This, the first of three [bottle polishing] ‘Miscellaneous Misfits’ sessions, is an all-grape affair, starting with a budget armagnac or two.
Dupeyron VS [+/-2018] Ob. Vieil Armagnac 40% [1ltr]
- N: I’ve never had a poor armagnac, until now. I heard this one is aged over three years old. The nose conjures a frighteningly fictional concoction of Cinzano, Baby Cham & shoddy sake. Furthermore, the use of caramel colourant appears to have been administered by the bucket-load.
- T: Some bog-standard vermouth/Cinzano action, waxy fruity juices and heaps of E150,..a,. b?
- F: Waxed apples, take away the apples.
- C: The Diamond White of larger or the Country Manor of wine perhaps, this unfinishable armagnac duly goes for peanuts at auction.
No score [way under 75]
If at first you don’t succeed,….
Janneau 5yo [+/-2018] Ob. Grand Armagnac 40% [50cl] WF75
Unusually for an armagnac, the front label states this one as ‘Double Distilled’.
- N: For starters, this is way better than ‘not terrible’ – so that’s that negative [or at least wary] preconception out the way. Pleasing enough, there’s something very cocktail-like about this,.. and genever-esque no less, gradually displaying pepper-seasoned bitter ~ < sweet lemon-y/melon, powdered ginger into juicy wild Mirabelle plums, single malt-like raisins, apples in various stages of ripeness & cooked-ness, and a very faint yet desirable earthy tannic fustiness. The last dram of the bottle offers, out of the blue, candid peppered strawberries,…. and there-in lies the subtle joys of armagnac.
- T: Neat, the arrival is slightly sharp/soft-crisp, so add a little water [in mouth preferred]. Delivering lightly [saline & <] pepper-seasoned summer fruits, this is a spirit that seems to sit in-between many branches of the spirits tree [young malt, gin?, rum, tequila,.. yep], helped, no doubt, by the [fruity] cask-derived vanilla.
- F: A nice enough short-medium tart-sweet tannic finish with lemon, ginger, orange peel,… toasted vanilla,.. Finding this genever-like again, slightly tequila-esque [again],.. and yet cask-y [again] at the end, helps provide further malty illusions.
- C: Certainly a malternative of sorts, especially when you consider – aside from the age statement – that a bottle will currently set you back [at Asda] just £15.68. You never know, you might find yourself choosing this over a Famous Grouse [WLP78-76] or a NAS White & Mackay [WLP75] next time you’re looking for a bottle on a budget.
Scores 76 points
Staying with the distilled grape, we’ve a cognac [brandy made in Cognac].
Unless there are any significant changes, this’ll be my third [and last] review of this fine cognac for a while yet.
- N: Let’s start with that almost archetypal cherry [and sweet redcurrant, raspberry & mulberry] conserve note, coupled with a grape-fresh/fustiness and subtle coppery fatiness,… The Chesterfields and bookcases aren’t far behind, suggesting both youth and maturity lie within. In short, a plethora of delights lay in wait to reward to patiently curious.
- T: Without too many abv quibbles this time around, the relaxed yet crisp arrival and subsequent travel is every bit as pleasing as the nose. The bitter-sweet bite [& tussle] within the sheer scintillating balance between sugars & acidity, is where this one’s skills/talent lie. Furthermore, as is the general case with quality cognac/brandy [and armagnac], the oak always serves to promote the grape spirit and is rarely obtrusive.
- F: Lingers long and true with plenty of head nodding from beginning to end.
- C: Having reviewed this as many times as bottles I’ve enjoyed, this quality & affordable [but shop around] Grande Champagne remains an old faithful. As a result, it’s the same score as before and before that.
Scores 89 points
More cognac [from Cognac].
