We’ve amassed a huge amount of Armagnacs and while we can navigate the field of Armagnac somewhat reasonably, we don’t know how to pick the cherries exactly. What we know is that we should improve these skills quickly, as there are still many excellent, vastly underpriced (!) Armagnacs around. These gems just want to be found. This is why we will be having Armagnacs a bit more often now and even if you’re only here for the R(h)um, I encourage you to join me on my journey – I believe that it will be very rewarding! From an organisational point of view, we will be grouping the Armagnacs rather randomly, starting with a bunch of Armagnacs released by L’Encantada, who seem to be at the top of the game when it comes to what would be the equivalent of independent bottlings (if such a thing exists with Armagnac).
Before we forget – this was a rather long sessions with a few Rum-buddies. Alas some briefer notes have to suffice.
We start with a pair of blends (or at least bottlings without domain-statements) before we move on to the single domain Armagnacs.
L’Encantada 20 ans #187 (47,2%)
Nose: Very nice, fresh, sweet, floral and perfumed. There’s also a slight sourness from the grapes.
Palate: Quite woody and bitter, with chocolate, old coffee, grain and corn.
Finish: A bit too much on the woody side.
It is pretty cool and tasty, but slightly too bitter and slightly too boring for me. But trust me, it will get much, much better. (80/100)
L’Encantada 25 ans #133 (47,2%)
Nose: Very mature, with wood, tobacco and leather. Very much on the dry side, perhaps a bit too much even.
Palate: Extremely spicy and woody with espresso, dried apple chips, cumin, caraway and chocolate. The bitterness is kinda annoying, actually.
Finish: Too long and too bitter for my liking.
It has some solid rudiments but I feel that it would have been a lot better at 15-20 years, say. (76/100)
Let’s move on to Lasalle, which should be the same domain as the famous Lous Pibous. The only difference (afaik!) is that Lous Pibous uses only new casks.
L’Encantada Lassalle 1991-2020 #8 (44,9%)
Nose: Very earthy and soil-like. Forest honey, wood or salty popcorn would be other associations. It is very good but the 1990 distillate seems to be much better and way more mellow.
Palate: Very woody, salty and cask driven. Varnish and bitter oranges/ walnuts is what I am picking up as well.
Finish: Woody and slightly bitter with the walnut/ orange oil.
It clearly has the same profile as the 1990 but it is too bitter, with too much of the cask. (83/100)
L’Encantada Lassalle 1990-2020 #46 (48,1%)
Nose: Very nice with pastry/ Baklava, glue, raisins, honey, very mellow, caramel, toffee, sweet popcorn. Later also a sour note.
Palate: Ever so slightly sharp and more woody than the nose suggested with cardboard, popcorn, falafel as well as sweet-sour notes.
Finish: Straight and flatening. The major downside compared to the 1991 but it is still good. (84/100)
L’Encantada Mounet 1982-2020 #13 (44,6%)
Nose: Super weird. A mix of vinegar, acidic pineapple and lots of esters. Strange stuff – very “rummy” like Jamaica esters, just that this is not really good.
Palate: Again, plenty of vinegar and quite Jamaican. I get apple vinegar and ginger beer. What’s worth mentioning is that it’s not very woody.
Finish: Just as strange and more of the same.
This one gets a pass from me. (73/100)
L’Encantada La Frêche 1990-2020 #49 (52,4%)
Nose: Very Bourbon-y with lots of glue, caramel, cinnamon, mineral oil, bread, but also hints of tar and more dirty notes that kinda make me think of a certain rum distillery.
Palate: Huh!? Tar, engine oil, bacon, caramel, coffee, papaya You know which distillery I have been talking about, right!? Caroni, of couse. It is clearly Armagnac, but with a profile that inevitably makes you think Caroni, even if it is only their light style rum.
Finish: Just right, my kind of Armagnac
Absolutely amazing juice. If you have been ignoring Armagnac for all the wrong reasons, this one really punishes you, my rum friend. (91/100)
L’Encantada Lous Mouracs 1983 35YO #15 (50,1%)
Nose: Hazelnut galore. Wow. Then honey, apples, toffee, caramel, sugar and white nougat. It is quite good and so much better than the 1979.
Palate: Hazelnut again, dough, caramel, honey, white nougat, sweet candied apple, cinnamon, vanilla and pepper. Yup, I like this.
Finish: More of the same. i.e. an extension of the palate.
This one is very good. (86/10)
L’Encantada Lous Mouracs 1979 39YO #3 (50,1%)
Nose: Ulta concentrated. Sweet, woody. Gorp, nuts, coffee, foul strawberry, old Sherry. Later a pronounced bitterness and a hint of vinegar.
Palate: Again, very concentrated but too acidic, slightly too bitter, with gorp (but no hazelnut), wood and nuts. It is a bit like a very bad Versailles.
Finish: Long, woody, acidic.
This one is just strange and while similar in its general profile to the 1983, it is far away from matching its quality. (78/100)
L’Encantada Lous Pibous 1993-2019 (53,8%)
Nose: Sour and sharp with acidic notes and plenty of vinegar. Then sour pineapple, dill, wood and caramel. I know that this sounds weird but it is certainly interesting.
Palate: The integration of the alcohol isn’t the best. I get wheat, corn, oak, caramel and not too much Armagnac. Not sure why this one is such a crowd favorite.
Finish: Somewhat long with more wheat, flour and oak. Well…
Solid stuff, but Lous Pibous can get a lot better. I think you just have to like this particular profile. (86/100)
L’Encantada Lous Pibous 1996-2018 (49,8%)
Nose: Quite grapey and dark with lots off wood and dark stone fruits. I don’t know why but somehow this doesn’t really fit into the rest of the Pibous range. Multi grain bread perhaps.
Palate: Relatively sweet and herbal. It reminds me of high quality French herbal liqueuers. Lemon and Lemon tart, lots of wood and exceedingly dry.
Finish: More of the dry notes and wood, slightly bitter.
Better than what people say, but judged by the greatness of the other Pibous, it is still somewhat of a disappointment. (83/100)
L’Encantada Lous Pibous 2004-2020 (55,7%)
Nose: I get fat (Bacond and butter), Bourbon, corn, pickles and wheat. I think it is amazing and probably better than any Bourbon I know. I like that this is pretty much distillate driven, unlike many other Armagnacs.
Palate: Just like the nose. Noteworthy additions would be pepper, mixed fruit jam and caramel
Finish: Now more wood and spices, as well as hint of old Calvados perhaps.
A darn good Armagnac and the perfect demonstration that the spirit doesn’t have to be old to be great. (89/100)