Chateau Tariquet Folle Blanche 12 years

Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
Chateau Tariquet Folle Blanche 12 years
Brandy
Score:
86/100
2, medal, silver icon
 
ABV:
48.5% 
Region:
Bas-Armagnac, France
Body:
Medium
Intensity:
Medium
Texture:
Smooth
Balance:
Superb
Best served:
Grape:
Neat
Folle blanche 

Theme(s):
Tart, spicy, pepper, dry, citrus, under-ripe fruit, peppermint, nutmeg, wood notes, chocolate, green pineapple, papaya, bitter and earthy nuts (hazelnuts, Brazil nuts)  
Summary:
Tasting notes:
Nose: Fresh crisp lemon rind citrus notes strike the nose with flecks of granular cereal and a dry astringency that morphs back and forth from super dry white wine to wood varnish. Whatever fruit there is on the nose is under-ripe, as wood notes and acidity quickly cover any brief shimmers of sweetness – this is dry on the nose, with a sharpness and tartness for which folle blanche is famous. Within the dryness and spiciness shines some mild nutty notes, almost like hazelnuts and Brazil nuts. 
 
Taste: Despite its dry nose, this Armagnac offers a delightful experience on the palate. Starting dry, the fruit notes dominate more than on the nose with grape and fig adding a sweetness that is interrupted by green pineapple and papaya. There is a herbaceous twang that, without warning, dries the palate as nutmeg and wood notes linger beside the fruit and fiery pepper. There is something distinctive and enjoyable about this Armagnac, a note that cannot quite be identified with accuracy but which resembles earthy and bitter varieties of nits (hazelnuts, Brazil nuts) with peppermint candy – a hot Fisherman’s friend calmed by sweet fruit notes and some chocolate, as it rests alongside the peppery and sweet papaya seeds. 
 
Finish: Mild papaya flesh with passion fruit and a spicy heat. Burn baby burn!
 
Likes:
Fresh, crisp, spicy, dry, distinctive 
Warning:
Recommended only for people who appreciate folle blanche

Delord Bas-Armagnac 1985

Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
Delord Bas-Armagnac 1985 
Brandy
Score:
86/100 
2, medal, silver icon
 
ABV:
40% 
Region:
Bas-Armagnac, France
Body:
Average 
Intensity:
Soft 
Texture:
Thin
Balance:
Good
Best served:
Grapes:
Neat 
Ugni blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard, Baco
 
Theme(s):
Medium-dry, wood, raisin, prune, dark chocolate, spicy (ginger and cloves)
Summary:
A beautifully balanced start delivers soft dried fruit balancing against wood notes of spicy ginger and cocoa that gain dominance towards the end to create an Armagnac with a medium-dry wood laden finish 
 
Tasting notes:
The grapes that make up this fine sipping Armagnac come from the terrain of the much revered appellation Bas-Armagnac. This particular 1985 vintage Armagnac from Delord was bottled on 4 December 2012. 
 
Nose: A herbaceous, almost confectionery, twang (similar to Allens mint leaves) cuts through diverse layers of dried fruit (prune, raisin and dried fig) as dark chocolate develops into sugary after dinner mints. The dried fruit then softens into a fig jam, with notes of lemon and orange rind that shimmer over a backdrop of wood. 
 
Taste: Thin and light, this is a sippers Armagnac – nicely balanced start with soft undertones of fruit that work harmoniously with the wood notes chiming from the oak influence. It is spicy, with shaved ginger and cloves developing with the mouth-drying dark chocolate that was evident on the nose. The herbaceous notes are no where to be found on the palate, and instead the wood takes a dominant role towards the middle-end with (as already noted) mouth-drying dark chocolate and spices burning out the prune and sultana.
 
Finish: Decent and quite dry, nutmeg and ginger remain as the tip of the tongue dries with notes of wood and the aftertaste of an under-ripe persimmon – furry and drying with tart fructose sugars.  
 
