For the Love of Armagnac
On Wednesday, February 13th, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society hosted a wonderful tasting at The Brandy Library in New York City. “For the Love of Armagnac” brought this noble spirit into focus as we spent an evening learning about the region, its history, production and provenance. The presentation, led by Armagnac Ambassador May Matta-Aliah, sparked great discussion and a host of thoughtful questions. From the origins of oak to the best way to enjoy this spirit, it was remarkable to see a room full of whisky lovers get so excited about Armagnac! What an experience it was to taste these vintage casks side by side. From traditional blended grape casks to single grape varietal casks, the differences in each were astounding! If you couldn’t be with us, here is a quick rundown:
Cask A3.2 Fruity pipe tobacco
This was the first dram of the night. Combining Ugni Blanc and Baco grape varietals, it offered a rich palate and silky texture to ease us in. More stewed fruit and herbal tones offered great complexity alone and when paired with passed hors d’oeuvres. A perfect introduction to the Armagnac category.
Cask A4.2 Fresh as a daisy
This was the first single varietal dram, comprised of 100% Folle Blanche. This grape is known for its delicate and floral nature, best enjoyed in its youth (under 15 years old). The floral aromas are unmistakable and complimented by stone fruit, poached pear and sweet spices. The palate embodies the delicate nature of the grape with a bright delivery. If you’re a fan of nuanced Speyside whisky, give this one a shot.
Cask A5.2 Musk coated candyfloss
This 100% Ugni Blanc Armagnac is a big, brawny dram with tons of texture and confection. Cherry, chocolate, coffee, figs and caramel were just some of the flavours announced by very impressed tasters. Whisky lovers who keep an eye out for Pedro Ximenez casks should pay attention to this one. There are great similarities in this explosive spirit.
Cask A5.1 Fruit shop raid
If the previous dram brings to mind the PX lover, this 100% Colombard Armagnac is a great choice for the Oloroso sherry cask fan. More floral notes here with loads of caramelized bananas and crepes, toffee, brown sugar, cinnamon. Beyond the fact that a vintage 1989 cask has an ABV 63.1%, we were tod (???) this grape varietal is never used by itself. This is a unicorn of an Armagnac and a very unique taste experience.
Cask A2.2 Enchanted woodland stroll
This last dram was a return to the classic grape blend of Ugni Blanc and Baco. The integration and complexity here speaks to the age of this Armagnac distilled in 1974, forty-five years ago! The fruit is lively and fresh with fantastic structure from the oak. Sweet and savoury complexities play off a core of spices, dried fruits and honey. Depth is amazing here with the profile expanding with time in the glass. If you enjoy a supremely aged mainland whisky, this is the Armagnac you’ve been waiting for.
We extend our sincere thanks to the members and spirit lovers that toasted with us at The Brandy Library. We look forward to hosting more Armagnac events around the country so we may share in this remarkable spirit epiphany!