Armagnac

Review: Janneau 1983 Grand Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
30 Years
Recipe
Distilled from 40% Baco Blanc, 20% Folle Blanche, and 40% Ugni blanc
Distiller Janneau (Condom, France)

Janneau is a bit different than many Armagnac producers - rather than the typical traditional single column distillation to about 52%, Janneau has copper pot stills and distills its spirit twice. It is presented similarly to a whisky (and at a decent strength of 43%) - the website might even be mistaken for a scotch whisky website. The distillery itself is in the region of Teneraze, typically known for more robust and less elegant and light armagnacs - but Janneau blends distilled wines from all regions of Armagnac to craft their spirit. Janneau was founded in 1851, and is still in the family, run now by the fourth generation.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 1983, bottled 2013

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

On the nose, one of the most elegant Armagnacs I have tasted. Dry, with sultana raisins, dried elderflower, dried berries, potpourri, cumin, and light oak. Rancio and hazlenuts are present in the background, alongside dates, nuts, figs, walnut oil, pralines…another winner! The palate continues with dried berries and lots of nut notes – it isn’t overly heavy or earthy – not suprising given the double distillation. The finish is complex, with roasted spice, oak, light tannins, and preserved lemon.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.

Value: Low. There is better out there for this price.


Review: Dartigalongue 1975 Bas Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
38 Years
Recipe
Distilled from wine from Baco, Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni blanc
Distiller Dartilagongue (Nogaro, France)

Dartigalongue was founded in 1838 when Pascal Dartigalongue moved to Nogaro and founded his Armagnac house. Armagnac became established in large part because of the Dutch merchants, who would export large quantities of Armagnac and typically dilute them before drinking them as a wine - because Armagnac didn't spoil and is more concentrated than wine, you get more for less. When Dartigalongue started, the market was still controlled in large part by export - and he sent casks off to Holland and England. The business is still in the family, now in the 5th generation, and they own surrounding vineyards from which they are able to make their component wines to be distilled.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Bottled 2013, distilled 1975

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

Lots of oak! Interestingly, a good tinge of pomegranate here. Fresh berries, oak, oak, oak…rancio, raisins, currants – all woven together terrifically. Brilliant. A good leap from the 25 year old in terms of complexity. Still dry, too…potpourri, dried flowers, and even some starfruit. The palate is subtle, elegant, and exceedingly complex. The dried floral notes continue, alongside dried fruit and nuts, orange peel, with the rancio taking over and combining with rich dates and prunes and oak to take the finish. Lots of oak, but not too much rancio. On top, you have citrus and caramel, in the middle your spices, and underneath – tangy rancio. Terrific.

Dry, fruity, style- not overly caramel laden. Really comes together with age.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.

Value: Low, on an absolute scale. But $165 for a 40 year old product? That isn’t bad…


Review: Dartigalongue 25 Year Old Bas Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
25 Years, 400 litre casks
Recipe
Distilled from wine from Baco, Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni blanc
Distiller Dartilagongue (Nogaro, France)

This is a mix of the 1979 and 1981 vintages (50% of each), and is terrific in value for an old spirit ($100 in Quebec). But, I still think if you are wanting to taste some older armagnac - spend a bit more and get an even older Dartigalongue like the terrific 1975. Armagnac ages beautifully.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: from 1978 and 1981 vintages

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2006 (?)

I'm not actually sure when this was bottled...in Armagnac they aren't as fussy about age, so, although I bought this in 2016, I'm not sure if it was actually bottled at a minimum 25 years in 2006 or was actually more like 35 years old with a 25 year old age statement because it sounded better. So, I put 2006 as the date but it could well have been that it sat for longer in oak, or sat in the bottle for a while before release.

Unsurprisingly, some oak! Lightly acidic on the nose, with peaches, prunes, figs, vanilla, cinnamon, rancio, and vanilla. A change after some heavy caramel Armagnacs of late! Spicy, too, with some nutmeg and brown cardamom (the non-smoky parts). Apple seed. The palate has a lot more rancio and wood, relatively, than how things came out in the nose. And a pleasant, balancing, brown sugar and toffee sweetness. This is very good – no doubt about that. Lightly tangy, but not very much, and rancio rumbles away in the background with some black pepper. Actually better on the palate than the nose. Dry, too, finishing with some freeze-dried strawberry and lots of dried fruit. Rancio comes in at the end, quite well. Brilliant.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.

