Spirits Review

Review: Delord Bas-Armagnac 10-30 Year Old by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
10-30 Yrs
Recipe
Distilled from Wine from Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni blanc
Distiller Delord (Bas-Armagnac, France)

Delord is one of the most ubiquitous producers of bas-armagnac, which is generally dominated by small producers. Over the Christmas holiday, they released a small collection of their armagnacs at 10, 20, and 30 year old. It was hard to resist. Rather than post each review individually, I thought I’d combine them all here so that readers can see the differences with age.


Delord 10 Year Old

Delord 10 Year Old

Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

Rich raisin aromas, bright spice, clove, dried currant, orange peel, cinnamon, stewed quince, and light caramel. The vanilla and the oak come in nicely on the nose. When compared to some older Armagnacs, it’s still a bit “raw” but that sharpness adds to its appeal here. Very pleasant on the palate, with an incredible richness of dried fruit accented with spice and caramel. The fruits here, indeed, are largely stewed and not quite dried. The finish is quite sweet and spicy, with some clove, star anise, light caramel, and some red currant. A great display of spice!

Assessment: Recommended. On the edge, though. On some days as I enjoy this, it creeps into “highly recommended”.


Delord 20 Year Old

Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

Rich oak, dried fruit, and lots of spice – in many ways, this Armagnac is a reflection of the 10 year old while being richer and deeper. The spices really build up well with time, and the top notes of this Armagnac are more perfumed. The oak is present in a big way but it doesn’t dominate (very nice). The nose is so rich and interesting - it is slightly addictive. The oak integration is near perfect. Bright and light on the palate (even compared to the 10 year old) with tobacco, dried fruit, citrus peel, and layers of creamy caramel. The finish has some light tobacco, wood tannins, orange, red currant, and baking spice.   

Assessment: Highly Recommended


Delord 30 Year Old

Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

Rich dried fruit, rich spice, and some nuttiness too – almonds, prunes, baking spice, orange peel, semi-dried apple (you know those soft dried apples that are still a little moist?), pomegranate, cinnamon, clove, oak, toffee, and something really rich, deep, and reduced – like reduced pomegranate juice pomegranate molasses that isn’t perfumed with orange blossom. There is a nuttiness and an oily character that brings a really nice savoury character to this brandy. The nose and palate are just brilliant. Incredibly rich, oily (in a good, savoury, rich way), spicy, fruity, and elegant. Terrific brown-butter notes too. The finish is relatively light, but is incredibly savoury with lots of dried fruit and a few berries, here and there.

The way in which brandied develop over time is remarkable. It’s very different than whisky, which, in some ways “reduces” and becomes more elegant over time (if not in new oak casks) whereas brandy builds in richness while becoming lighter and more savoury. I love these old brandies.

Assessment: Very highly recommended.


Review: Chateau de Bordeneuve Bas-Armagnac by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48.5%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
Distilled from Wine from Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Ugni blanc
Distiller Chateau de Bordeneuve (Bas-Armagnac, France)

There isn’t too much information about this Armagnac online - but I love bas-armagnac, and any 10 yr+ olds that I can get above 40% is a quick sell for me!


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

The spices here are all over the map, from baking spice to anise seed, fennel, and cardamom. Orange peel, dried raisins, dried apricots, prunes, vanilla, and even a light herbal character. The palate has nice fruit and a good kick of spice, in flavour and feel (no doubt the 48.5% helps!). The finish is focused largely on orange and baking spice, with a nice tannic fade. The ABV is nice here – it really adds to the flavour and the finish, but even with this, it’s on the lighter side of Armagnac. But, the finish is just terrific with all the rich fruit and spice and tannins – it makes you want to grab another, and then another…

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Plymouth Gin by Jason Hambrey

Plymouth Gin 1.jpg
ABV
41.2%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Black Friar's Distillery (Plymouth, England)

For some info on the brand and the protected “Plymouth Gin” designation, see my post on the navy strength gin.

