More New Armagnac (and Cognac, too!)

We've just received another big drop of French spirits from the 2013 trip, so I thought I'd take some time to tell you about what's new. I've been very excited about getting the latest batch of Pellehaut Armagnacs, mainly because of the post about Armagnac's down-home appeal I wrote a week or so ago. I received a lot of feedback from people who were curious about Armagnac, but didn't think it represented as good of a value for the money as whiskey. That, or they didn't see anything exclusive from K&L that was in their price range. To be frank, young Armagnac will never be as inexpensive as Bourbon because of the agriculture involved. Grapes cost more than grains, that's just the reality of the situation, plus there's a lot of work that goes into making the wine and the fact that we have to import the bottles across the Atlantic. Then take into consideration the size and scale of these operations - these farmers can never make brandy in the volume that Kentucky produces whiskey, so their sliding scale costs are higher. When we start talking aged expressions, however, you go and find me another 30 year old spirit as good as our 1983 Pellehaut for $84.99. With this new shipment from Pellehaut, we now have three awesome expressions of Armagnac for well under $100. Let's talk about them, shall we? (NOTE: these are in our warehouse right now, but haven't yet made it to retail, meaning you can order them, but you can't pick them up today)

We've got three new selections from Chateau Pellehaut, which is a producer located in the Tenereze region of Armagnac. If you want a bit more info about them check our blog post here from this past March, and also this one here from 2012.

Chateau Pellehaut L'Age de Glace $27.99 - This is the one I've been most excited about receiving, not only because it's inexpensive, but because it's a young Armagnac meant for mixing and drinking with ice (hence the name "Ice Age"). The fruit of the brandy takes center stage here, melding wonderfully with the small hint of vanilla from the wood. It's all Folle Blanche and it's soft, round, fruity, but it still has that little bit of rustic brandy flavor that I associate with Armagnac. At 41%, it's light and easy going, but there's still a lot of character. I have a feeling I'll personally be going through bottles of this. Bottles.

1996 Chateau de Pellehaut K&L Exclusive Vintage Tenareze Armagnac $59.99 - Big, spicy, woody flavor explodes right off the bat from this 17 year old, 50.4% brandy. This is another crossover Armagnac, the one you'll want to buy if you like Bourbon and think Armagnac might be something you want to try. The raisiny fruit aspect of the Folle Blanche comes in on the finish, but this is all about the concentration of the wood and the spice. $60 for all this punch. And someone actually emailed me last week to say that most Armagnac was a rip-off! Come on, man!

1983 Chateau de Pellehaut K&L Exclusive Vintage Tenareze Armagnac $84.99 - Rich, dark-fruited flavors and barrel spices come fast, but the texture is soft and round on the palate. This 30 year old brandy was distilled from Ugni Blanc, but still clocks in at 47.8% despite three decades in wood. I can't imagine this guy hanging around for too long. It's just so far beyond any other mature spirit option we have right in terms of quality and price.

And then we've got our two new work horse Cognac expressions. These aren't quite as value-priced as the Pellehaut, but that's the difference between Cognac and Armagnac, isn't it? Despite the price tags, these are still exemplary brandies that represent the best of what we have to offer from Grande Champagne. As I wrote this past March, "They easily form one of the most polished GC collections I've ever tasted. Refined, rich, but elegant." You can read more about that here.

Putting age statements on your Cognac is a slippery slope when it comes to getting label approval (I know that some people do it, but I don't really think it's legal), so Ragnaud Sabourin decided to call these two No. 35 and No. 20. I'll leave it to you to figure out what those numbers represent.

Ragnaud Sabourin K&L Exclusive Reserve Speciale #20 Cognac $89.99 - Soft, round, with a seamless transition between vanilla and fruit, and a long, lasting finish. This is legit Cognac. It's the real deal. Nuanced enough to please the most seasoned aficionado, but polished enough to excite newcomers to the genre.

Ragnaud Sabourin K&L Exclusive Reserve Speciale #35 Cognac $169.99 - We bought a lot of this Cognac, despite the fact that it's $170. Normally, we're a bit more cautious with expensive booze (because with Cognac we're not obligated to take full casks, we can buy as little or as much as we want), but this Yak is just too good. We know that one sip is all it's going to take to create a number of return buyers. A 35 year old masterpiece of dried apricots, rich toffee, barrel spice, resinous oils, that finishes like velvet. Lord help me, I might drown myself in this shit.

These will be in stock at SF and RWC tomorrow, with our Hollywood store receiving their transfer later this week. And there's still more coming!!

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll