How to distinguish real Hennessy cognac from counterfeit?

How to identify a real Hennessy Products

Original Hennessy recommend to buy here

How to identify a real Hennessy? Is the original in front of you or a fake? What is better to take - VS or XO? When buying which of the Hennessy-branded drinks is there less risk of counterfeiting? How is VSOP different?

Such questions concern every person who wants to buy expensive and status cognac. Regardless of the purpose for which elite alcohol is bought - as a gift, for business meetings and important negotiations, for oneself - no one wants to deal with counterfeit products.

From brand history

Cognac is not only alcohol, but also a French province. It was the name of the area that gave the name to the popular alcohol. The French are sincerely convinced to this day that only alcohol that is made from grapes grown in the province of Cognac can be called cognac. The rest of the similar alcohol, according to the inhabitants of France, is not cognac at all, but brandy.

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Hennessy XO

The position of the French is shared in other European countries. A similar conviction was formed in the late Middle Ages and it concerns not only cognacs. For example, champagne is a light spirit made from grapes harvested in the Champagne region, while other similar drinks are simply sparkling wines.

Read also: cognac Elder - how to identify a fake?

Accordingly, winemakers who want to produce real, by European standards, cognac and successfully sell it, need to settle in the province of Cognac. That's exactly what Richard Hennessy, the founder of the Hennessy cognac brand, did. He moved to the province of Cognac and opened production. The first Hennessy branded bottles found their way to consumers in 1765.

Original Hennessy and packaging

But there are many old wineries engaged in the production and sale of strong alcoholic beverages made from grape spirits. Why did Hennessy become a symbol of status, wealth, refined taste, luxury and respectability? Because one of the descendants of the founder of the company, Maurice Hennessy, in 1865 invented and introduced the original marking - asterisks.

This was done so that a person could understand which cognac in a bottle is young or aged. Maurice patented his idea, and his descendants still earn income to this day every time the "star" marking is used.

Varieties of Hennessy and cost

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Before you buy an elite drink, you need to know what the abbreviations on the labels mean. Otherwise, the risk of getting into an embarrassing situation is high.

For example, a person who is sure that the drink is poured exclusively into a figured bottle decorated with three-dimensional images may start arguing with the seller and refuse to buy. At the same time, it would never occur to him that he was offered original alcohol.

On the illiteracy of people who purchase elite alcohol, the underground market of counterfeit alcohol in all countries of the world is kept.

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Varieties of Hennessy

The abbreviation means the following:

VS (very special) - a budget affordable option, the bottle contains young "evil" cognac, aged in barrels for at least a couple of years, in the European Union a large bottle costs 13-14 euros, in Russia the cost exceeds a thousand rubles.

Cognac Hennessy VS (very special)

XO (extra old) - The king of cognacs of the Hennessy family, it contains a blend of hundreds of spirits of various varieties and years of grape harvest, the drink is aged for at least 20 years, its price in the EU countries is 180-190 euros, and in Russia the cost exceeds 13,000 rubles.

How to distinguish real Hennessy cognac from counterfeit?

VSOP (very superior old pale) - this is an improved, ennobled version of VS, the exposure is from 6 to 12 years, however, bottles with a drink that has survived only four years are sold on the domestic European market, the cost of this alcohol in the EU countries is 36-37 euros, in Russia - 2700-3000 rubles.

Cognac Hennessy

Expensive elite drinks are rarely counterfeited, since counterfeiters value the speed of sale and ease of production of the product. But Hennessy cognacs are an exception to the rule, these drinks are often falsified. How much alcohol costs is an excellent guideline in order to suspect something is wrong and demand certificates from sellers.

Distinctive features

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Lovers and connoisseurs of cognacs argue that it is possible to distinguish the original Hennessy from a counterfeit only by taste, during tasting. But what about those who have nothing to compare with? Characteristic features, distinctive features inherent in the original drink help to recognize a fake.

Original Hennessy and fake

You need to pay attention to the following nuances:

  • bottle;
  • excise;
  • Cork;
  • label;
  • volume;
  • characteristics of the drink.

