Good evening! We’re looking at brandy this week, and comparing two brands of admittedly different varieties from mainland Europe. From Spain, and in the brandy de Jerez solera gran riserva style, aged around 10 years, it’s Gran Duque D’Alba – henceforth to be known as The Duke.
Its opposite number is from France, and represents the Armagnac style. It’s Bas Armagnac delord – or The Lord, as it will be known from now on, and it is of the Hors d’Age variety which means it should also be around 10 years old.
The Duke was procured from a duty free shop in San Javier airport in Spain, while The Lord was a very generous and thoughtful gift from my friend Geoffray Westside, when he visited from France in July.
I had asked that Geoffray bring me some Armagnac, and provided a list of potential targets, but I had to cancel when I spent more than I had planned on the Golfageddon holiday. Geoffray ignored my instruction and brought it as a gift. Good man.
So what are we looking at here:
The Duke: 21 euros, but you can expect to pay around £45 in the UK.
The Lord: I don’t know how much Geoffray paid, and I haven’t been able to find the exact same bottling online, but it’s looking to be somewhere from £45-60 here. Check this page though, where certain vintages push the price up to beyond £1000. Clearly it is quite renowned.
The Duke: quite fancy; it comes in a box that is trying to look old, while the bottle itself is in an interesting cylindrical Benedictine style, according to this website. The top is quite large and it is topped off with a large cork, making a refreshing change from the booze resistor cap you get in so many Spanish liquor bottles. Then there is a faux wax seal and (for some reason) a bit of ribbon, giving a three musketeers feel to the whole thing. Overall it gives the effect of potentially being quite special.
The Lord: here we have the brandy coming in its own little wooden coffin – very special – while the bottle is a kind of flask shape and is frosted. There’s a bit of faux wax on there also. It all adds up to a great package. Of course, you wonder how much you’re paying for the packaging, but who doesn’t like that little bit extra?
Both are bottled at 40% ABV.
In the glass
I can’t tell any difference; deep and dark.
They actually smell the same, but The Lord is better, giving more of an impression of wooden barrels and a gentle smokiness on top of the fruity tones that they share.
Again, they taste the same, but The Lord is better. It’s just that little bit more complex and varied even though I can’t put my finger on a single element that makes this so. I suppose it’s the recognisable Armagnac tang that just edges it over the Jerez bite.
Equal length. Nothing specific to note.
While I can’t compare the value of these two products, since I don’t know the cost of one of them, with the one that I do know - The Duke – it does have to be a consideration. At £45 I certainly wouldn’t be buying it here in the UK when you think of all the classy single malt scotch you can get for that price. However, it does make a decent souvenir to bring back from your Spanish holiday.
Pricing considerations aside, it is plain to see that I have a slight preference for The Lord – great package, fine brandy. Nowhere near approaching delivery of the kind of pleasure that my favourite whiskies bring, but that’s entirely subjective.
And that’s all I have to say about that. Next week I’ll be dipping my toe into the waters of one of my least favourite spirit genres: gin, and asking what’s so fucking special about gin?!? So until then… I’ll see ya.