Tiffon Reserve de la Famille  Ob./Chateau De Triac 40% [20cl]
I’ve reviewed this before too, [as have Serge88 and Ralfy92], but some time before I started whiskylovingpianist.com. Aside from the usual suspects from the big four houses [Hennessy, Martell, Courvoisier, and Rémy Martin], this was really my first ‘proper’ cognac and was one of the highlights of the Whisky Lounge Weekender 2014 when this ‘too cool for school’ festival was at the Oval Space before it [confusingly] moved to the Oval cricket ground! These 20cl bottles sat around the £25-35 mark in shops at the time, which isn’t a lot when you consider the juice inside is aged between 40-60 years old. I simply had to open another [small] bottle to have as a comparison between the previous Guillion and the brandy to come.
- N: Subtle, beautiful, and clearly far-far older than the Guillon-Painturaud with a denser/impacted [orange/mandarin/satsuma/sweet lemon juice] fruitiness. From there, given time, come layer after layer of bountiful aromas. but if rushed, can simply seem like yet just another decent-standard cognac/armagnac.
- T: Profoundly [playfully~provocatively] edgy-soft [juicy-citrus] > sour~sultana > raisin > malty-ish arrival with subtle breadth, even at 40% – it just means you can’t play around with too much water. Bitter-sour tannins may play out on the turn.
- F: The finish is short yet lingering followed by yet more shopping list subtleties, varied mouthfeels,… suggestives that suggest some subjectivity is creeping in,… With favourable gingery fungal/grainy/fruity damp stuff, unlike my previous encounter, I really don’t find this too woody – especially in light of the upcoming ‘whisky-fied’ brandy.
- C: This isn’t one to rush, that’s for sure. It’s a very good cognac from the old school [way before the ‘old skool’]. Full bottles are still available for around €120-140.
Scores 88 points.
We finish today’s session with an undisclosed brandy.
Thompson Brothers Brandy 1993 27yo Ob. ‘Early Landed, Late Bottled’ [409 bts] 52.3%
Wow, I’m on a second bottle already?! The first bottle I found as follows:
- N: A scrumptious fruity vanilla-y cask-y & abv-driven powerhouse of a nose that offers up the kind of grimy, ‘organic’/vegetal-fauna, salty < waxy~fatty, industrial layers that I – and many maltheads – have a tendency to lean towards. Succeeding the Tiffon, there’s a clear-as-day coconut-y grain/rum-likeness which wasn’t as apparent before side by-side comparisons with the two previous cognac’s. Now that observation can’t be unseen/un-smelt. No problem. Lovely nose.
- T: With a powerfully adrenalised arrival & journey, this isn’t your ‘traditionally presented/old-school’ brandy, that’s for sure. Water in the mouth isn’t quite enough to tame the zing, but what a zing it is. Even water in glass can’t [at first] stop the bullseye-focused spiciness, but tinkering in time eventually leads to an acute chewy middle with a sweet-sour citrus succulence, coupled with a flor-like citrus dryness. Indeed, with a lot of water, we begin to peel back to the grape spirit essence even though the cask’s influence is ever-present.
- F: Fresh yet gacky [tannic/creamy] damp-oaky-fusty fruity vanilla-y finish,… and, from a Whisky Loving Pianist’s perspective, with a grape-y mashy maltiness. That’s followed by a slightly molasses-y rum-iness on the one hand, yet conversely, with a Hampden [Trelawny, Jamaica] likeness on the other. And then there’s that vermouth-like bitterness. Are we then, that far from a Negroni or a Sidecar?
- C: If Foursquare were to make and/or present/bottle brandy, perhaps it would smell & taste a little like this. It’s certainly not the definitively composed article of the Guillon-Painturaud, and lacks the subtle delicacy of the Tiffon, but as a whisky lover who isn’t adversed to oaky-aged abv-driven spirits, this tickles my fancy enough to order a second bottle. In truth, I was rather won over by the nose alone, initially overlooking the rest somewhat. Taking into account the rest:
Scores 87 points
In part #2 [HERE}, we’ve everything from [1970/80s?] madeira to 40yo port, and from Pisco to Kilchoman’s Bramble liqueur.