Jack Tar, the new-ish bottler of high-end spirits sent a bunch of samples over a while ago. I normally try to get around to samples like this fairly quickly, but in this case I wanted to make it a more special moment.
Why, you ask? Well, because of what the samples are. In the package were four different Armagnacs from Alfred Dubois Lizee, with vintages from all over last century. The ‘youngest’ of the bunch is from 1973, and the oldest is from 1934.
Especially if your frame of reference is whisky, these vintages are exceptional. Even if you’re used to older spirits, these vintages are exceptional, by the way. It’s just utterly ridiculous to try 88 year old booze.
Alfred Dubois Lizee is a producer of Armagnac that dates back to 1830. I guess they are a rather unknown one with a very specific market, since the website is in Polish. Jack Tar owns the brand name, which means these Armagnacs are very unlikely to pop up elsewhere. The brand name and the producer are two different things in this case, as the ‘house’ that produces these brandies is called Veuve Goudoulin Armagnac, but this house was founded for Alfred Dubois Lizee in 1935. I wonder what this means for the origins of the older vintages…
Of course, who owns the brand and the language of the website doesn’t affect liquid of this age, but with a date of origin that far back, it’s not overly surprising some older stuff is available!
Under the ‘Retrouve Anime’ series, two sets have been released by Jack Tar. The first and the second, where these samples are from the first. The second series consists of even older vintages, on average, with the oldest being from 1914 and the youngest from 1952.
All of the Armagnacs have been bottled at natural cask strength, and in this series the availability ranges from 60 to just over 100 bottles.
Brigitte, Bas Armagnac 1973, 49yo, 47.8%, Single Dame Jeanne
This one needs some time to open up. More ‘straight forward’ for an Armagnac. Lots of grapes, a hint of copper and candied orange.
A gentle palate that doesn’t really bite, but does bring complexity. Lovely notes of oak and pepper, held in check by slightly syrupy fruits like orange, plums and grapes. A hint of raisin and cherries.
The finish is gorgeous with a nod back to the crispness of the first one, Paul. Lots of fruits, a minor hint of copper and oak and pepper.
Insanely complex and gorgeously layered. The balance between wood and spirit seems completely spot on!
Paul, Bas Armagnac 1965, 57yo, 43.4%, Single Dame Jeanne
Gentle oak and an almost rum like sweetness. It’s not overly heavy, as in it’s surprisingly crisp for such an old dram. Blue grapes, pineapple, pear. Quite a lot of fruit. Oranges too.
A surprisingly wood forward palate. Dry with a hint of bitterness. Grape seeds, raisin twigs, a hint of copper. Very different from the nose. There’s some sweetness after a while, with more direct fruity notes. Grapes, raisins, apricot.
The finish holds the middle between the nose and palate in the fruit department. It’s a bit more rich and dark, though. The woody notes linger longest. A bit of orange pith shows up towards the end.
Here the oak starts to get a bit more pronounced, although it’s unmistakably similar to the ‘Brigitte’. Lovely fruity notes!
Jane, Bas Armagnac 1963, 59yo, 46.2%, Single Dame Jeanne
Lots of copper, iron and minerals. Old apples, white grapes, and some oak. Not a lot of wood. Cherries and blackberries, black grapes. Fresh and baked fruits. Very fruit forward.
Not surisingly, as the third of these beauties, there’s a lot of oak, rancio and black pepper. The red fruits are here too, mostly black cherries and blackberries.
The finish continues down the same line, but is slightly more sweet and syrupy. A whiff of port, even.
The more syrupy port notes are very interesting and quite different from what I found in the ‘younger’ siblings.
Claude, Bas Armagnac 1934, 88yo, 44.2%, Single Dame Jeanne
Dark with chocolate raisins and plums. Lots of oak, but very gentle. There’s a very light note of nuts. Somewhere between walnuts and pecans.
The palate combines dark fruits like plums,cherries and raisins, with lots of oak and a cherry stone bitterness. Dark chocolate and, somehow, bay leaf.
The finish brings a bit of sweetness, but stays very dark with wood, fruit and chocolate. Massively old, of course.
With this having matured for longer than anyone in my family is old, it’s not overly surprising that the oak starts to get the upper hand here. It’s a truly remarkable thing with it being very wood forward, but not ‘over oaked’ as some very old distillates can get.
The word ‘impressive’ comes to mind! This was one of the better Sunday afternoons in recent history, with all four of these drams being incredibly gorgeous.
The set of four Armagnacs is available from Jack Tar for € 1900. Thanks a million for giving me the opportunity to try these awesome brandies!