I got back into this gin because it is one of the best all-purpose gins for cocktails, adding a lot of depth and classic gin character without dominating subtle cocktails either.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

I never actually reviewed the standard version of Plymouth, until now. When reviewing the navy strength, based on my experiments with watering the spirit down, I thought that the ~40% version wouldn’t amount to much. I was wrong.

The gin, on its own, is a mix of a whole lot of components – juniper, coriander, and citrus almost in equal balance with depth across each of those categories. On the palate, each category seems to come out differently – deep lemon and orange zest, light sweetness, piney notes from juniper, and the freshest coriander imaginable, like a seed toasted and simply bitten into. The finish is so clean and citrusy, with notes of juniper complementing it all. There is also a pleasant brininess to it all – some pickled lemon, in fact, would be my closest analogy.

As a gin, it is quite good, but what really impresses is the versatility in mixing. Because of the depth of the citrus, juniper, and coriander, highlights are added in each of those categories and yet none of them dominates. Indeed, if you taste this one straight up the citrus is highlighted but the juniper and spice are still so clearly defined.

I’ve yet to find a gin which I prefer as the base of a martini, and it seems to work seamlessly across the endless spectrum of gin cocktails. In certain cases, I want more of a juniper hit, but yet, I’m never disappointed with this one. Very nice stuff.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Last Mountain Distillery 306 Rum by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
First fill ex-bourbon
Recipe
100% blackstrap molasses
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

Last Mountain distillery remains one of my favourite spirits producers in Canada - and I’ve always been eager to see how they have put together a rum. Generally the rums have been 1-3 years old, but now they are mostly 2.5 to 3 years old as the distillery has built up stocks. And - the rums should continue to increase in age as their inventory grows. The molasses has been sourced from an international producer to date, but they are soon switching to a Canadian supplier.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

The nose is sweet, with dried fruit, brown sugar, baking spices, toffee, balsamic vinegar, and a nice oakiness. It’s very clean – and the baking spices on the nose are just awesome. The palate is quite oaky, with dried apricot, orange peel, a whiff of molasses, vanilla, and white pepper. The finish is lightly tannic, with vanilla, baking spices, light molasses, prunes, and dried apricot.

It isn’t like a lot of other Canadian rums, which are often focused on heavy flavours. This is clean and elegant, and nicely balanced with a good cask. The cask character is strong in this – but since it is an ex-bourbon it works very well with this rum, rather than a new cask which would just dominate. I’ve tasted so many rums that are still quite raw at this age – nice to see one so clean and refined.

If mixing is your thing, and you like sidecar-type cocktails - this is quite nice in a Between The Sheets cocktail. In fact, you could stay in the Last Mountain lane and use their red-wine finished whisky as a cognac substitute – very different than cognac, but still fits into the cocktail well.

Or, if you want something darker, this would work well in a dark and stormy or else a rye and ginger ale, on the lighter side. That does the trick too…

Assessment: Recommended.


Review: Dillon's Peach Schnapps by Jason Hambrey

Dillon's Peach Schnapps 1.jpg
ABV
24%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% Rye + Fresh Ripe Niagara Peaches
Distiller Dillon's (Beamsville, ON)

This is one of my favourite spirits I’ve tried this year, and I think it illustrates some of the great things that Canadian distillers are doing. This schnapps is made with Dillon’s 100% rye base, and to it are added fresh Niagara peaches. This schnapps isn’t too sweet, and it has a great essence of peaches - it is fantastic!


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Peaches! But really nice ones, not fake in flavour at all. Peach, peach, peach, clean and rich – but also some nice rich spices, prunes, dried apricot, peach jam…it is slightly sweet on the palate, but not too sweet – with blackberry and blueberry notes making their way in. The rye spirit does so well with the peaches here – awesome stuff. Most schnapps don’t have the depth of spirit as this, the fruit flavour isn’t as vibrant, and they are much sweeter. So, this is a winner.

This makes me want to go hunt for Dillon’s cassis. Great to see some great Canadian spirits being produced.

This makes a really nice cocktail with 120 ml sparkling, ½ oz gin, 2/3 oz peach schnapps, and 1 tsp honey.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.