It may not be established in the UK, but chances are you've unknowingly heard of it. Listen closely to Jay-Z's hits Drunk in Love and Part II (On the Run), and the Grammy-award winning rapper name drops his cognac, D'USSÉ. In the first song, he raps, "Hold up, that D'USSÉ is the [expletive] if I do say so myself," while in the second the lyric goes, "Chucking deuces, chugging D'USSÉ."
The chart-topper is on the road again with his wife Beyoncé, performing their joint world tour On the Run II, and wherever Jay goes, D'USSÉ follows. Their tour has attracted scores of celebrities, including the couple's good friend, former US First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia, who made a surprise appearance at the Paris show earlier this month. Fellow hitmaker Adele and footballers Neymar and Marcelo have attended the London and Barcelona concerts respectively, while Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke, Liv Tyler and Kelly Osbourne were also in the crowd in the UK.
Take a peek inside Chateau de Cognac where D'USSÉ is aged:
The lucky few – VIP friends and family – who are invited to Jay's tour hospitality lounge can sip on D'USSÉ cocktails or have the cognac neat, as Jay likes to. Throughout the world tour, there are two cocktails being served in the lounge: D'USSÉ Lemonade (a clear nod to Beyoncé) and The 13th, honouring Jay's thirteenth studio album, 4:44. Scroll down for the recipes.
Having a fine appreciation for French cognac, Jay launched D'USSÉ in 2012. He travelled to the quaint town of the same name in western France, to see how the drink is made in local distilleries before being transported to Château de Cognac, where the spirit is aged. Keen to be as involved in the journey as much as possible, Jay regularly teams up with cellar master Michel Casavecchia to help select each new blend. Nothing is signed off without Jay's approval.
Beyonce and Jay-Z perform on their world tour, On the Run II
HELLO! paid a visit to the royal castle, which dates back to the tenth century and has been ageing cognac for the past 200 years. The chateau is also home to the long-established Baron Otard cognac, but cellar master Michel explained just what makes D'USSÉ so different to other cognac brands – its versatility.
"Cognac has been around for centuries, but most of those brands and blends were developed in a way for cognac aficionados to drink it neat," said Michel. "The unique characteristic about D'USSÉ is that it was created in a way that people could enjoy it neat or as part of a cocktail. We take pride in the fact that D'USSÉ is versatile and perfect for several, different occasions, which is why the brand has become very popular since its launch in 2012."
Jay has rapped about D'USSÉ in his songs
During our visit, we were treated to an exclusive and extensive tour of the chateau, going down into the cellars to see how barrel after barrel of cognac is stored and aged. The different blends, from the XO (Extra Old) to the VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), are aged in different rooms at varying temperatures. Visitors to the castle, which is a two-hour drive away from Bordeaux, can take guided tours and have a similar experience, ending with a tasting in the shop.
With backing from the king of rap, it's no wonder that D'USSÉ, which has partnered with Bacardi Limited, is going from strength to strength in the US. The six-year-old business is just another achievement for the American record producer and songwriter. While D'USSÉ is currently not available in the UK, there are always plans to expand and capture foreign markets as the brand has done so Stateside.
The spirit is aged in the quaint town of Cognac
When asked when to expect a UK launch, cellar master Michel said: "We're always evaluating our options for international expansion and we will certainly make that move at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we're very pleased with D'USSÉ's tremendous growth in the United States over the last six years. Even though D'USSÉ is a relatively young brand, the brand is transforming the domestic spirits industry at a rapid rate and ultimately setting a new standard for cognac."
Cheers to that! Inspired to make a D'USSÉ cocktail at home? Check out the On the Run II recipes below.
VIP guests can enjoy D'USSÉ cocktails in the hospitality lounge
The 13th (Honouring Jay-Z's 13th Studio Album, 4:44)
- 2 OZ D'USSÉ VSOP COGNAC
- 1 OZ line juice
- 0.5 OZ simple syrup
- 2 OZ ginger beer or ginger ale
Method: Shake all ingredients (minus ginger beer or ginger ale) and then top with ginger beer or ginger ale.
- 2 oz D'USSÉ VSOP Cognac
- 6 oz Simply Lemonade
Method: Build in glass with ice.