Having noted that I’ve been buying Armagnac but not actually opening very many of those bottles, here is one that I purchased just about a month ago and have now opened. While Sku suggested that I try the Baraillon 33 before buying, this one he recommended highly. It is one of several K&L exclusives (I think) bottled last year. L’Encatada, as far as I can make out, are a sort of independent bottler of Armagnacs, purchasing barrels from small producers—which are legion in the world of Armagnac—and making them more widely available. Prices for Armagnac are slowly rising—it wasn’t that long ago that K&L sold a 30 year old Baraillon for $80; now the 33 year old that I reviewed last week is going for $125. And this Bidets (which is still available) is at $140. Then again, compared to the world of Scotch whisky and bourbon this is still a great value for the age. However, the value for the age doesn’t mean a whole lot (as with the Baraillon 33) if what’s in the bottle isn’t anything to write home about. Let’s see if I like this one more.
Les Bidets 35, 1982 (47%; L’Encantada; from my own bottle)
Nose: A lovely blend of orange peel, honey, apricot and oak. Gets sweeter as it sits (apple, a bit of cherry?). Gets stickier still as it sits. A couple of drops of water soften it up and bring out notes of buttery pie-crust.
Palate: Sweet here too, and all the other stuff from the nose is here too, but it’s brighter on the whole with more oak and increasing spice (cinnamon, clove). Water pushes the oak back and brings out the softer notes here too. As it sits again, notes of sandalwood emerge.
Finish: Long. The oak keeps going but it’s not tannic; the fruit shows up again at the end. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This cost a lot more than I usually spend on bourbon but it also delivers most of what I look for in bourbon with good balance of oak, fruit and spice. Very vibrant for a 35 yo spirit, though it doesn’t have quite the complexity or development of a good single malt of comparable age (though, as noted, good luck finding a good single malt of comparable age for a comparable price). I liked it better with a bit of water.
Rating: 89 points.
Thanks to Sku for the recommendation!