Leading cognac house Hennessy and renowned painter Zhang Enli welcome Chinese New Year with poetry, optimism and vitality
Since it was founded more than 250 years ago by Richard Hennessy, an Irishman and former officer in the army of Louis XV, the Maison Hennessy has prided itself on its exceptional know-how and artistry in crafting extraordinary spirits to be enjoyed during life’s most meaningful moments. To welcome the Year of the Tiger, the leading cognac house is taking that artistry one step further by collaborating with renowned contemporary painter Zhang Enli on a vibrant original artwork and limited-edition bottles.
Based in Shanghai, Zhang Enli is known for working with everyday objects and magnifying them into unique, dreamlike compositions that mirror the world around us and reflect his love of nature. His expressive lines and curves, muted tones and loose washes – informed by traditional Chinese ink paintings – distil the essence of his subjects with a singular and visionary artistic language.
For Poetry and Wine Welcome the Tiger, Zhang Enli visited Hennessy’s historic seat in Cognac and took inspiration from the beautiful Charente River that has been peacefully flowing through it for centuries. He used the river and the maison’s eaux-de-vie as a metaphor for transformation and the passage of time – just as every drop of water in the continuous and ever-evolving river is unique, so too is the fruit of each Hennessy harvest – to create a modern interpretation of a key figure in ancestral Chinese culture, the water tiger.
Coming after a time of challenge and loss, the tiger represents hope and augurs renewed energy and vitality. This is reflected in Zhang Enli’s bold, modern and creative vision for Poetry and Wine Welcome the Tiger, which conjures the majestic animal – an ancestral symbol of power, success and confidence – with dynamic lines and vibrant colour.
The magnificent piece portrays the tiger emanating from the water, with tones of amber symbolising its brave and empowering spirit as well as echoing the depths of Hennessy’s blends. The warm yellow of his coat symbolises fertility as spring is celebrated in conviviality, opening to a beautiful new year. Touches of red, meanwhile, call to mind the festive atmosphere of Chinese New Year, and a pictograph reminiscent of the Chinese character wang, symbolising “emperor” or “sovereign” appears on the tiger’s forehead.
“While this painting may be different from traditional tiger-themed paintings, my hope is that people will intuitively recall the animal’s beauty and vitality,” the artist says. “Poetry and Wine Welcome the Tiger is about spirit and sense over appearances; about the force of transformation, even in the tiniest details.”
In addition to celebrating the optimism and vitality of the Lunar New Year, Zhang Enli’s artwork has inspired special editions of Hennessy X.O and Hennessy V.S.O.P as well as a collector’s edition of Hennessy Paradis. The latter, produced in collaboration with the French heritage house Bernardaud and hand-decorated in the porcelain maker’s atelier in Limoges, exists in a limited, numbered edition of only 555 one-litre carafes. It is presented in a beautifully crafted wooden box that is intended to enjoy a second life as a decorative object in the home.
The Hennessy X.O New Year 2022 Limited Edition comes in its classic curved bottle with an elegant yellow, red and gold palette channelling empowerment and refinement. Crystalline amber tones recall the depth of Hennessy X.O – a blend of 100 eaux-de-vie with a powerful and balanced structure that brings out a great roundness through time – while the vivid red symbolises celebration and prosperity. The limited-edition gift box also comes with red packets to share precious moments with your loved ones.
For Hennessy V.S.O.P, the expression of the transmission of the know-how of eight generations of Master Blenders, the maison has created a New Year 2022 Limited Edition with a red and yellow curved bottle paired with a limited-edition gift box that incorporates the vigour and vitality of the tiger into the overall design. The highly characterful cognac reveals balanced aromas of fresh vanilla, cinnamon and toasty notes, all coming together with seamless perfection.
In fact, there’s no better way to welcome the Year of the Water Tiger than to enjoy the evocative beauty of Zhang Enli’s artwork and the incomparable taste of Hennessy’s eaux-de-vie with loved ones and your favourite traditional Chinese dishes.
CREDITS Photography / Max Chan Set design / Emily Ho Manicurist / Chesney Lau Gaffer / Fei Lung Grips / Tom Tong and Sammy Lo