Cognac, Armagnac, brandy, what-have-you! If it's grape-based and barrel-aged, then it all falls into this category and here are our picks for Brandy of the Year 2010.
David D picks: Marie & Fils 58 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac - I can't remember if I've EVER been excited about Cognac, a spirit that seems destined to be forever limited to "smooth." Then Nic Palazzi walked in and said, "Try this." Being a big bourbon fan, Palazzi wanted to bottle his Cognac like the American whiskies he tasted after moving to New York. The result is a Frenchman who gets the American palate - we want it unadulterated! This is all from 1951 and it's all one barrel! Only 257 world-wide. Easily the best of the year for me.
David OG picks: Chateau de Laubade Extra Bas-Armagnac - The most critically-acclaimed brandy of the year was also a hit with David OG. The depth of flavor had just about everyone who tasted it spellbound: rancio notes intermingled with sweet, fat, dripping textures of dried fruits flavors. A benchmark Armagnac for those who appreciate it, or an eye-opener for those who don't.
In other news today, I got to taste with Val and JVS again this morning as we went through some of the new Signatory bottlings.
From what I tasted, I thought the 1997 Clynelish was a sure standout, full of everything that makes it one of my favorite distilleries - wax, citrus fruits, and oily notes - but this one has a tropical/banana creaminess that really drew me in. I look forward to offering it along side the classic 14. The 16 year old Bladnoch also warmed me up as I look to constantly expand our Lowland selections beyond Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie, and the occasional defunct Rosebank bottling. This one had plenty of heather and a light, floral disposition. A perfect addition to the shelf. I also cleaned CVI out of their 19 year old Caol Ila Murray McDavid. I got a good price so instead of the old price ($129.99) I'm able to bring it down to $105.99. A great deal that I am sipping the rest of right now as I type!
Before we were done, being the nice guy he is, Val pulled out a sample of 1981 Brora Signatory Cask Strength - a whisky now long gone, but that I had really wanted to try. I've been on a Brora kick lately because I love Clynelish so much and Brora has all the goods with a pinch of smoke. I was so grateful to get a small taste of this: swirling stone fruits, salty oil and butter, peat in the background, but really hanging back, and a bit of heat on the finish as I didn't proof it down enough. Very, very good. Now that I've tasted two Broras in my lifetime, I'm definitely convinced that I love it.