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But guided by the bottle, label and other features, you can still buy a fake. Hennessy produces 50 million drinks annually. This means that several tens of millions of empty bottles remain every year. There are few people who have cognac for several years.

Hennessy branded box

When buying elite alcohol, you should forget about tact, embarrassment and ask the seller for documentation confirming the authenticity of the drink. The presented certificates must be photographed. If the seller starts to resent and get nervous, this is a reason to think.

Read also: Jack Daniels – we determine a fake in 5 minutes


The design of the bottle: in its upper part there is a three-dimensional engraving depicting the trademark logo - a hand holding a halberd.

Bottle type:

  1. VS - the bottle is close to the standard standard shape, but has a large size, the bottom is strongly concave.
  2. XO is a figured flattened shape, partly reminiscent of the contours of the curves of a guitar, with a solid three-dimensional ornament with the main glass mass, including the coat of arms of the winery - the design was specially developed for this drink, its exclusive versions are poured into containers made by hand by glassblowers.
  3. VSOP - the bottle is extremely unusual, the design is based on a standard shape, but simplified, elongated, and the bottom is “planted on a leg”, the highlighted thickening of the bottom forms a single whole with the bulk of the glass, on the bottle there is a three-dimensional image of the coat of arms of the winemaking house and the abbreviation.

Genuine bottle

Original bottles have an overall quality that makes counterfeit drinks not stand up to direct comparison. This is the weight of the glass container.

The original bottles seem fragile and elegant, but in fact they are made of thick, durable glass and have a decent mass.

While in the store, the weight is compared to any bottle of wine with the corresponding displacement. The original Hennessy is heavier at times.

There are no figure marks on the bottom of the bottles. If there is an engraving or a relief image on the glass, this is a fake. On the outside of the XO bottle, close to the bottom, the inscription "HENNESSY & C2 COGNAC FRANCE" is inscribed in large letters.

Pay attention to the bottom of the bottle: the pattern on it should be clear and as symmetrical as possible. In no case should there be a recess in the front part - this is a clear sign by which a fake can be distinguished.

Have you come across fake Hennessy cognac?

excise tax

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The original drink must have an excise stamp and cannot cost less than twenty to fifty dollars for 0.35 liters.

Excise tax is the brand that makes it difficult to study in detail the back label and the rim of the protective coating of the cork, and also spoils the appearance of the bottle. But the absence of an excise tax is a violation of the law, so there will be no bottles without excise stamps in any trustworthy store selling alcohol.

excise tax

The stamp must be glued evenly, no glue smudges are allowed on it. The font is easy to read and the appearance of the brand does not change when exposed to water. The excellent quality of the glue should also be noted - removing side excise taxes from a bottle intended as a gift is sometimes more difficult than “washing off” the original manufacturer's label.

Read also: checking the excise stamp for alcohol online


First of all, carefully examine the cork and the shell that covers the neck.

Lid of real Hennessy cognac and fakes

Real Hennessy cognac is corked with a cork, which is decorated with engraving and a hologram. The inscription on the hologram of the original is "Holosleeve".

In addition, the shell should fit as tightly as possible to the neck: if it moves, you are holding a fake in your hands. Cork - natural, dense. It does not crumble, does not deform, is elastic and tolerates repeated compression.


On the cork are:

  • the name of the winery;
  • coat of arms, which is also a logo;
  • information about the drink, including years of aging.

The cork cover is made of thin aluminium. Of course, if the bottle has a screw cap or the alcohol is sealed with plastic, this is a fake.

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Original Hennessy recommend to buy here

The label of the original product has differences, with the help of which it is quite easy to determine whether the counterfeit is presented in the store or not.

Examine the back label and label. They must be glued evenly and symmetrically relative to each other.

Deformations, traces of glue, blurry letters are a clear sign of a fake, and not of the highest quality.

For the labels of the original drink, special paper is used - it is slightly embossed and resembles banknotes.

