Let’s keep brandy week going with another armagnac and another sample from Sku (who seems to have entered a very conventional period in his label making career). If Monday’s review was of a bottling by an upstart indie of an armagnac from an obscure domaine, today’s is of a release from a very established name: Dartigalongue. The business was established in the 19th century and has remained in the founding family ever since. Like Delord—another established name—Dartigalongue has long been available in the US as well. I remember being intrigued by some old releases at very reasonable seeming prices (compared to single malt) at a Binny’s store in Chicago some years ago. But brandy mavens didn’t seem very high on them and I resisted pulling the trigger: old spirits at reasonable prices are only good values if what’s in the bottle is also actually good. (The same was true of Delord, by the way, and as it turns out, I’ve been very underwhelmed by the Delords I’ve tried.) This release was a special selection by Seelbach’s, an online store that focuses on craft producers. I’m not entirely sure if Dartigalongue quite qualify as a craft producer anymore but it’s also not a point I want to litigate. Let’s see what it’s like.
Dartigalongue 23, 1996 (45.4%; cask 429; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Orange peel off the top (in orange liqueur territory) and some raisins. Some oak in the background but it’s not very obtrusive; not much of anything else though. Let’s give it some time/air. Gets a bit brighter as it sits and there’s a bit of pencil lead; the oak is a bit more perfumed too now. With more time there’s some stickier fruit (apricot). Water softens it further and melds the oak with the fruit.
Palate: More oak here along with the orange peel. The texture is fine but there’s no real depth of flavour. I let it sit for a while before taking the second sip and now it’s a little richer but there’s still not a whole lot here other than oak and orange peel. Not much change here with time. Less oak with a few drops of water but nothing interesting emerges.
Finish: Medium-long. Nothing new here; gets oakier and spicier as it goes. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is decent and drinkable enough but not much more. I liked the nose neat and with water but the palate didn’t have much to recommend it. Bourbon drinkers and people who like oak-forward brandies will probably like this more.
Rating: 83 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample.