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View Full Version : Armagnac = alcohol burn??



tallmarc
10-25-2006, 13:36
On my recent splurge (GTS and Saz 18 y/o) I picked up a bottle of Armagnac (Larressingle VSOP), which I figured would be something I could share with my wife. She was in the store with me, and said she liked it.

She didn't. I was also taken a little by surprise. It has the most delightful nose, and the palate is fairly nice, but the finish is pure alcohol burn. We were sipping it neat, from a port/cordial glass.

Any armagnac drinkers out there? Is this normal? Any advice on how to taste/drink it?

I've had cheap brandy before (Christian Brothers), and it went down smoother than this...

CrispyCritter
10-25-2006, 20:19
The only Armagnacs I've had have been from Domaine Le Basque (one bottle of XO, and one of the 1982 vintage that I've been slowly drinking). Neither of them had any more alcohol burn than, let's say, Sazerac 18 or Weller 12. I'd give them both a serious thumbs up.

Jake_Parrott
10-26-2006, 08:25
Larresingle is pretty industrial product. Lower-end Armagnac is best represented by the Chateau de Saint-Aubin bottling that the Kelt chaps do. Great vintage Armagnac is brilliant, but it's best to drink it in France to get good value (twenty to thirty-year old examples can be had for about 8-10E in bars there).

nor02lei
10-31-2006, 11:27
On my recent splurge (GTS and Saz 18 y/o) I picked up a bottle of Armagnac (Larressingle VSOP), which I figured would be something I could share with my wife. She was in the store with me, and said she liked it.

She didn't. I was also taken a little by surprise. It has the most delightful nose, and the palate is fairly nice, but the finish is pure alcohol burn. We were sipping it neat, from a port/cordial glass.

Any armagnac drinkers out there? Is this normal? Any advice on how to taste/drink it?

I've had cheap brandy before (Christian Brothers), and it went down smoother than this...

It needs very long maturation to get its best possible. This is probably because it is single distilled to 110 proof or lower (not the low end ones).Some years ago I did go to an Armagnac tasting with vintages from about 20 years old to over 100. It was a fantastic tasting and a one in a lifetime experience.

Leif

CrispyCritter
11-03-2006, 21:21
Tonight, I picked up a 2006 bottling of Domaine Le Basque Armagnac, the Hors d'Âge (XO) version. This was about $29, a steal IMHO. There was also a VSOP for about $21, and I probably should have picked that up as well, but didn't.

I noticed that the label on the current bottle mentions Cécile and Pierre Lamothe, rather than Michel and Christiane Lamothe. Apparently, the baton has been passed to a new generation; the last time I had the XO, it was a Michel/Christiane version.

I decided to H2H it against their 1982 vintage (bottled 2005); if I remember right, it was about $45 or so. Both are 46% ABV.

1. Hors d'Âge 2006 bottling, Cécile and Pierre Lamothe
Color: Dark, golden-to-red.
Nose: Raisins and bread (but not cinnamon-laced raisin bread).
Palate: Raisiny, fruity in general, a pleasant earthiness, some caramel. Warm, but very little alcohol burn.
Finish: Warm, lightly oaky/tannic, raisins slowly fade.


2. 1982 vintage, bottled 2005, Michel and Christiane Lamothe
Color: Light golden.
Nose: Raisins, white wine... bourbon?
Palate: Much like the Hors d'Âge, but noticeably more intense; even less alcohol burn, and that's a neat trick!
Finish: More fruity, very long-lasting.

These are both quite lovely. The vintage does cost a bit more, and it's worth it, but the XO is more suited to being a daily pour. It might be hard to find the '82 now, but older vintages are still available for even more money. ;) I really ought to try the VSOP version.

Interestingly, they do not have a web site - I guess they're too busy making fine Armagnac to worry about cyberspace.

Mr. Smith
11-08-2006, 01:28
When it comes to drinking armagnac one have to differ between the commercial brands and the traditional ones. you will rarely find traditional armagnac younger than 10 to 15 years, but the commercial ones bottle their armagnac as young as 4 or 5. an armagnac 5 years of age can be called an VSOP, but this has nothing to do with what armagnac is really about. it is rather an attempt to compete with cognac in the market for younger (and cheaper) spirits. this commercial armagnac will more often than not also be double-distilled, just like cognac.
A typical traditional armagnac has been distilled once in a small column still, put to age in oak for 15 to 35 yrs, and botteled at cask strength. the fascinating thing about this excellent spirit is that you can taste more of the "terroir" than in most other brandies. (You can also find good armagnac that is somewhere in between, like Castarede, that dilutes all their armagnac to 40% abv)