Whoohoo! What a week this is going to be! Tons of stuff arriving within the next few days – a whole month's worth in a matter of days. First off, our second batch of Armagnac from our trip last January just hit earlier this afternoon. Here's the scoop:
2000 Domaine d'Ognoas Vintage Bas-Armagnac $55.99 - For all the traveling we do to Scotland, and now France, it's very, very, very rare that we find a value-priced spirit of quality for our K&L exclusive collection. Usually, it's simply better to pay the extra $25 and just go with something older. That logic has held true almost 100% of the time until we happened upon Domaine d'Ognoas distillery in Armagnac last January. As a property that's been in existence since the 1200's, Ognoas spends much of its time as an agricultural school and a training ground for young distillers. Because of their status as a "co-op" of sorts, the operation is partly subsidized by the French government, which means the prices are insanely low! Lucky us! Ognoas uses local trees for their cooperage and puts a medium toast on the barrel for a kiss of sweetness in the brandy. The 2000 vintage is a blend of 30% Folle Blance and 70% Ugni Blanc. On the nose, aromas of pencil wood, vanilla, and marzipan come brimming out of the glass. The palate is all dark fruit and soft cocoa, with spicy notes on the long, dry finish. For about $50 I don't think there's any amount of this we can't sell. It's easily the best value we've ever found spirits-wise across the Atlantic. For anyone even remotely interested in experiencing a taste of our new French spirits import program, this is a must-buy. Now I just hope we can get more!
1987 Chateau Pellehaut K&L Exclusive Tenareze Vintage Armagnac $79.99 - While Bas-Armagnac gets all the press, and the Haut-Armagnac gets completely ignored, the Tenareze region of Armagnac is quietly producing some of the best brandies in the world. Much like the Borderies region in Cognac, the Tenareze brandies seem to have more fruit and a bit more life than the more classic Armagnac style. We visited Chateau Pellehaut on our first day in Armagnac last January and were completely overwelmed by the quality of spirit. Using only new or first fill barrels for the beginning years of maturation, the Armagnacs have richness, weight, and spice. The 1987 vintage was one of the most attractive brandies we tasted on the trip, or what we would call a "sexy" spirit. There are gobs of fruit coming on the entry with a Bourbon-like spiciness that gently permeates the rest of the palate. Beautiful concentration and a fantastic finish of toasted nuts with more round stonefruit make this one of the most accessible Armagnacs we've ever carried. Pound for pound, I'm not sure any brandy under $100 can hang with this.
1973 Chateau Pellehaut K&L Exclusive Tenareze Vintage Armagnac $129.99 - While Bas-Armagnac gets all the press, and the Haut-Armagnac gets completely ignored, the Tenareze region of Armagnac is quietly producing some of the best brandies in the world. Much like the Borderies region in Cognac, the Tenareze brandies seem to have more fruit and a bit more life than the more classic Armagnac style. We visited Chateau Pellehaut on our first day in Armagnac last January and were completely overwelmed by the quality of spirit. Using only new or first fill barrels for the beginning years of maturation, the Armagnacs have richness, weight, and spice. While Pellehaut has since switched to entirely Folle Blanche grape varietals, the 1973 vintage is composed of 90% ugni blanc. The palate opens with loads of caramel and a creamy richness the spreads quickly. The aromas are quite Bourbon-esque, with hints of soft vanilla and charred oak drifting out of the glass. The complexity of the brandy is astounding - candied fruit, stewed prunes, toasted almond, baking spices, and earthy warehouse notes, all swirling around at the same time. For an Armagnac of this quality, at an age of nearly 40 years old, the price we negotiated is amazing. I'm expecting this to be one of our best selling Armagnacs ever and I expect it to really put Pellehaut on the map stateside.
Meanwhile, I tasted with Todd from Pacific Edge today and my friends the Morrisons over at A.D. Rattray have really outdone themselves, it seems. Next week we'll be bringing in their fantastic Bank Note Blended Scotch for $19.99 a liter!!!!! Now, granted, some of you high-browed single malt drinkers out there might not even flinch about something like this, but trust me, anyone interested in pouring a whisky on the rocks is going to have a new house bottle - forever. At this price and for whisky this drinkable, I can't see anyone coming close to touching the Bank Note. The sherry influence is there, soft vanilla and all that, and the grain comes clean on the finish like any other blend. However, with 40% actual single malt inside each bottle, the supple richness is much more lengthy than say Walker Black or any other comparable blend. I'm buying loads of this. If the public won't touch it, believe me, K&L staff members will be happy to have it all for themselves.
There's also a new "blended single malt" called the Islay Cask soming in for around $50. It's mainly Laphroaig and it tastes like Laphroaig, soft, supple, bright peaty notes, high-toned baking spices, all that. Plus, the a fantastic new 20 year old Bunnahabhain single cask that really delivers for about $120.
Oh yeah, and I haven't even gotten to all the new Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte, and Octomore coming tomorrow. I'll have to address that when it arrives!