Armagnac: Séailles

Séailles from Ténarèze today, one of those amazing Armagnac domaines we haven’t even heard of until a year ago or so. It is just crazy how much high quality spirit is produced down there that is still flying under almost everyone’s radar. For some reason I have a feeling that this will not last for that much longer, after all too much work is currently been done on that front (not least thanks to our buddies from Grape of the Art and Nevertheless, I highly doubt that we will reach a similar status compared to Rum or Whisky anytime soon, which makes it a relatively cool time to be into Armagnac I think: It is becoming increasingly easy to explore, there is plenty of amazing Yak to discover, prices are still alright and there is absolutely no hassle required to get that one bottling you really want to have (with a few exceptions of course). And Séailles embodies these traits like no other.
We have done this session completely blindly by the way, not knowing what the domaine(s) is (are) and actually not even knowing which spirit we are tasting. While the spirit was clear right away, we just couldn’t believe that the following Armagnacs all stem from the same domaine. As you are about to see, their profiles are as diverse as they can be.

Grape of the Art Séailles 2000 20YO (54%) : Nose: You don’t have to tell me that you cannot smell salt but this one is salty. Think about that wooden ship’s plank we find in some Port Mourants or those lighter salty peanut notes we might get with Albion. Then iodine, a mixed bag of tropical fruits and a rather nice and musty, almost Rancio-like note. Pretty cool stuff. Palate: A lot fruitier than the nose but still with those dry, now dusty notes. Antique furniture meets ripe banana, salted chocolate, Rum-soaked raisins and a mix of nuts. Here and there also the freshness of a ripe apple. While it is not the oldest Yak of the bunch, the maturity is spot on I think. Finish: Short to medium long with apples, chocolate and black tea. Way to go. (87/100)

Séailles 1990 30YO #68 (50%): Ugni Blanc. Nose: We get some glue, a mix of foul apples and pears as well as quite some wood. It feels a bit too alcoholic for my liking but the profile isn’t too bad. Later spices (pepper, nutmeg), pomace, hay and more vegetal notes. Palate: Much smoother than the palate. We still get those apples from the nose, but they are much closer to sweet applesauce now. Then caramel, green apples and oak. It kinda tastes like a mix of J.Bally and Demerara Rum, but is one a bit more fruity than those. I wouldn’t have guessed its age by the way, I have to admit. It really does smell and taste much younger than what you’d expect from a thirty year old spirit. Finish: Medium long with chocolate, raisins, apples and oak. Very solid. (83/100)

Grape of the Art Séailles 1988 32YO (50%): Nose: Very dry, bitter and woody. The cask was very active and definitely dominates the Yak. Wood, spices, cocoa, coffee and dust are words I’d use to describe the profile. I think this might be one that’s driven by the palate and less so by the nose but let’s see. Palate: Very woody with chocolate/ cocoa, coffee, many bitter notes, bitter oranges, walnuts, a sweet soft bun and different spices. In terms of Rum, this kinda reminds me of old Versailles “KFM” – wood water par excellence! The texture is very mellow and the second and third sip even reveal some minor fruity notes such as apples or apricots. Finish: Medium long and woody with apple cinnamon and oak. Cool stuff, but certainly not made for everyone. (86/100)

Séailles 1986 34YO #3 (58%): Nose: Dry and woody. Once again, we find quite a few dusty notes such as old wood, a cellar that hasn’t been entered for some time or that old cardboard we’ve just opened. Deeper in the glass more maritime notes (think seaweed, saltwater) or brine, olives, herbs and mocha. A bit too dusty for my liking if you know what I mean. Palate: Still dusty and woody, but also more fruity than the nose. That seems to be a common theme for these Séailles. Cocoa, peanuts, pepper, oak and Rancio are my main impressions. It is very direct and powerful, something that’s quite odd in a way as we typically only get this type of profile from old and low abv Yaks. Finish: Cocoa, hazelnuts, chocolate and oak stay with me for a while. A very good one, where only the nose was a bit disappointing. In Rum-terms, this would be a Caroni, just one without a great nose. (88/100)

Séailles 1986 34YO #4 (57%): Nose: Similar to #3 but a bit lighter and maybe a tad fruitier in style. Also some more dirty notes (think Caroni with its scrapyard again). Besides that, there really isn’t much to add as these Yaks just don’t want to open up fully I think. Palate: Much, much sweeter than #3. Peaches, wood, strawberries even, oak and only a hint of cocoa. These barrels are so different from one-another, you would never expect it to be from the same vintage. Finish: Medium long with a mix of berries, cocoa, grapes and oak. Nothing fancy, but it supports the palate. I definitely prefer the more dirty style of #3 and going back to that one, I can now also identify marginally sweet notes in it. Still proper juice. (84/100)

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