Since launching the brand in 2012, D’USSÉ has experienced continued growth in both categories VSOP and XO. As the first Global Brand Ambassador, Sullivan Doh will be tasked with continuing the brand’s growth trajectory by raising visibility through key trade and consumer programming.
Sullivan Doh received a bachelor’s degree in Catering Management at Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise Gregoire Ferrandi in Paris, before contributing to bar programs of some of the best food and drink institutions around the world in cities such as London, Sydney, and Paris. Prior to his new role with D’USSÉ, Doh co-founded and managed Le Syndicat Paris – the first cocktail bar in Paris to use only French alcohol to promote and showcase the diversity the country has to offer. Most recently, Doh was part owner and bar manager of La Commune Paris, the first cocktail bar in France to focus on Punch cocktails, using French spirits only. Both establishments have earned recognition among lists of worldwide best cocktail bars.
Ahead of the launch of the D’usse XO in Lagos, on March 31, 2019, we had a conversation with him about the brand and leaving its mark in the Nigerian bar industry.
What drew you to the world of Spirits, particularly ‘Cognac’?
Basically, I worked in the hospitality for about 13 years and 10 years ago, I was in London and that’s when I discovered cognac. After that moment, I came back to Paris and I started my role as a bartender and cognac was the first product that I ever had in terms of alcohol. Cognac is the first spirit that I drank and I enjoyed and since then I have been bartending in France, in Australia, back in France and opened two bars.
Why do you see Cognac as the best kind of Spirit to come out of France?
It is the Spirit master. I mean, the process of elaboration of cognac is one of the most sophisticated we can have in France. It is super complex because there are too many variables all the way to have a perfect product at the end. You need to have a great soil at the beginning to grow great grapes, you need to have a good knowledge on how to make the wine from those grapes, then you need to have a good knowledge on how to distill the wine, and from there, you need to know how to edge the spirit, then you need to know how to blend it together to have one final product. So, this is the art of making cognac and with regard to all these steps, I do believe this is one of the greatest if not the greatest French alcohol.
Can you give us a brief history of D’usse?
D’usse is a brand that was created about 7 years ago in the Chateau de Cognac which has been making cognac for more than 200 years. Michel Casavecchia, the cellar master that created Cognac D’usse has been working in the Chateau de Cognac for over 30 years, so he has a distinctive knowledge in cognac making. D’usse is a young brand but with a big background. We have two cellars: one that is humid above like 98% of humidity, and so the odour of the spirit edges differently from one cellar to the other and then Michel created a blend with those two cellars to create the unique identity that is D’usse.
In Africa, Nigeria happens to be the country with the largest consumers of alcohol but that has more to do with champagne and beer in particular. So, how do you plan on making cognac D’usse a major part of that statistic?
We are not competing against champagne and beer because those are two different types of alcohol but from what I know, cognac, in terms of distilled spirits, is one of the main alcohols consumed in Nigeria. The idea now, is how to make D’usse one of the top cognacs. The way D’usse is made, it is either enjoyable by itself or on cocktails and that’s actually my part as a brand ambassador – to promote Cognac D’usse in a different way of consuming, to make people realize that this Cognac is completely mixable and shines beautifully in cocktails. So, we’re looking to doing cocktails with cognac, especially with Cognac D’usse.
What makes it stand out from other brands of Cognac?
If you do a tasting of D’usse, you will understand that it steps out from all the other cognacs because of its intensity. You know, we choose to make a VSOP which stays for four years minimum and when we do the blend after four years, we let it rest for like six months. This is something that the other houses don’t do; we let it rest to give it a concentration of flavors, like a homogenization. For me, D’usse is perfect.
Can you highlight some key strategies you have in your plans to market the drink in Nigeria?
I would say that the bar industry should educate people because they are the ambassadors. If people get to know what D’usse is, they will know how to serve it and how to talk about it to their customers. For me, education is the key. Telling people what cognac is, how to drink and enjoy it, is the best way to get more people to consume it, drinking responsibly too. Education is the key basically for everything.
You once mentioned that Cognac plays a huge role behind the bar; why do you think that role is essential?
Well, Cognac has been in the cocktail industry for over 100 years. As far back as the year 1860, you could already find some cocktails made with cognac. So, cognac has always been active behind the bar. We had a moment in France and Turkey especially when cognac took the place of a digestive after-dinner drink and today, we want to give it back where it belongs; it can be digestive, it can be before dinner and it can also be in cocktail. So, I do believe that cognac has played its part behind bars.
Here in Nigeria and in some other parts of the world, the general perspective is that men consume more spirits than women. Genevieve Magazine is a female-based magazine and we would like to know: how does D’usse position itself to appeal to both genders?
Once again, I guess this is a strategy when it comes to cocktail, we need to understand what people like to drink. Sometime ago, for example, I was doing a guest shift and I prepared three cocktails for the night but at the end when people were coming, I was like: What do you want? How do you like your drink? Do you like something sweet or spicy? Basically, creating drinks that fit into different pallets. So, if a lady comes and says she wants something super sweet, I would make something super sweet that which she would like and then she will enjoy D’usse. And, if she comes and says “I want something super strong”, I will do that as well. It’s just like adapting and showing how D’usse is really versatile and can be mixed in different ways that can please everybody. I mean, I can promise you that anybody on this planet that has not been drinking cognac, I can make him a cocktail with D’usse and they will like it.
Let’s talk about the cross on the bottle; is there a symbolism behind it and if there is, what does it mean and how does it relate to your brand?
So, this is what we call this is the La Croix de Lorraine; the Lorraine Cross. It has a long history in the French culture; in about 1940 or 1945, General Charles de Gaulle took this cross as a symbol of the resistance and a stand for honour, perseverance and courage. It’s like being part of the revolution, like taking over because we have the courage for creating a young brand, perseverance because we need to hustle to be part of the top because that’s where we want to go, and that’s where we are going and we have the honour of having the whole history of Chateau de Cognac that has been creating Cognac since 1795. We need to shake the world of Cognac and to impose this new amazing product.