Blanche Armagnac – what is it and how does it taste ?
Before I move on to the main topic, I will start with a small digression. In addition to the explosion of whisky popularity, there has also been a slight revolution in the interest in gin. By some strange coincidence, the gin has not shone in Poland so far. For my argument, I will include gin among the “white” strong alcohols. There is also a growing interest in other alcohols in this category worldwide. Before the malt distillate goes into barrels and becomes whisky, it appears in a transparent form and is available for sale under the name “new make”. Jamaica has its famous aromatic white rums that are best sellers in bars all over the world. The amazing Haitian Clairin rums are becoming more and more popular. Personally, I believe that also the blanche armagnacs, about which I write this post, will appear on a larger scale because they have all the predispositions for it.
First, a bit of theory. Blanche Armagnac is a fairly young appellation (AOC – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), which was established in 2005. Appellation is a legally sanctioned production as I mentioned in my previous posts. This does not mean that blanche armagnacs were not made earlier in the past. Most often however they remained solely at the disposal of the producers themselves.
Blanche armagnacs come from the same region as the classic armagnacs, so they share the same values and production traditions as their barrel-aged brethren. After distillation, blanche armagnacs are placed in inert containers to maintain their aroma and crystal clear appearance. They mature in their own way, without reacting with the material in which they are stored. During this process, the alcohol content naturally lowers.
According to the latest guidelines from 2014, blanche armagnac “matures” for at least 3 months and is released for sale after passing positive verification of a specially appointed commission. The grape varieties most characteristic of armagnacs are also used for production blanche armagnacs, i.e. Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc, Baco and Colombard. As in the case of blended armagnacs, it is possible to blend distillates of different strains or use only one.
Chateau Garreau – tasting
In general Polish distributors have a very modest arsenal of blanche armagnac. One can only hope that this will change. So far, I had the opportunity to taste blanche armagnac made by Chateau Garreau. This particular specimen is 100% Baco. The original distillate with a strength of 55% alcohol content, after the maturation period, reached 40%. What kind of alcohol are we really dealing with?
Nose: very volatile, definitely grapevine, inflated with fresh plums, sour apples, vegetable broth, fresh cucumber, a hint of anise and lime, grass cut, herbs, a bit of acetone.
Mouth: less intense than the nose, sweetness, plums, cherries, melon, vegetable and herbal elements.
Finish: long, mild, fresh cucumber returns, all the time we are accompanied by a fresh plum, young white wine and grapevine, at the end a bit of juniper / gin bitterness.
Well… it is a very successful and satisfying product. I have a similarly strong and fruitful feelings as with the Haitian Clairin rums. I sincerely hope that this class of armagnacs will appear more widely on the peoples palates. It is worth emphasizing that it is absolutely artisanal and quality alcohol, produced on an extremely small scale, with respect for centuries-old tradition. I would love to try the higher alcohol version. It is my wish that Polish distributors will also open up to this alcohol category.