I'm not that familiar with cognac, so it was with some trepidation that I lifted the glass to take my first sip of this Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition by Futura.
Before I opened the bottle, I did some reading and found Hennessy's popularity has increased in recent years, mainly because of references in numerous rap and hip-hop songs.
Its American consumer base has gone from a predominantly older, affluent white demographic to younger, urban and black entrepreneurs.
The list of rappers who have professed a love for this particular drop includes 2Pac and Snoop Dogg. Cognac, a variety of brandy, and gangster rap seem an incongruous mix at first, but then you only have to look at rappers' music videos to see they have a foot in both camps - glamorising life on the street while also enjoying the finer things in life. You'd think Hennessy, a world-leading cognac house which sells about 50 million bottles a year worldwide, or more than 40 per cent of the world's cognac, might have had reservations about its new fan base.
Rather than run for the hills, Hennessy has embraced its street cred. The bottle's label features artwork from graffiti provocateur Futura 2000. The artist was chosen as a creative partner because he took art from the street to the gallery.
However, the truth is in the tasting, and when I took my first sip the flavour bore no reflection to the brash new image on the bottle's label.
It was refined, smooth and full of diverse flavours.
Hennessy Very Special brings together an intense and fruity character with pleasant oaky notes, and the powerful flavours evoke grilled almonds supported by the fresh notes of the grapes.
Primarily used for cocktails, I mixed it with Coke and it was just fine. It wasn't bad neat, either.