KEEP ENJOYING THE MOMENT
By Kiat-Sing Teo
The London West Hollywood in Beverly Hills located on Sunset Boulevard, is perfect in so many ways. Its delicate intermingling of understated luxury basked in old-school nostalgia that the nearby likes of The Viper Room and Whiskey-A-Go-Go radiated. Almost immediately after I placed the hotel key card on the king-size bed for one, I decided that everything worth celebrating should be celebrated with well-blended cognac.
I was in LA because the Maison Hennessy, renowned as crafters of fine cognacs since 1765, was to officially announce Renaud Fillioux de Gironde as the 8th generation of the Hennessy Master Blenders, and some guests and a few writers were invited to observe the changing of the guard. There was also the promise that there would be a tasting of the exclusive and limited edition Hennessy 8; a creation of 7 eaux-de-vie selected by 7th generation Master Blender Yann Fillioux and a last, single eaux-de-vie selected by Renaud, blended together to signify the seamless transmission of family, heritage, craftsmanship, and the continuation of the quarter-century old Hennessy legacy.
In the hotel penthouse suite where the inauguration was to take place, the much-anticipated Hennessy 8 took center stage in a carafe of hand-blown Baccarat crystal designed by Arik Lévy, artist and long-time Hennessy collaborator. The newly designated Renaud lifted the room from a slightly self-conscious murmur and led the solemn ritual of uncorking a mini bottle of Hennessy 8, emptying its golden contents into a tulip glasses, and whirling the ambrosia. Everyone followed suit with the mini bottles that had been carefully laid out, proudly labeled “Hennessy 8”, and toasted to the occasion.
As expected, the experience of Hennessy 8 was not easily forgotten, even for a cognac-novice as myself (being more accustomed to sweet wines and cocktails). There was a significant whiff that rose shapely, as if to wake my senses into a heightened present. It was not the proof, because it was also stylish, smooth, and sophisticated. My new acquaintance, fellow writer Cook, and I exchanged looks of approval. Regarding the emptied mini bottles in the same way fans regard the ball used in a definitive game, we surreptitiously let these relics figure in our business totes.
Then, the suitably impressed party adjourned to lounge on shallow sofas on the rooftop terrace. Under a moonless sky, a Michelin-starred chef provided distraction with his toil over an open fire. He was much appreciated and yet, hardly so, because everything pairs well with the free-flow of Hennessy X.O. and Hennessy Paradiz Imperial coming from the bar.
“I think I’m reasonably good,” Yann had shared with a self-effacing laughter during our brief conversation earlier, when I managed to catch him alone, “but what is important is that Renaud will be able to make exceptional cognacs in the future, and also that the future generations after Renaud will be able to do that.” Renaud later echoed this sentiment in a separate dialogue, and added the caveat that it was necessary to “keep enjoying the moment”.
Keep enjoying the moment. Keep enjoying the moment.
I considered the ‘macaron, flavors of Hennessy’ that a chiseled-feature server had just offered. Kila was coming to pick me up the next day, and drive me along the strip where all the Hollywood greats and not-so-greats had driven too, before us. This was when I decided, in the reverse, that a well-blended cognac, or rather, a bit of Hennessy, makes everything worth celebrating.
Kiat-Sing Teo is an NY-based actor, writer and translator. She blogs at www.kiatsing.com.