Likes:
Complex and a lot to explore
Dislikes:
Bitter and dry twang towards the middle-end, which unbalances what is otherwise a great balanced start  
Price:
$120

Francis Darroze 1959 51 Year Old

Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
Francis Darroze 1959 51 Year Old
Brandy
Score:
91/100 

ABV:
40%
Region:
Bas-Armagnac, France
Body:
Full
Intensity:
Gentle 
Texture:
Slightly viscous 
Balance:
Near perfect 
Best served:
Neat
Theme(s):
Blackberry, dark berries, dried apricot, prune, dates, rancio, wine, leather, cigar, wood, powdered coffee, dried oregano, tobacco, bubblegum, fig, mango, herbaceous, menthol, eucalyptus, cherry and vanilla cola syrup, popping candy, complex, gentle, elegant
Summary:
This Armagnac glides along the palate like molten silk, buzzing with subtle shades of character and a finesse and elegance that only 51 long years in oak can produce – the fusion of flavours meld together and then slowly untangle as gentle strands of character delight the senses and the masterpiece unravels. 

Tasting notes:
By refusing to blend or dilute their Armagnac, Francis Darroze offer the uncut purity of Armagnac at its finest – the equivalent to cask strength single cask single malts, but for the world of French brandy. A big part of Francis Darroze is its emphasis on the land from which the grapes are grown, Bas-Armagnac. This land is believed to give the grapes a particular character, which, with proper nurturing and care, survives distillation and maturation. This particular Armagnac was distilled in 1959 and has been aged for 51 years before being put in its bottles. 

Tasting a spirit that is older than you are is very special, but tasting a spirit that is older than your parents is a level above that – it is mesmerizing, provoking an indescribable appreciation for the 50+ year old spirit that sits sloshing in your palm. 


Darroze 1959 51 Year Old

Nose: Subtle shades of leather – suede in particular – intermingle with sharp flecks of cocoa and gentle fumes of tobacco. The rancio develops in the glass, with distinct wine aromas and wood notes – cedar and cork with polished wood. There is a confectionery sweetness on the nose that is dense, very similar to raspberry and blackberry jam and it weakens into strawberries and cream. As the Armagnac rests in the glass, faint notes of anise seed develop with powdered coffee and other herbaceous notes, in particular died oregano and tarry wet cigar. The dried oregano intensifies the longer the spirit rests in the glass, as its candied grape sweetness spearheads character that is light and surprising fresh for such an old spirit. 

Taste: Amazingly unique and complex, there is a fusion of character that is at first taste almost indescribable – it is simply an “x-factor” that delights. On consecutive sips, it reveals itself as neither fully bitter or sweet but a combination of herbaceous and woody notes that are held together by fruit notes (dark berries, dried apricot, prune and dates) and combine the sugar sap-like sugars of wood with the tangy character of herbs – pronounced notes of raspberry and blackberry drops develop into bubblegum and popping candy, and as it tingles on the palate the wood begins to reveal itself with sweet tobacco notes and candied ginger (without the sharpness) developing with cedarwood. The sweetness then dissipates into soft fresh fig and gentle mango notes, as menthol and eucalyptus begin to faintly sine in the backdrop of flat cherry and vanilla cola. This is spectacular, and 51 longs years in oak has produced some fascinating flavours that shine faintly as the Armagnac slides down the palate like molten silk. 


Finish: The confectionery sweetness remains with yellow peaches and tart yet sweet fruit notes. 


Likes:
Hugely complex and delightfully light, this Armagnac is unique and should be savoured slowly
 
 
Price:
$665 (Aus)

Janneau XO Royal

Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
Janneau XO Royal

 

Score:
92/100
3, medal, silver icon

ABV:
40%
Region:
Body:
Medium
Intensity:
Medium
Texture:
Medium-buttery
Balance:
Heavenly, almost perfect 
Best served:
Cask:
Aged: 
Distillation:

Neat
Predominately Limousin Oak
12-25 years
Single (80%), double (20%)
Theme(s):
Creamy vanilla, rum and raisin, dried fig, dates, chocolate shop, fresh, wood and oak, mild soft licorice, mild rancio, citrus blossoms, vanilla persimmon, mixed nuts, dried fruit  

Summary:
Armagnac in a glass, this brandy offers exquisite balance and pure harmony of flavours in a way that re-confirms the culinary genius of the French – some brandy may be too sweet or have an alcoholic “hot” twang, but the Janneau XO is “just right” with subtlety, balance, elegance and finesse.  
Tasting notes:
Readers of this website will know that Malt Mileage “blind” tastes and parallel tastes spirits so every effort is made to rate spirits without knowing what they are and side by side. Just like Goldilocks trying the chairs, beds and porridge of the three bears successively and discovering one one that is “just right”, at Malt Mileage parallel “blind” tasting reveals the subtle differences in spirits. On a parallel blind tasting of six VSOP and XO brandies, only the Janneau XO Royal was “just right”!
 