Be sure to read all the information that is on the bottle. Spelling errors, incorrect spelling of the brand or place of production are a reason to refuse a purchase.

Hennessy label

Labels have the following features:

  1. Relief, noticeable only to the touch.
  2. Rough image of the coat of arms of the wine-making house.
  3. Accurate execution, allowing you to consider every detail.

Relief printing is expensive. As a rule, producers of "scorched" alcohol do not seek to spend money on an exact copy of the original label.


Original Hennessy recommend to buy here

The vast majority of Russians are accustomed to alcohol, poured into containers of half a liter. For this reason, few people pay attention to the volume of a bottle of 0.5 liters when purchasing elite alcohol. Rather, another volume of the drink causes suspicion.

Meanwhile, the French wine house does not produce drinks in the volume familiar to Russians. If there is half a liter in the bottle, it is fake.

Video: tasting fake Hennessy.

The table shows the characteristic features of the original Hennessy cognac:

Composition Tea, sugar, cloves and cognac spirits
Fortress Strictly 40%
The exception is the collection "Hennessy Ellipse" 43.5%
Package High quality thick cardboard
Bottle The upper front part is engraved in the form of a hand with a halberd - the emblem of the manufacturer
cork shell Fits snugly to the neck with no bubbles underneath
Excise stamp Guaranteed legal import of Hennessy cognac

Drink Features

Visual content check. Before making a purchase, it is useful to check Hennessy cognac for authenticity. Sediment at the bottom of the bottle is not allowed, and the contents themselves must be amber, let in the rays of light. Turn the bottle upside down and watch how the drops flow down - the original drink is a little oily, viscous in consistency, so the drops will flow slowly, as if reluctantly.

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There are many descriptions of the aroma and taste characteristics, the duration of the aftertaste and the presence of warmth in the throat. Sometimes the difference between them is so great that a person inexperienced in elite alcohol begins to suspect that he has acquired counterfeit products only because he does not feel the taste qualities that he read about.

Hennessy tasting

The sense of smell and taste buds are unique and subjective. Therefore, do not blindly trust the descriptions. You need to check not the aroma and taste, but other features that are evaluated objectively:

  • color;
  • consistency;
  • purity.

The older the cognac, the darker and brighter it is. As a rule, fakes are colored with caramel syrups or tea. Any bartender knows a simple way to distinguish such a drink from a real one. You need to pour alcohol into a glass, turn off the light and bring brandy to a lit candle. The original drink absorbs light, not scatters it. That is, a speck of light with clear edges will be visible through the glass. If the glass is completely translucent, it is fake.

Check Hennessy cognacs by barcode:

Enter 13 digits of the barcode:

Young cognac, aged less than six years, cannot be tested in this way. But its color is dark, it resembles a mixture of apple juice and red grapes. It doesn't look like tea or chocolate. Nor can it be too light, amber.

The consistency of cognac differs from the density of wines and other drinks. It is an oily and slightly viscous liquid. The older the alcohol, the more obvious these qualities.

Trying to achieve the desired color and consistency, counterfeit manufacturers use various syrups and dyes. However, it is impossible to imitate the properties of natural grape spirits. The purity of the drink will instantly give out its content. Counterfeit cognac is cloudy, sediment may appear in it, stratification of liquids may occur. In addition, syrups leave "rainbow" stains on the surface of the drink.

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How to distinguish different types of Hennessy from a fake

In addition to the general indicators of "fake", each type of Hennessy has its own characteristics. Knowing them, you can choose the original alcohol with a high probability.

Types of Hennessy

Hennessy VSOP This type of cognac is the result of blending 60 cognac spirits at once, the age of which can reach 15 years. It is because of this that the drink has a rich, balanced taste, in which honey, almonds, pear are clearly felt, and the aroma contains subtle floral-fruity tones and hints of hazelnut.

