What is D'Ussé? The VSOP & XO Cognac Explained

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 2, 2023

Our guide to buying and drinking D'Ussé Cognac.
What is D'Ussé Cognac

D'Ussé Cognac is a Cognac brand first released in 2012 and is available in two expressions - D'Ussé VSOP and D'Ussé XO. The VSOP is aged for more than four and a half years and the XO version matures for more than ten years. Both bottles feature a beautifully carved cross of Lorraine on the front and have an alcohol content of 40%.

The modern Cognac brand quickly became famous, not least to its co-founder, Jay-Z. Celebrity spirit releases are often over-priced for what you get. However, D'Ussé is different and a serious contender in the market. The brand is exceptionally successful, outperforming other products in the industry by more than 30%.

D'Ussé produces its Cognac in Château de Cognac, one of the oldest Cognac houses in France. The experience of the cellar masters paired with fresh ideas, make D'Ussé a refreshing brand on the Cognac market.

What is D'Ussé?

D'Ussé is a premium Cognac brand produced in the prestigious Château du Cognac, one of the oldest Cognac houses in France. It is available in two expressions (VSOP & XO), which have an alcohol content of 40%. 

D'ussé was originally envisioned by the longest-serving cellar master Michel Casavecchia and launched by Sovereign Brands but was acquired by Jay-Z and the Bacardi Group

On each bottle, you can find a Cross of Lorraine, an emblem of the Lorraine region, but in France, it is also a symbol of hope and victory.

D'Ussé Cognac VSOP matures for a minimun of four and a half years in the cellars of the Château. The result is a versatile and delicate Cognac with notes of citrus, dried fruits, caramel, and honey.

D'Ussé XO ages for over ten years in oak barrels. During this time, the Cognac develops a rich and sweet flavor profile with blackberry, chocolate, and walnut flavors.

Quick Facts

  • Produced by: Bacardi
  • Produced at: Château du Cognac
  • Origin: Cognac, France
  • Released: 2012
  • ABV: 40% (80 proof)
  • Price: $60 - $150
  • Color: Copper, brown, dark orange 
  • Best serve: Neat or chilled

Who owns D'Ussé Cognac?

Sovereign Brands, a family-owned wine & spirits company from New York, brought d'Ussé Cognac to life but quickly sold the brand to Bacardi and Jay-Z in 2012. The famous rapper and the spirits industry giant both held 50% of the shares.

In 2023, after a long dispute between the two parties, Bacardi increased its share to 75,1% by buying 25.1% from Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z. According to Bloomberg, Bacardi paid $750 million for this, leaving Jay-Z with a significant share in the brand of 24,9%.

How to Drink Cognac D'Ussé?

Cognac D'Ussé is a versatile spirit that works excellently in mixed drinks and cocktails. However, you can also enjoy it on its own, either neat or on the rocks. Preferably, you want to use the VSOP expression in cocktails and save the expensive D'Ussé XO for drinking neat.

Cognac D'Ussé vs. Hennessy vs. Rémy Martin

The main differences between D'Ussé and brands like Hennessy and Rémy Martin are the eau-de-vie used to make the products and the product ranges. Brands like Hennessy and Rémy Martin exist for much longer and offer a broader spectrum of products in comparison to D'Ussé. 

For example, they have a much lower entry point as they produce VS options that are much more affordable than the cheapest D'Ussé Cognac, which sells for $60.

Cognac D'Ussé is one of the fastest-growing Cognac brands in the market, consistently outperforming the average growth of Cognac products in the US by 30%. It's also much smoother than the entry-level products of Rémy Martin and Hennessy. However, only looking at VSOP classified Cognac, all brands are on a similar level.

Cognac D'Ussé, Hennessy, and Rémy Martin are three of the leading Cognac brands worldwide and in the US. Each has a loyal fanbase, some fantastic products, and distinct strengths. Let's look at how they compare: 

D'Ussé Hennessy Rémy Martin
Founded 2012 1765 1724
Number of expressions 2 10 + limited editions 5 + 2 limited editions
Classifications VSOP, XO VS, VSOP, XO, XXO VS, VSOP, XO
Price range $60 - $210 $50 - $12,000 $35 - $30,000
Produced at Cognac, France Cognac, France Merpins, France

D'Ussé VSOP

Produced in the Château de Cognac, this Cognac matures for at least four and a half years. The result is a naturally aged, potent, and full-bodied Cognac with hints of sweetness and fruity flavors.

D'Ussé Cognac VSOP review

D'Ussé Cognac VSOP bottle
  • ABV: 40% 
  • Bottle size: 750ml 
  • Taste: Citrus, dried fruit, cinnamon, and apple 
  • Price: $60

Color: Light copper-golden color

Nose: The nose of this Cognac is sweet, floral, and full of fruity notes. Citrus fruit, apple, and cinnamon mingle with a hint of honey and caramel.