Elegance and finesse are two qualities that immediately come to mind when describing the Janneau XO Royal – an Armagnac that offers subtle sparks of artistry that dance on the tongue with panache and a silky smooth polished performance. I have only experienced a similar smoothness and balance with the finest XO and prestige cognacs – Hine Antique XO and Hennessy Paradis, to name a couple. 
 
The balance of this armagnac deserves special attention, because the oak influence acts as a counterbalance that moderates the sugars in a way that is very rarely seen with brandy and, in my experience, only brandies of the very finest quality. This is highly recommended for the malt lover because it has a delightful smoothness that is not interrupted,  as most brandies sometimes are, by the “hot” twang of alcohol and sugars that dominate and cloak the complex phenolic compounds imparted by the oak and maturation. This brandy allows the complex oak driven flavours to shine on the palate, lovely! 
 
Nose: The nose on this Armagnac is sweet, creamy, earthy, spicy and fruity, and, chocolaty. The Armagnac is sweet with raisins, preserved orange in syrup and dried figs, creamy with rum and raisin ice cream releasing notes of vanilla and gently milky sugars, earthy with pine and fresh green fields, spicy and fruity with orange peel, orange blossom and lemon based spices, and, chocolaty with chocolate cake releasing different shades of chocolate from the baked sponge to the more intense chocolate layering and sugary piping. This is magic.    
Taste: Smooth and slightly buttery, the oak weighs against the distillate and neither truly dominate – almost perfect! My grandfather grows fruit in his garden, which means that I am in the fortunate position of being able to identify vanilla persimmon and overripe blood plum, transplanted orange/lemon, orange blossom, grapes and fresh soft figs. Mouth filling, this brandy coats the tongue with a creamy layer of fruit goodness that is balanced with the oak – imagine a biting into dried fruit, freshly picked figs, persimmon, blood plums and grapes as the crunch of mixed nuts is followed by a sip of red wine, a block of dark chocolate and a worry free deep breath of fresh air by a blossoming lemon tree on a Spring afternoon. 
Finish: The finish lingers, with orange extract, lemon myrtle, thyme, cocoa and dates. The orange peel and citrus balances against the sweet dates, as the cocoa cuts through the creamy layer of vanilla that rests on the tongue. A slight red wine and rancio finish endures. 
 
Lemon blossoms in our garden

 

Likes:
Soft, subtle, creamy and balanced – beautiful!
Warning:
This is not so much a “dislike” but a warning. This brandy is elegant and gentle, with subtle nuances that deserve to be explored. 
Price:
£60 (UK), $100 (Aus)

Janneau VSOP

Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
Janneau VSOP
Brandy

 

Score:


84/100
1, bronze, medal icon
ABV:
40%
Region:
Armagnac 
Body:
Medium 
Intensity:
Medium 
Texture:
Medium 
Balance:
Superb
Best served:
Age:
 
Neat
7-14 years
Theme(s):
Chocolate, cherries, vanilla, hazelnuts, “hot” twang of alcohol 
Summary:
 
Tasting notes:
The Janneau VSOP offers complex flavours and a rounded character, but within the beautiful flavours is a mild “hot” twang of alcohol from the younger eaux-de-vie. It is very mild, but for a masterpiece and excellent example of pure harmony and balance of flavours I highly recommend the Janneau XO Royal. 

Nose: Rich chocolate and cherry is softened by creamy vanilla and hazelnuts as the the oak adds further depth and spice. The distillate is noticeable, burning slightly in the backdrop. 
 
Taste: “Hot” with a burst and energy, the younger eaux-de-vie take a leading role in the surge of flavours that fill the palate. The spicy oak and glazed cherries combine with the chocolate, vanilla and hazelnuts as the piercing alcohol and sugars from the distillate cut through the blanket of rancio forming on the palate. 
 