Hennessy VS It consists of cognac spirits aged for at least 2.5 years and no more than 10 years. Since its recipe was created back in 1860, this type of cognac is rightfully one of the most popular in the world. He has repeatedly won gold and silver medals at various international alcohol exhibitions. Its complex bouquet contains aromas of walnut, fresh pastries, almonds, caramel. On the palate, there is a pleasant bitterness of grape seed and vanilla.

Hennessy XO One of the most elite and good cognacs on the modern alcohol market. Its refinement is the result of blending over 100 distillates. Most of them have been aged for 20 to 30 years. The oldest cognac spirit in the blend matured for 90 years. This blend was created in 1870 and to this day enjoys incredible popularity. Its aroma is filled with chocolate, cardamom, pepper, oak shavings, cloves and dried fruits. The taste is dominated by tones of walnuts, fruits and various spices.

Hennessy Paradise. Just like the previous type, this cognac is made from 100 cognac spirits, which are very rare and have an aging of 15 to 100 years. The selection of the best old spirits for this type in 1979 was carried out by Maurice Fiyu - a representative of the sixth generation of the dynasty, whose members since the creation of the Hennessy company have held the position of assemblage masters. The bouquet of this blend reveals notes of dried fruits, cinnamon, candied fruits and honey. The taste is soft, with grape and almond tones.

Hennessy Paradise

Hennessy Richard. This species was created relatively recently, in 1991, by Jan Fiyu in honor of the founder, Richard Hennessy. Its peculiarity is cognac spirits, which were made in 1800 from Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc grapes. In addition to them, the blend includes more than 100 alcohols. In the aroma of this species, you can feel an admixture of citrus, spices, toffee and even tobacco, and the taste plays with berry and fruit notes, vanilla and honey.

How to distinguish real Hennessy cognac from counterfeit?

Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition. This species is produced in a limited edition. The blend includes young spirits aged from 3 to 6 years, but this does not prevent the drink from having an open rich aroma, which is dominated by floral shades, tones of grapefruit and grapes. The palate is replete with the sweetness of vanilla and almonds.

Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition

Hennessy Library. This special type was released as a kind of reminder of the manufacturer's attitude to his priceless product, as to jewelry and antiques. The assemblage contains 40 cognac spirits aged from 10 to 12 years. When tasting, the drink immediately reveals an admixture of vanilla, rye bread and nuts. On the palate, there is a clear presence of white chocolate, coffee and dried fruits.

Hennessy Library

Hennessy Futura VS Another exquisite limited edition. It got its name due to the fact that the famous American artist Futura was engaged in the design of this bottle. The blend of alcohol contains more than 40 types of cognac spirits. The aroma is full of flowers, grapes, walnuts and subtle notes of caramel.

Hennessy Futura V.S

Hennessy XO: how to distinguish a fake

Cognac Hennessy XO (extra old)

Most often, Hennessy XO (average aging is 20-30 years), VS (an analogue of the classic “three-star” drink of this house with an aging of three years or more) and VSOP (a drink of 60 cognac spirits fifteen years old) are faked. Let's take a closer look at these types.

  • First of all, pay attention to the volume of the bottle. - Hennessy XO - is produced in two versions: 0.35 and 0.7 liters each. Packs of 0.5 or 1 l are a clear sign of a fake.
  • Examine the cork and the top shell, which should have the brandy house name on it.
  • There may be no chips or cracks on the container.
  • The original container is wider at the base than the fake, and its sides are steep enough, so it looks "pot-bellied".
  • The glass should have a three-dimensional engraving - intertwined vines with leaves. The logo of the house is located under the sticker with the excerpt.
  • Under the counter-label there should also be an engraving - the name of the cognac house.
  • The strength (it is indicated both on the label and on the excise stamp) is 40%.
  • The taste should reveal chocolate, oak notes, tones of dried fruits, spices, black pepper should be felt. The aftertaste is long, with a flair of walnut, agave, and grapes.

Cognac Hennessy VSOP: how to distinguish a fake from the original

Cognac Hennessy VSOP

Many people prefer to buy -Hennessy VSOP - in containers that resemble a flask in shape. It is they who are most often faked, so a drink in classic round bottles is preferable.

