Truth is often much harder to explain than fiction. If you were writing a work of fiction and coming up with a signature liquor with a story like the one D’USSÉ has it might be a tough sell.
First, you start with wine made with a specific set of grapes in a specific part of the world. Is it good wine? Not especially. Then you take the wine and distill it so it turns into potent alcohol.
Then you can start enjoying it, right? No, then you have to let it sit in oak barrels for many years. After those years the people in the region who made it are probably really excited to drink it.
No, the people in that region export almost all of it to other countries. Is it put in stuffy-looking bottles that you would expect to put distilled wine in?
No, the bottle is very sleek and hip-looking and is often enjoyed by crowds who also enjoy hip-hop music. Is it also likely to be enjoyed by your grandparents? Yes indeed.
D’USSÉ is complex and mysterious. It’s known as much for its ties to a cellar master as it is to one of the most famous hip-hop artists of all time. You can’t make a story like this up.
A Brief History of D’USSÉ
D’USSÉ launched in 2012 making it a recent entry into the world of spirits. In many ways, it has been in the works for much more than ten years, more like hundreds of years.
D’USSÉ is made in the famed Château de Cognac in Cognac, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France which has been churning out fine Cognacs for 200 years. Michael Casavecchia, the celebrated cellar master of the above-mentioned Château de Cognac created D’USSÉ.
He made his name by creating bold cognac blends in the Château de Cognac cellars, and D’USSÉ is his bold vision realized.
That all sounds very exciting and fancy but what is cognac? Cognac is a type of brandy. So what is brandy? Brandy is a type of alcohol produced by distilling wine. The cognac to brandy relationship is the same as the relationship Champagne has to wine.
Champagne is a type of wine from a specific region in France, and cognac is a type of brandy from a specific region in France called the Cognac region.
So if cognac is distilled wine does that mean you can just put any old wine through the distillation process and come out the other side with a delectable cognac-like D’USSÉ? Nope, there is a tried and true method for making cognac and it actually starts with wine made specifically for brandy and cognac production.
This wine is made from predominantly Ugni Blanc grapes. After the grapes are pressed and given time to ferment then they are distilled twice using copper stills. The liquid that emerges from the distillation process is called the eau de vie. Eau de vie translates to water of life. Isn’t that fun?
From there the eau de vie needs to take a rest for multiple years in oak barrels – a minimum of two years. Once the eau de vie has finished aging it is blended with eau de vie from a range of ages and possibly localities.
Once blended it is given a grade or designation based on age (VSOP, XO, XXO) and bottled.
D’USSÉ continues to be made at the Château de Cognac and is owned by Bacardi and Shawn Carter, otherwise known as the famous rapper Jay-Z.
D’USSÉ Prices, Variations & Sizes
D’USSÉ is different from many spirit brands in that they only have two varieties. The first, and most common, variety is the VSOP.
Even though it is the flagship D’USSÉ cognac it is anything but common. VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale and denotes that the eau de vie used in the blend is aged for at least four years. D’USSÉ VSOP is aged for at least four and a half years.
- D’USSÉ VSOP, 40 percent alcohol by volume, is available in three different bottle sizes.
- 200 ml, From $16.99
- 375 ml, From $27.99
- 750 ml, From $49.99
The second and final variety of D’USSÉ cognac is D’USSÉ XO. XO stands for Extra Old and designates that the youngest eau de vie used is aged for at least ten years.
D’USSÉ XO is much more rare and expensive than D’USSÉ VSOP. The extra time aging gives D’USSÉ XO a very complex flavor profile.
- D’USSÉ XO, 40 percent alcohol by volume, is available in just one sized bottle.
- 750 ml, From $199.99
D’USSÉ Alternatives and Comparisons
It’s hard to replace the bold yet smooth taste of D’USSÉ cognac but there are options if you find yourself without access to a bottle of D’USSÉ.
If you want to stay in the Bacardi portfolio, and even get a cognac made at the Château de Cognac look no further than Baron Otard Cognac. Be forewarned that Baron Otard is rarer and more expensive than D’USSÉ.
Your best bet if you need a quality cognac in a pinch is going to be Hennessy, Rémy Martin, or Courvoisier. Hennessy has a wide range of cognac offerings and is the top-selling cognac in the world.
A bottle of Hennessy VS will be in line with D’USSÉ VSOP price-wise and Hennessy VSOP will be a bit higher. Rémy Martin and Courvoisier also offer a range of cognacs including a VSOP and XO that line up with D’USSÉ in terms of price and quality.
How to Drink D’USSÉ
D’USSÉ, and quality cognac in general, is made to be consumed neat and at room temperature. Purists will also allow for a drop of water to be added to the cognac to open up the aroma a bit. If straight cognac at room temperature isn’t your thing you can drink it on the rocks or mixed in a cocktail – we won’t tell the cognac snobs.
D’USSÉ should be stored upright in a cellar or a dark cool space before opening. Once opened you should try to consume it within six months before the flavors start to fade.
FAQ – D’USSÉ
What kind of alcohol is D’USSÉ?
D’USSÉ is cognac which is a type of brandy. Brandy is distilled wine from specific regions of France known as the Cognac region.
Is there a cognac shortage?
You should not have any trouble finding D’USSÉ although there have been some instances in recent years where cognac has been less available depending on where you live.
This is attributed to many things including increased popularity of cognac, popularity in Asian countries, and supply chain issues for many imported products.
What do you mix D’USSÉ with?
While most often enjoyed neat, D’USSÉ can enhance any cocktail. Here are some great ones:
2 Parts D’USSÉ VSOP Cognac
1 Part Orange Liqueur
½ Part Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Lemon Peel
Sugar (for the rim of the glass)
Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well, strain, and add to a sugar-rimmed glass.
¾ ounces D’USSÉ Cognac
¾ ounces Rye Whiskey
¾ ounces Sweet Vermouth
4 dashes Aromatic Bitters
2 tsp Bénédictine Liqueur
Mix the D’USSÉ, Rye Whiskey, and Sweet Vermouth. Stir in the Bénédictine Liqueur and Aromatic Bitters. Serve chilled or over ice, and garnish with citrus and a cherry.
2 ounces D’USSÉ Cognac
¼ ounces Demerara Syrup
1 dash Orange Bitters
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 Lemon for Garnish
Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, strain into a rocks glass field with ice, and garnish with a lemon peel.
Is D’USSÉ gluten free?
Yes D’USSÉ and most cognacs are considered gluten free. Cognac is a distilled spirit and even if a distilled spirit starts with gluten the distillation process removes the gluten. In the case of cognac, this is not a concern. Live it up those of you who avoid gluten.
Is D’USSÉ vegan?
Yes, D’USSÉ and most cognacs and brandies are vegan. This may sound like a silly question but many people don’t know that most wine is not considered vegan.
This is because the majority of wine goes through a process called clarification which uses animal products to make the wine less cloudy.