Grind Time: D’Usse makes Hawaii debut
BY JASON GENEGABUS / firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s a tried-and-true recipe for success in the liquor industry when introducing a new brand: Sign up the biggest name in hip-hop you can find, get them to name drop in a few songs and provide plenty of product placement when it comes time to filming music videos.
And that’s exactly what spirits giant Bacardi USA did in 2012 when they got into the brandy game with a new line of cognac called D’Usse (pronounced “dew-say”). An endorsement deal was struck with rap superstar Jay-Z, who was seen drinking the stuff out of a Grammy Award he won in 2013 and mentions the liquor on Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” and Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie” the same year. Lil Wayne even released a track named after the cognac.
D’Usse is produced for Bacardi by the Chateau de Cognac (also known as Baron Otard), which has operated in France’s Cognac region since 1795. Distillate is stored in French oak casks and placed in dual limestone cellars with walls nearly 10 feet thick and allow for both dry and humid conditions. Cellars built near the River Charente maintain a relative humidity of nearly 90 percent at a constant 59 degrees year-round. Further up from the shoreline, humidity levels in the cellars drop significantly. As casks are rotated through the cellars during the aging process, they pick up a “distinctive taste that is complex and bold with a remarkably smooth finish.”
Those who drink a lot of brown spirits may turn their noses up at the use of the word “smooth” to describe it, but there’s still plenty of complexity in D’Usse. As a VSOP (very superior old pale) cognac, it’s at least four and a half years old, although some older juice is included in the blend to achieve the desired flavor profile.
During a VIP tasting at The Study in the Modern Honolulu last week, numerous guests remarked how easy to drink D’Usse is compared to other cognacs sold at local bars. Whiskey and Scotch fans will appreciate the toasted wood and spice notes on the nose, which give way to more oak flavors complemented by a nice bit of sweetness. Those who typically find cognac to be too aggressive on the palate will be pleasantly surprised how approachable this stuff is neat — and even more intriguing when mixed into cocktails.
The official D’Usse website suggests variations of a number of classic drinks, like the Manhattan, Sidecar and French 75. There’s even a recipe for The Code, a cocktail co-signed by Jay-Z that also includes Amaretto liqueur, pineapple juice and bitters, which People magazine described as “the rapper’s go-to cocktail when he relaxes after a gig.”
D’Usse VSOP is currently available for purchase at all Times Supermarkets and Don Quijote locations on Oahu at a retail price of approximately $45. No word if Hawaii will see bottles of the cognac’s 10-year-old expression, D’Usse XO, which made its U.S. debut in May and retails for more than $200 per bottle.
“Grind Time” is always looking for the latest places to get your grub on. Email Jason Genegabus with restaurant, bar or any other food/drink-related item at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.