The contents should be red-brown in color, with an amber tint. Thanks to a long exposure - Hennessy cognac - acquires a recognizable color. And fakes usually look like slightly diluted tea.

Here are a few more ways to distinguish an original drink from a fake:

  • Above the label there is a paper ring with the shutter speed.
  • The glass is engraved with a halberd hand and the letters VSOP. The engraving is above the sticker indicating the shutter speed.
  • The brand name is engraved on the bottom under the back label.
  • Fortress - 40% (this information is duplicated on the excise stamp and label).
  • The bouquet has tones of sandalwood, hazelnut, honey, almond, pear. The finish is long and round.

Hennessy VS: how to distinguish the original

Cognac Hennessy VS (very special)

  • To distinguish the original Hennessy VS, take a closer look at the thickness of the glass: containers for real cognac should have sufficiently thick walls and a bottom.
  • The film on the cork is aluminum, not cardboard or paper. It should fit snugly to the neck, not move or spin.
  • The inscription on the counter-label and the excise stamp must be in the same language.
  • Above the label there should be a sticker with the coat of arms of the cognac house. On the bottle itself there is a voluminous circle for it.
  • The “correct” capacity is of a characteristic pot-bellied shape.

But, even knowing the subtleties and nuances that characterize the original products, an inexperienced person who does not understand alcohol can acquire a “cunning fake”. That is, to buy an original bottle, which is filled not with Hennessy, but with cheap Caucasian cognac. Therefore, when purchasing elite alcohol, you need to visit only trustworthy stores and check the documentation confirming the origin of the alcohol.

Where do you usually buy alcoholic drinks?
In a general store
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In specialty liquor stores
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I don't buy, they give me
I order online
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Andrey Kozhevnikov

Blog author. 7 years of experience as a Merchandiser. Specialist in the definition of quality products. Distinguished more than 5,000 fake goods. My motto: there is no limit to perfection!

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  1. Maksim

    I have been buying this cognac for many years in a store that has been proven over the years and has never come across a fake. But I will definitely take note of this article. It won't be redundant!

  2. George Ioseliani

    As for cognac, taste is of great importance, because even Winston Churchill said that you can admire the cognac color, you can enjoy the cognac smell, but God forbid you drink cognac.

  3. Vadim Romanovich

    I have been using Hennessy since the mid-90s. Haven't come across fakes. I often brought it from foreign trips, buying it in DUTY FREE. You will not find a fake there, it is without options. Sometimes I buy this cognac in a reputable store of a reputable alcohol network. They only sell the original. In general, Hennessy did not come across fakes. But I read the article with curiosity, thanks.

  4. Andrey

    I wanted to surprise a friend for a holiday and I succeeded. For a long time I studied the detailed description about cognac and re-read it so as not to forget when buying, and this was beneficial. Cognac I bought a real friend was delighted.

  5. Ekaterina Alekseevna

    My husband drinks only Hennessy, well, I don’t drink much, we really like it, we always buy it in an elite alcohol store until we get a fake, but I read it first, I’ll definitely check it in the store for the sake of interest, nowadays when around so much deception your article is the very thing, thank you very much it was interesting.

  6. Valentine

    The most curious way to check cognac aged 6 years with a candle. My son is a bartender, he did not know this. And I didn't know before. I told him about it. Thanks.

  7. Nicholas

    Yes, here a real problem arises in order to determine real cognac from a fake, and it is very difficult to determine a fake from a real one. So many very high-quality fakes have gone that you can’t figure it out without a specialist.

  8. Nicholas

    Yes, now there are a lot of fakes, especially in wine products. And horses are forged in the first place, and your advice about the sediment in the bottle is very useful and many will use it.

  9. drunkard

    Guys, you rub that if the volume of the bottle is half a liter, then this is a fake, but at the same time you recommend buying cognac, giving a link to the store where this brandy is exactly POLLITRE!
    WTF?! O_o