Taste: On the palate, you get nutty notes from almonds, dried fruits, more sweetness, and oaky spiciness. You can feel the smooth texture of this Brandy on your tongue. It's an elegant and very soft Cognac that's also a good pick for Cognac beginners.

In cocktails: It's excellent in almost every Cognac-based cocktail we tried. The subtle sweetness and lightness paired with fruity flavors made it great in simple drinks like a Stinger. However, it also works in more complex drinks like the Between the Sheets cocktail.

Overall: This Cognac is a smooth, velvety, and easy-to-drink spirit with subtle sweet and floral notes. The finish has a slightly alcoholic bite to it, followed by a fruity aftertaste and slight notes of oak. I would not call it top shelf, either. But it is good value for money.

D'Ussé XO

The Eaux de Vie used to make D'Ussé XO ages for a minimum of 10 years in French oak barrels. The extended aging process and the oak wood give it a beautiful complexity, where fruity notes of apricots and blackberries mix with hints of dark chocolate and nuts. D'Ussé Cognac XO is best enjoyed neat or over ice.

D'Ussé Cognac XO review

D'Ussé Cognac XO black bottle
  • ABV: 40% 
  • Bottle size: 750ml 
  • Taste: Blackberry, apricot, dark chocolate, and walnut 
  • Price: $150

Color: Dark copper

Nose: Spirited and aromatic. Woody and spicy notes of cinnamon and cloves mingle with fruity aromas.

Taste: On the palate, the flavor notes meld into mocha and chocolate. In the background, you can also taste hints of toffee and tropical flavors like coconut and banana.

In cocktails: The mellow and rich flavors are best enjoyed when sipping it on its own. In cocktails, it can work great, like in a sidecar made with Grand Marnier. In other recipes, it felt like a waste to me. Especially in a Stinger and French Connection, the other ingredients took over and masked the delicate flavors.

Overall: Compared to the standard VSOP, the D'Ussé XO is on another level. It's a fantastic long-aged, full-bodied Cognac with a lot of character.

Compared to the VSOP expression, the XO is less fruit-forward and focuses on sweet and chocolatey aromas and flavors. But having said that, subtle exotic fruits make this Cognac special and give it a unique touch. Something that the VSOP variant is lacking.

Cognac D'Ussé XO vs VSOP

D'Ussé Cognac is currently available as VSOP and XO. The VSOP version matured for four and a half years, comes in a transparent bottle with a brass-colored cross, and is predominantly used in cocktails. On the other hand, the XO expression matures for ten years, comes in a shiny black bottle, and is best served neat or on the rocks. Here's how they compare:

Comparison D'Ussé VSOP vs. XO
  • Bottle: D'Ussé VSOP comes in a transparent glass bottle with a copper-colored cross of Lorraine. The XO expression comes in a sleek black-colored bottle with a shiny silver version of the cross.
  • ABV: Both bottles contain 40% of alcohol or 80 proof.
  • Aging: D'Ussé XO ages for a significantly longer time, and matures 10 years in oak barrels, whereas the VSOP version only matures for precisely four and a half years.
  • Taste: Both Cognac are of excellent quality, but you can easily taste the difference. The XO version is much softer, warmer, and sweeter, with more wooden notes. In contrast, the VSOP is fresher, lighter, with more fruity flavors.
  • Price: Both products are of exceptional quality. However, the VSOP only costs about a third of the XO release. Therefore, in terms of value for money, the VSOP is the clear winner.
  • Best serve: The best way to enjoy the mellow and rich flavors of the XO expression is neat at room temperature. The VSOP expression is best on ice or as an ingredient in cocktails.

Conclusion: D'Ussé XO and VSOP are two very different Cognacs. If you're looking for an aged spirit to sip neat, choose the XO. If you're looking for something fresher and lighter that can be used in cocktails, the VSOP is the better choice.

Use of D'Ussé Cognac in cocktails

D'Ussé works great in cocktail recipes that ask for Cognac. I recommend choosing the VSOP for making drinks as it pairs better with other ingredients and is more affordable. Try it in cocktails like:

If you need more inspiration, why not try it in other Cognac or brandy cocktails?

FAQs

Final Verdict

D'Ussé is an excellent Cognac brand produced in one of the oldest Cognac houses in France. Both expressions, the VSOP and XO are great value for money and address very different price segments.

For sipping neat, D'Usse XO is far superior with its rich, sweet, and mellow flavor profile. In cocktails, D'Ussé VSOP is the better choice. If you're new to Cognac in general, I recommend trying the VSOP first. It's smooth and offers better value for money and is a great entry-level Cognac. 

If you're a seasoned Cognac and Brandy drinker, the XO expression likely is the better choice. It's more complex and overall more challenging for your palate.

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