Tasting Notes


© F. Paul Pacult
The following reviews appeared in the September 2018 issue of F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal

ratingsNew Brandy Reviews

COGNAC & GRAPE EAU-DE-VIE – FRANCE

Martell VS Single Distillery Cognac
40% abv, $33.
Sandy brown color; superb clarity. I like the opening aroma, which is tart yet ripe and engagingly fruity with perfumed scents of kiwi, pomelo, and white grapefruit; further air contact heightens the tartness as the fruit layer leans more towards white grapes and grapefruit now, remaining fresh and vigorous for the entire second stage of inhalation. Entry is dry and toffee-like at the same time, giving off a menu of flavors that include oak resins, white raisins, candied walnut, and apple rind; midpalate takes a slightly different direction as the taste profile turns orchard fruit peel bitter and squeaky-clean astringent. Finishes tightly wound, lean, tart but not sour, and razor-edged.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Recommended

Martell Blue Swift Eau-de-Vie de Vin
VSOP Cognac Finished in Bourbon Barrels
40% abv, $45.
Mahogany/auburn color; flawlessly pure. The first inhalations pick up brown butter-like aromas that are toasty, plush, and bakery shop bittersweet; later whiffs detect notes of lead pencil, shale, lanolin, and vanilla flavored custard/flan. Entry is intensely oaky/woody, as well as tight, bean-like (cacao especially), and deeply raisiny and prune-like; midpalate largely echoes the entry, adding more volume to the creamy texture, as well as more developed baking spices, namely clove, mace, and cinnamon. Aftertaste is firm in structure, resiny/oily, densely spiced (now vanilla and clove), and attractively bittersweet. Good idea for a twist on cognac and it’s pulled off well.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Highly Recommended

Monteru Single Grape Chardonnay Brandy
41.3% abv, $35.
Citrine/straw yellow color; excellent clarity. I like the buttermilk biscuit-like initial aroma that’s buttery, cooking oil-like, and pie crust-like; secondary inhalations reinforce the first whiffs by actually doubling down on the bakery dough aspect and the creamery butter while introducing a beeswax quality that’s ripe and fruity. Entry features a waxy, oily texture that supports the dried fruit/white raisin core flavor; midpalate merges the various aspects into a singular flavor that’s ripe, succulent, and grape- and quince-like. Ends on a deeply ripe and grapy note.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Recommended

ARMAGNAC – FRANCE

Chateau du Tariquet Hors d’Age 52
Cask Strength Bas-Armagnac
52% abv, $150.
Rust color; pristine clarity. Oh my, the pipe tobacco-like, smoke shop opening aroma just blows me away with its uniqueness and complexity; further down the aeration path, the aroma expands to include hints of inner tube, dry stone, arid landscape, pine cone, and pine nut. Entry offers BIG flavors of buttermilk biscuit, praline, almond butter, honey, and stewed fruits; midpalate echoes the entry, adding tastes of oak-driven oils (lanolin, bacon fat, lard) that form the texture, making it thick and silky as the flavor profile turns tannic and earthily bitter. Aftertaste is long, dry, bitter, piquant, cocoa bean-like, and coffee cake-like. A highly complex Bas-Armagnac that’s worth the search.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Highly Recommended

Dartigalongue Hors d’Age Bas-Armagnac
40% abv, $62.
Cocoa brown color; flawless purity. First off, I pick up succulent aromas of brown butter, bacon fat, dried flowers, and muesli; secondary whiffs detect deeper aromas, namely honey, ginger, toasted oak, saltine cracker, and dried apricot. Entry features immediate impact tastes of dark honey, baked fruits (apricot, banana), baking spices (clove, cinnamon, vanilla), and toasted marshmallow; midpalate turns prune-like and raisiny as the taste profile shifts to a ripe and baked fruit posture that’s sweet and succulent. Finishes long, prune Danish-like, full in the mouth, and peppery. A session Bas-Armagnac that’s refined, mature, and ambrosial. Absolutely must be on your brandy wish list.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Highest Recommendation

