Still the One

Despite all the amazing producers we've met, the fantastic expressions we've imported, the interesting casks we've dug up, and all the wonderful stories we've told about their initial discovery, I still have to say that the most exciting Armagnac we carry at K&L (maybe at any price) is the Darroze 20 Year Assemblage (which is not part of our K&L Exclusive program). I just popped a bottle of Marc's latest batch and it's incredibly consistent with what I remember previous editions tasting like. When I say "most exciting", I mean this is the Armagnac that will get you to stand up, take notice, and really give this whole brandy thing another look. If you don't like the Darroze 20 Ans d'Age, then you won't like any mature Armagnac—period. This will be the only bottle you'll ever have to purchase to figure out whether or not you're going to delve deeper into a genre we're continuing to focus upon.

The Darroze 20 is not only incredibly accessible, it's still utterly traditional in style. There's more sweet oak on the nose than most Armagnacs we carry—a very Bourbon-esque bouquet of toasted wood and brown sugar—but it never materializes to that same extent on the palate. The flavors are rich, but spicy, dusty, and dry on the finish. It almost teases you into thinking it's pure Kentucky, then tricks you on the back end with a litheness that could only be Armagnac; and nothing more. If you're unfamiliar with Marc Darroze's operation, he's an independent bottler and distiller for the region, who is often the only avenue for certain chateaux. Marc offers many landowners free distillation in exchange for a percentage of their haul. In some cases, certain properties wouldn't even get harvested or distilled were Marc not the one offering to do so. Through this model he has acquired a wealth of incredible Armagnac stock—both young and old—from which he can bottle by estate, or use to blend into more harmonious expressions. The Darroze 20 constitutes the latter; an incredibly balanced Armagnac, comprised of various properties, that covers all the basics and remains polished all the way through.

If you need an analogy to help clarify further, the Darroze 20 is the Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch of the Armagnac world. Not the oldest, not the flashiest, and not the most coveted of the category, but perhaps the best tasting year after year. And it still holds up today. If you didn't land a bottle of BTAC or Pappy this year, I can tell you this with a straight face: for my own personal drinking, I'd rather have one bottle of Darroze 20 than any of the rare Bourbons on today's market. It's really, really, really good Armagnac.

We've got it back in stock if you're curious:

Darroze Les Grand Assemblages "20 Year Old" Bas-Armagnac $99.99- Absolutely stunning Armagnac with incredible richness, spice, and balance. I can't say it enough, so I'll say it again: every Bourbon drinker who's out there chasing things like Pappy 20 or BMH 16 should be stocking up on things like this instead. Or maybe I shouldn't say that because the people who actually drink Armagnac regularly will get pissy. In any case, this is a slam dunk spirit. Big wood, lots of spice and vanilla, and a rustic fruit character with seamless execution. My new favorite brandy for the moment.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll