It’s been almost two and a half years since my last Armagnac review. I think that’s a pretty good allegory of how my almost-love affair with brandy has gone in the last few years. I’d say that it’s a pretty good allegory of how the average whisky geek’s relationship with brandy has gone in that period as well, but that would be too presumptuous. Maybe it’s because Sku retired his blog but it hasn’t felt for a while that whisky geeks are still excited about brandy in general and Armagnac in particular. Am I wrong? (And if not, is that true of rum as well?) Well, to tell the truth, it’s not that I haven’t been buying any Armagnac in the last two and a half years—it’s more that I don’t seem to get around to opening any of what I have bought. Maybe I should do that before buying any more. Speaking of which, I was going to buy a bottle of this K&L exclusive Baraillon, but when I was in L.A recently, Sku suggested I taste a sample first and passed one on to me (along with a few others). Let’s see if I should have ignored him.
Baraillon 33, 1985 (46%; K&l exclusive; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Quite bourbonny with caramel, cinnamon and dried orange peel. Starts getting brighter almost immediately and the oak becomes quite apparent—and by “oak” I mean pencil shavings. A drop of water pushes the oak back.
Palate: Alas, the initial richer notes from the nose aren’t here. The overall impression is of thinness, both of flavour and texture. It’s not tannic but it’s too oak-driven for my liking. With time some sweeter notes show up (cherry, cola) but it’s still pretty oaky. Let’s see what water does. It pushes the oak back here too and makes the whole spicier.
Finish: Medium-long. The oak is a little more bitter here (but also more interesting) with some leafy notes mixed in. With time there’s some chicory and some coffee grinds. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is pleasant enough but not as good as the 30 yo from a few years ago. Glad I took the hint and passed on a bottle.
Rating: 83 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!