When I started going through the Armagnacs from that recent bottle-share, I decided to start with the more recent distillates. On the other hand, I couldn’t wait to dive into the old ones too.
What I did was make a line-up of four different ones. These two from Chateau Laballe (Bas Armagnacs) and two from Saint Christeau, the 1940 and 1987. I’ll review these two first, since those are the ones I started with, and it makes for an easy duo.
Chateau Laballe Réserve, 40%
Quite typical for a young spirit and quite raw. On the nose there’s also something warming and fresh oak. Restrained with hints of butter, chocolate and kork.
The palate is sharper than I expected, but that’s more the young spirit than it’s the alcohol. Surprisingly rich, but still spirity with tree bark and, well, heavy. As in, it doesn’t seem to flow easily.
The finish is fruity and spirity. Quite typical of a fruit spirit. Not unlike smooth grappa. Quite short.
Chateau Laballe 2006 vintage, 40%
A lot more oak than the Réserve. The spirity and grappa notes are gone. Light and dusty with nutmeg. More chocolate too, and cocoa and orange oil.
A lot more oak than the Réserve. Sharp and quite similar to grain whisky. Cocoa nibs, oak, conifer. Some spices too.
The finish is nice and full. Slightly sharp with alcohol and oak. The fruit is very noticable. Long, with white chocolate, milk and beurre noisette.
So, what did I think of these? The Réserve is in a similar price range as a blended scotch. Its also similar in quality. Not very convincing but very acceptable. It would never convince me to switch from whisky to Armagnac, though. It’s all a bit thin, and unpolished.
The second one is a lot better with far more depth, and far more flavors to be discovered. At it’s price point (just under € 50, I believe) it’s in a rather acceptable single malt bracket. It fits. I think when push comes to shove I might just buy something like this if the choice was this or a, let’s say, Glenfiddich 15.
The combination of white chocolate and buttery fats with the conifer and spices works well and balances nicely.
Still, no reason to abolish whisky, but a nice bit of variety.