Okay, it’s not clear if more than three people are still reading my whisky reviews so let’s do a week of brandy. First up, a Lous Pibous from armagnac indie darlings, L’Encantada. I’m no armagnac maven—and nor do I follow these releases closely—but Lous Pibous seems to be the big name among actual armagnac mavens. A number of casks of Pibous have made it to the US in recent years, showing up as exclusives at various stores around the country. And since they’re all (?) single casks they inspire the kind of devotional comparative assessment that you can only expect from whisky geeks—which is basically what all the new brandy mavens in the US started out as. What’s the point of drinking something, they seem to say, if you can’t do a line-up of 12 sibling casks and rank them vis a vis one another? This particular single cask was not bottled by a store but was a personal selection by a member of a brandy club, I think. Or at least so Sku—who is the source of the sample with an uncharacteristically legible label—told me. I believe it has a very strong reputation. I’ve previously reviewed a few other L’Encantada Pibous—including two more 1996s (here and here)—and if this is as good as those I’ll be pleased. Let’s see if it is.
Lous Pibous 22, 1996 (56.2%; L’Encantada; cask 151; from a sample from a friend
Nose: Rich and jammy with cherries, raisins, plum and orange peel. All of it stirred with a big stick of cinnamon. On the second sniff there’s a nice oak frame around the fruit—not tannic, just slightly spicy. With time the oak gets more polished and there’s a lot apricot in the mix with the orange peel. A few drops of water and the fruit bursts forth anew: apricot, marmalade, fig jam, mango leather.
Palate: Drier arrival with the oak up top—drying but not tannic here either—and the fruit coming up from below, followed again by the oak. Very approachable at full strength. The fruit is brighter on the second sip—orange, a touch of apricot—and then bitter notes begin to emerge leading into the finish. The oak expands as it sits, Okay, let’s see what water does. It pushes the oak back and pulls out more of the fruit: more marmalade and apricot jam here along with a leathery note.
Finish: Long. The rich fruit yields first to leather and then earth and finally very dark chocolate. Oakier here too with time. As on the palate with water plus damp earth again at the very end.
Comments: This is rather lovely stuff with excellent balance between the oak and the fruit and good development with time and water. A brandy you could spend a lot of time with.
Rating: 90 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!