Tuesday night. I’m in the Four Seasons sipping Hennessy XO. So far, so normal. These are two luxury dreadnoughts that really aren’t messing around: the former opened in 1970 in London, and is now owned by low-rent paupers Bill Gates and Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal; the latter has 253 years of sky-high Cognac quality under its belt, deigning to allow minnows like Moët et Chandon and Louis Vuitton into the fold. Crash them together and you experience indulgence exponentially, accelerating past your elastic limit towards an event horizon of hedonistic nirvana.
That’s the plan for Tuesday night, anyway. That, and to check out the new Hennessy Paradis Imperial private dining room at the Four Seasons on Park Lane. Six to ten guests can book a paired tasting that takes them through the complex flavours in Hennessy’s eaux-de-vie, blended to create Paradis Imperial, very much the apex predator of cognac.
To conjure this dark magic, the master blenders take 20-year-old eau-de-vie, unstructured and flighty, and impound it in an old barrel. After 30 more wood-bound years it gets to what the blenders call ‘the point of elegance’, after which it’s ready to be blended using an impossibly elitist selection process. The finished product packs age and heft, but with the finesse and dexterity of a much younger model.
Executive Chef Romuald Feger takes us on a journey through muscular lobster tail, roasted turbot and venison loin; we scoff in a room that feels like being inside the presentation case of a luxury spirit, all polished surfaces and recessed decanters glimmering in the walls. We started with Hennessy XO over ice so it feels appropriate to finish with Hennessy XO ice cream, melting nonchalantly on a soft sponge cake. Naughty but terribly nice.
But there’s a reason Kim Jong-Il blew $700,000 in a single year on Paradis, and try as we might, we have to respect the room and return to Imperial as far as our constitutions allow. We arrived through a private entrance, and the private exit feels appropriate: even for the Four Seasons, this is some horizon-broadening luxury. I don’t know when I’ll next have the chance to sample Paradis, or to stay at the Four Seasons; both at once really is one for the scrapbook.
The Hennessy Experience Room is open for private bookings from 22nd February until 27th April 2018. The space can be booked for groups of six to a maximum ten guests at any one time, priced at £270 per person. Bookings can be made through The Four Seasons London at Park Lane on: 020 7499 0888. All bookings are subject to availability.
For more information about Hennessy Cognac, including the exquisite Paradis Imperial, visit www.hennessy.com.