Value: Average. But, I still often recommend this from a value perspective - it’s quite a nice spirit.


Review: Tariquet Le Legendaire Bas Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
42%
Aging
13 years
Recipe
Distilled from wine from 30% Baco, 40% Folle Blanche, and 30% Ugni Blanc
Distiller Tariquet (Gers, France)

This armagnac is one of the rare ones bottled above 40% - at 42%, and bottled also at natural color, and, though not prominent, is an Hors d'Age Armagnac - though this is one level above Tariquet's Hors D'Age Armagnac. This has done quite well in a number of competitions, and is worth seeking out if you like Armagnac.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

A very different character than laberdolive. Bright, with caramel, fig, and lots of toffee – and also some wax. Apple seed, vanilla, orange juice, apple juice, and spice – mainly cinnamon and some cloves as well. Oak doesn’t hide out either. Complex! Brown sugar and rancio emerge with time. And the oak continues to emerge, with some white grape, too. The palate carries on with a touch of acidity, and pleasing levels of toffee, dates, rancio, oak, and orange. Pleasing earthiness is in the mix, too. It isn’t the richest of Armagnacs (it’s not light either) – but it is very nicely integrated. The finish is lightly tannic with a terrific mix of citrus, rancio, and caramel. And not a bad kind of caramel…

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.

Value: Average. But it’s creeping up to high, if you don’t mind paying $95.


Review: Les Sables Fauves Hors d’Age Selection Laberdolive Bas-Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
Hors D'Age (>6 years)
Recipe
Distilled from wine from Baco, Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni blanc
Distiller Laberdolive (Landes, France)

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the bottle (which I quite like), but a picture of what it looks like can be found here. Laberdolive has produced spirits since 1866, from wines produced on the land of Les Sables Fauves. Though officially "Hors d'Age" is an equivalent age designation to the "XO" requirement of 6 years, it means "beyond age" and is the highest designation of Armagnac, typically composed of stocks much older than 6 years (e.g. 20+).

It's actually quite the artisinal process: each grape is made into wine and distilled and aged separately in barrels made from oak on the property. The brandies are then bottled without dilution. It's a spirit with true grape to glass story, and a spirit with as much a sense of terrior as you could get.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

What a nose! Rich dried fruits and oak, with lots of brilliant rancio. Caramel, toffee, oak, prunes, figs, vanilla, raw almonds, raisin, white pepper, cardamom, red grape tannin, nutmeg, dried blueberry…and I could keep going. Very impressed. The palate is lightly acidic, with lots of oak showing, rancio, orange peel, lemon peel, raw almonds, rancio, dates, oak – the finish is extremely complex with all of the elements playing through. Terrific spices, too – cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Based on the nose, I hoped for a bit more on the palate – but this is still absolutely terrific stuff.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.

Value: Low. It’s $100 for 500 mls in Quebec, a bit high, despite how much I like the stuff.


Review: J. Dupeyron 1975 Bas Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
39 years, 400 litre Gascon oak casks
Recipe
Distilled from Wine from Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni blanc
Distiller Ryst-Dupeyron (Condom, France)

The Dupeyron house was founded in 1905, though vintages go back to 1850. That may seem like a long time, but Armagnac has been in business since the 14th century so it's not that early. The brand has even done some independent scotch bottlings with their Captain Burns brand. This is a single cask ("collectionneur"), distilled in 1975 and bottled in 2014 (I'm always unsure of why they always seem to bottle them at 39 instead of 40 years...).


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 1975

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Oat cakes, light dried berries, red currants, and loads of spices. Has that spicy green peppercorn note of many Armagnacs, light anise, cumin, lemon peel, dried mushroom, and lots of oak (unsurprisingly). The palate is lightly tannic, againcontinuing with grain and spice laden notes. Rancio, of course, is there, but there is a bit of bitterness in this which detracts from too much oak. The finish is quite nice, with a balance of cereal notes, dried berries, and rancio. A touch of rubbery and medicinal character, too. The finish is earthy and citrusy. Too bitter, though, sadly.

