Okay, here’s another brandy. This is not Armagnac, however; it’s Cognac, Armagnac’s more worldly cousin, the one who gets into all the clubs. I know little about Armagnac and I know even less about Cognac: only that the stuff that’s widely available is considered by aficionados to be inferior, usually artificially goosed-up brandy designed to appeal to people who just want something easy to like. God, I sound like an asshole. Anyway, small estate Cognac is said to be very different and this is an instance of small estate Cognac. The “Lot 70” in the name apparently signifies that this was distilled in 1970; as it was bottled just last year that means it is 47-48 years old. It was bottled for Flask, a store in California and it seems to still be available. The price is not low but if it’s good and if you’re looking for something very old then it is, again, affordable compared to single malt whisky of much lower age. And as I am Lot 70 myself, it might be hard for me to resist a bottle if I do in fact like this a lot. Let’s see how it goes.
As you can tell from the sample label, this too came to me from Sku.
Vallein Tercinier, Lot 70 (52%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Ah, lovely: apricot jam, orange peel, leather, brandied raisins. As it sits there are tropical fruit notes (mango, dried pineapple). Gets richer and stickier as it sits. A couple of drops of water and the oak gets pushed back while a big wave of toffee and buttery pastry crust emerge.
Palate: Starts out oaky but then the fruit pops behind the wood as I swallow—it’s the tropical notes that are dominant here. The oak is present but only provides a frame. Wonderfully drinkable at full strength—almost no alcohol bite and nice viscosity. The fruit expands with every sip. Water actually pulls out a bit of oak on the palate at first but the fruit brightens up and expands behind it: papaya, peach and some berries too.
Finish: Medium. The fruit and oak fade out slowly; the oak has the last word, getting spicier as it goes: cinnamon at the very end. As on the palate with water. With more time the oak gets a bit sharper.
Comments: This is a whisky drinker’s Cognac. It nosed like an old Longmorn and after a brief oaky start on the palate reminded me of one there too. Just lovely! Is this really 48 years old? The oak is so restrained and the fruit so vibrant. And compared to the price of an old Longmorn or any other malt with a similar profile, this is very good value. Get one if you can; I’ve placed my order.
Rating: 91 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!