France – both bottled at 40% ABV
WARNING & DISCLAIMER – For those who keep, these Armagnacs are not certified as “Kosher” or “Kosher for Passover” (For my kosher keeping friends, imbibe at your own discretion.)
Being that Pesach (Passover) is right around the corner I thought it’d be a good idea to review some non-grain alternative distilled spirits.
I’ve reviewed some Armagnacs in the past and, in general, I find Armagnac to be quite a pleasant and complex spirit. I would not go out of my way to drink some but I’d never turn it down and I’d surely drink Armagnac over most whisky blends (sorry to sound like a whisky snob. I actually really like blends – especially Compass Box which is in a league of its own. When it comes to Compass Box, I think the operative word is *love*).
What is Armagnac? Wikipedia tells us:
“Armagnac (French pronunciation: [aʁmaˈɲak]) is a distinctive kind of brandy produced in the Armagnac region in Gascony, southwest France. It is distilled from wine usually made from a blend of Armagnac grapes, including Baco 22A, Colombard, and Ugni Blanc, using column stills rather than the pot stills used in the production of Cognac. The resulting spirit is then aged in oak barrels before release. Production is overseen by INAO and the Bureau National Interprofessionel de l’Armagnac (BNIA).
Armagnac was one of the first areas in France to begin distilling spirits, but the brandies produced have a lower profile than those from Cognac and the overall volume of production is far smaller. In addition they are for the most part made and sold by small producers, whereas in Cognac production is dominated by big-name brands.”
For more information from Wikipedia on Armagnac, click here.
To find out more about Marquis de Montesquiou, click here.
To find out how these Armagnacs fare in a nosing glass, read below:
Marquis de Montesquiou – VSOP – $49.99
On the nose – Lots of oak influence on this one with waves of vanilla and citrus zest (think Minneola Orange).
Not unlike prunes (boozy ones at that) mixed with red currant.
Some coconut off in the distance with dried mango to the fore.
More dried fruits – like a mixed bag of dried fruits.
On the mouth – Cinnamon ribbon candy followed by white flesh peaches, dried apricots and oodles of vanilla spiced chai.
Middle of the road mouthfeel. This is quite delicious.
The spice really comes through and there’s a touch of a floral freshness to it that reminds me of a blossoming apple orchard (yet without tasting floral – it’s just a feel).
Finish – Spiced rum cakes, decent length.
In sum – I’m happy to have had this Armagnac. Fine, refined, balanced. Perfect as an after dinner drink in place of a Port or Madeira.
Marquis de Montesquiou – XO – $129.99 (suggested retail – could not find an online retail source. It’s imported by Impex – tell this to your local bottle shop and they should be able to help out)
On the nose – Full of fresh berries – blue, red an incredibly ripe and juicy.
Spiced berry compote and vanilla bean ice cream – being melted by said compote.
Cantaloupe (?) with anise seed powder sprinkled about.
On the mouth – Much more present in mouthfeel than the VSOP however, the flavors are a bit more reluctant to rear their heads.
Trying another sip… A much more subtle Armagnac than the VSOP. The fruits are not here but the vanilla remains.
Touches of brown sugar and waxy, candied orange peel.
Finish – Warming and long. Burnt potpourri.
In sum – A different animal compared to the VSOP. If I had to choose (based on flavor, overall experience and price point), I’d go with the VSOP.
However, this XO does offer you a drink that’ll warm your bones as well as any peaty whisky.
Special thanks to the good people at Impex Beverages, Inc for the samples!