Value: Low. $150 for a 40 year old spirit is cheap, but this isn’t good enough to my tastes for that money.


Review: Damblat 10 Year Old Armagnac Napolean by Jason Hambrey

Damblat.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
~7-8 years
Recipe
Distilled from Wine from Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni blanc
Distiller De Montal (Bas-Armagnac, France)

The Damblat and Havion family have been making Armagnac at the Chateau in Ayguetinte Village since 1859. The Chateau where the brandy ages was first built by the Templers in the 13th century, and is surrounded by vineyards. The company Damblat blends brandies from the regions of Bas Armagnac and Tenareze to produce their products.

This is one that seems to come somewhat regularly to the LCBO, so it's one of the few us Ontarians get a look at..


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 5-09

  • Bottling Code: 305/5310

  • Bottling Date: ~2016

This one is a bit funky. Oaky, with lots of date, fig, stewed prune, tabasco, anise, and lots and lots of spices – ginger, black pepper, candied papaya, green peppercorn, star anise, fresh spinach. The palate continues with more candied papaya, anise candies, cumin, lemon peel, dates, and light rancio. It is very interesting, but I’m not sure if I love it. Different than my limited interation with Armagnac, and in the funky/earthy camp for me which means it may have a tendency to divide opinion. Tannic finish with rancio.

Assessment: Recommended. There are some really nice spice notes in here.

Value: Average. A decent spirit for the price.


Review: Larressingle XO Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
~10-12 years; black oak casks from Bas- Armagnac
Recipe
Distilled from Wine from Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni blanc
Distiller Larressingle (Condom, France)

This Gascony spirit is made at the Chateau de Larressingle, built by the bishops of Condom in 1250 - the cellars there now hold aging Armagnac. It's hard to find much on Armagnac online, but this appears to be blended from a mix of grapes from Bas Armagnac (primarily) and Teneraze, and about 10-12 years old, though some sources say it is older than that.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

The nose has apples and lots of spicy oak – green cardamom, cinnamon, brown cardamom – and also being fairly earthy. Apples seeds, maple, vanilla, dried berries – opening up with time. The palate is oaky and dry, with some rancio, dark chocolate, and lot sof dry oak. Prunes, walnuts, dried apples, raisins. Very lightly creamy. The finish is a bit lighter than the rest, and is quite enduring, with lots of oak, orange, and rancio. Also very rich, sweet, earthy. The layering of rancio with the rest of the flavor is enticing. This would be a bit higher if not for a light touch of some nagging caramel and saccharin.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.

Value: Average. A really nice product, but $100.


Review: Darroze 30 Y.O. Les Grands Assemblages Bas Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
30 years
Recipe
Distilled from Wine from Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni Blanc
Distiller Darroze (Bas-Armagnac, France)

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

The spices have started to shift now with age from more clove into some of the more volatile menthol notes of cardamom and anise. Rancio, brilliant nuts, old candle wax, and a plethora of dried fruit add in a beautiful background to the spicy and rich center. This does not disappoint! The palate is complex, light, and elegant, with no shortage of spices, pralines, roasted nuts, oak, sandalwood, and dried citrus peel.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.

Value: Low. At this price, you can get better Armagac, but, as above, this is very nice stuff still.


Review: Darroze 20 Y.O. Les Grands Assemblages Bas Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
20 years
Recipe
Distilled from Wine from Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni Blanc
Distiller Darroze (Bas-Armagnac, France)

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

In the 20 year old, some of the density begins to lift off the rich, oaky, and spicy younger sibling the 12 year old. We still have lots of dried fruit and spices, but it is more open – the fruit is a bit lighter and brighter, with some fresh citrus (orange, particularly) and berries coming in and rancio coming as well. Oh…and oak. Lots of it. The palate is full of dried fruit and oak, and some nice spices (cardamom and saffron) and, unfortunately, is a bit flat after such a beautiful nose. Still, however, terrific. The finish is rich, and oaky.

Assessment: Recommended.

Value: Low. This commands a decent price, and there are better armagnacs out there for the price.