D'ussé VSOP

$$$ — 40% ABV — 4½ years

This is one of the woodiest Congacs on the market, and a big favorite of rap artists Jay-Z and Lil Wayne. D'ussé is a very wood-forward Cognac and strikingly close in style to many American Bourbons, with powerful oaky and vanilla flavors.

The brand is a somewhat recent product from Otard, and is emblazoned with the French cross of Lorraine. The secret to the complexity of D'ussé is that Otard make (essentially) two different spirits in two very different limestone cellars: one is situated above-ground in the Otard Chateau de Cognac; the other is below-ground, naturally humidified by its close proximity to the Charente River.

Whiskey fans will note this doesn't sound tremendously different from the multi-tiered rickhouses used in limestone-rich Kentucky. And when Otard boasts using tighter and milder Tronçais wood, with a "custom medium-high toasting," the similarities become even more pronounced.

But for Wisconsinites, there's really only one question to ask, and the answer is resoundingly yes: a D'ussé Old Fashioned can make a convert out of anybody. Beyond those Bourbon-like flavors, this spirit has some exceptional fruity and earthy notes, all covered in a wide blanket of cinnamon. It's a rare Cognac that reigns in brandy's sugary flavor in such a pleasant way.

A note: D'ussé can vary in price quite a lot. If you can, try to find it somewhere near $50.

Otard is located in Cognac, Poitou-Charentes in southwestern France. Established in 1795 by Jean-Baptiste Otard, it is now owned by Bacardi Limited.

FLAVOR NOTES

Oak, vanilla, plum, red grape, thyme, cinnamon