Delord l’Authentique Bas-Armagnac
45.9% abv, $105.
Tawny/bronze color; superb purity. First nosing passes present me with oodles of baked fruits, in particular, pears and pineapple, as well as earthier scents of cooking oil, oak 2×4, mace, and lead pencil; further aeration stimulates deeper, wood-tinged fragrances of maple fudge, resin, and unsalted brown butter. Entry soars with roasted/toasted oak and fruit flavors, especially baked pear, and presents a focused taste profile that’s rich in texture and almost rum-like in flavor intensity; midpalate is this brandy’s pinnacle moment as the aspects identified in the latter bouquet stage and the entry merge into a singular flavor that’s baked, fruity, bittersweet, caramelized, peppery, and sinewy in texture. Concludes extra long in the throat, honeyed, raisiny, and perfectly proportioned. A Delord touchstone moment.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Highest Recommendation

Marie Duffau 1979 Bas-Armagnac
45.5% abv, $110.
Chestnut brown color; ideal clarity. There’s a delightful pastry-like juiciness, similar to apple strudel, to this opening aroma that’s fetching and deeply satisfying; secondary inhalations reach a more defined point as the aroma opens up with more air contact, exposing fragrances of peanut butter, candied almond, and baked pear. Entry is richly textured, brown sugar sweet, and loaded with oak notes, namely, vanilla bean, astringent tannins, and vegetable cooking oil; midpalate is tight as a drum, narrowly focused on the baked fruits and baking spices (allspice, mace), as well as the oak impact elements such as vanilla extract, oyster sauce, and charred meats. Concludes long, dense with oak impressions, and heavily toasted. Lovely all around.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Highly Recommended

BRANDY – SPAIN

Cardenal Mendoza
Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez
40% abv, $50.
The deep sepia/sienna color is perfectly sediment free. Initial nosing passes pick up mature, caramelized onion scents that are supported by dried fruit fragrances, especially dried pear, black raisins, and prune; secondary fragrance impressions include espresso bean, hot cocoa, treacle, marzipan, and chocolate covered coffee bean. Entry is savory, rich in texture but not syrupy, and bathed in raisiny dried fruit flavor; midpalate is dense, complex, and deeply pruny. Aftertaste is long in the throat, toasted, bittersweet, and earthy.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Highly Recommended

Cardenal Mendoza Carta Real
Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez
40% abv, $100.
Color is seal brown/cocoa bean; superbly clean. Vivid scents of raisins, figs, dates, and more raisins are evident in the first nosing passes after the pour; as this brandy aerates, the bouquet grows stately, composed, and deep in dried fruits, in particular, prunes and dates, yet it never loses the trademark grapiness that you want in great Brandy de Jerez. Entry is gracefully sweet/sour and even a tad spicy/peppery; midpalate is raisiny, pruny, one-pointed on the dried fruit and even a bit treacle-like. Concludes on a spicy, succulent note that’s different from its sibling. Decadent and lovely.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Highest Recommendation

Gran Duque de Alba
Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez
(Spain; Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, FL)
40% abv, $46.
Umber/sienna color; flawless purity. Immediately, I pick up deeply honey-like scents that are fruity (dates, figs), succulent, and intensely ripe; secondary inhalations detect dark chocolate and caramel notes that accentuate the dried fruits. Entry is elegant, juicy, plummy, and only moderately sweet; midpalate is more pruny and raisiny than plummy and loaded with other tastes such as pipe tobacco, BBQ sauce, charred meat (pork or beef brisket) and cocoa butter. Aftertaste is memorable for its length and depth and succulence. This brandy took off at midpalate to crescendo in the finish.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Highly Recommended

BRANDY – PORTUGAL

Mavem Grape Brandy
41% abv, $70.
Copper/burnt umber color; impeccably clean and clear. Initial nosing passes detect nut-like aromas especially walnut as well as butter brickle and pistachio; secondary whiffs pick up notes of saddle leather, sawdust, and pine cone. Entry features a deeply grapy/raisiny flavor that’s slightly burnt and caramelized; midpalate highlights the bittersweet character of the dried fruit element that carries over into the pleasing aftertaste.
Spirit Journal September 2018:
Recommended

© F. Paul Pacult
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