looks for as we try to innovate but at the same time preserve our heritage and history,” says Thomas Bouleuc, Moët Hennessy Diageo Malaysia and Singapore’s Managing Director.
The 2021 Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Limited Edition by Refik Anadol will be available for purchase at selected participating outlets and e-retail partner in Malaysia.
Any purchase of the Limited Edition bottle comes with a special invitation to the pop-up activation located in One Utama Shopping Centre Old Wing, Ground Floor, from 25th to 27th June 2021, providing consumers an immersive sensorial experience of Anadol’s work. Each consumer will be required to register via a microsite: https://hennessy.vip/refikpurchase to book their slots.
For more details, visit Hennessy’s Malaysia Facebook page.