Finish: This armagnac presents with a nutty finish and nutella, as red stone fruits and sugars steam off the palate. 
Likes:
Complex nose with excellent flavours 
Dislikes:
Alcoholic twang all too common with younger eaux-de-vie
Price:
$75 (Aus)

Chabot XO

Spirit Type:
Brandy

 

Score:


87/100
2, medal, silver icon
ABV:
40%
Region:
Armagnac, France  
Body:
Full 
Intensity:
Medium-high (dense and blunt, bot piercing)
Texture:
Medium-oily
Balance:
Heavenly 
Best served:
Neat
Theme(s):
Floral, fruit (plum, lychee), compote, honey, blunt oak, old moscato, shiraz, chocolate, butter creaminess
In a nutshell:
A bouquet of flowers develops with plum, lychee and chocolate layered with old red wine as blunt oak moves to the palate and moderates the fresh plum and plum compote that shines with a drizzle of honey and a finish of fine moscato and a buttery creaminess 
Likes:
Drinkable and very smooth 
Dislikes:
Tasted:
On further tastings a surge of sweetness unsettles the balance
10/06/2013, 11/06/2013, 12/06/2013, 06/19/2013
Price:
$110
Chabot XO is a perfect example of a full bodied Armagnac that delivers a beautifully balanced character of fruit, nuts and spicy bitter oak.

Nose 

As though a bouquet of flowers sits in the glass, the nose presents with the perfume of freshly cut flowers. It is beautiful, almost like admiring flowers in the florist because the fragrance is accompanied by petals and push green. As the brandy rests, the aroma of blood plums and lychee develops with crushed almonds and cashews. There is a subtle sweetness that is in no way overpowering, as the blunt oak moderates the fruit and old muscato wine that is drizzled over chocolate fudge. The wine is of excellent quality, old and dry with some sweetness. This is excellent stuff!

Taste 

The punch of blunt oak hits the palate with notes of vanilla and dark chocolate, as the plum remains supple and fresh with notes of sugary honey and some hints of mint. The fresh plum becomes plum compote as the brandy rests on the tongue but just as the syrupy sweetness develops it is washed away by spicy oak and an earthy nuttiness that brings a full bodied old red wine, very similar to a shiraz/syrah.

This brandy has a beautiful character that is impeccably balanced.

Finish 

The character of an old moscato lingers, with its dryness balancing beautifully against the sweetness of the grape. The finish is creamy, and almost buttery.

Nismes-Delclou Armagnac XO (20 Year Old)

While this blog focuses on whisky, it would be a shame to ignore the wonderful variety of spirits available. I believe that it is important to try different spirits (especially armagnac, cognac and rum)to develop your palate and appreciation for the distinctive attributes of whisky. Comparing spirits can be just as rewarding as comparing whiskies!

I have the pleasure of writing a review of a 20 Year Old Nismes-Delclou Armagnac XO, which is essentially a brandy that is produced in southern France within the Armagnac region in Gascony. Armagnac is commonly distilled only once unlike Cognac which is distilled twice, and produced from specific authorized grapes. Like whisky, the spirit is then aged in oak barrels. Cognac and Armagnac branded VSOP have been aged for five years and the XO have been aged for six. As you can tell, the Armagnac and cognac industry is heavily regulated in France.
 
Nose
As expected sweetness permeates the nose like sniffing moscato and port, though some bitterness and oak moderate this sweetness as tangy zest adds some buzz. Let this brandy rest in a glass before enjoying it, as this will allow it to release all its wonderful beauty. The age of this Armagnac is evident, with a lovely oily texture that hugs the glass and a rich deep amber colour with tinges of brown. The nose on this Armagnac is perfect. After a little while orange peel and orange cake set in as a dominant scent, layered with honey and syrup. All the while that wonderful age and oak keeps everything well balanced. I better take a sip of I’ll be here all night!
 
Taste
Majestic, with sheer elegance this Armagnac delights my tongue with the smoothest of entries as it politely unleashes gentle flavours that develop and get stronger until an explosion of oak and citrus engulf my entire mouth. This is beautiful Armagnac. Absolutely beautiful! That sweetness, almost port sweetness, is not overpowering. It is not overly sweet despite its nose, and instead has a magnificent balance. There is something quite spectacular about an aged brandy, as the oak interacts with the fermented grape over time. It offers a wonderful buzz, like sherbet in the mouth as it tingles and fizzes. Then with the fizz of champagne it begins to come to an end.
 
Finish
Wondrously long, this Armagnac delivers a brilliant surge of dry sweetness and supple age in almost perfect harmony. So forget the croissants and art, you’ve not experienced French culture until you try a good Armagnac!

The only negative feature of this Armagnac, for me, is that it was very slightly unbalanced towards the sweet side.  

Bonsoir! Now, go and make love!