Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Search for a Great Brandy: Armagnac, Baron de Sigognac 10

A story printed on the box of this 10 year old Armagnac (bottled at 40%) describes how the Baron of legend replaced regular clocks in his distillery with one that measured decades – the minute hand counted years and the hour hand decades. The print on the box tells it way better than I’ve been able to, but nevertheless, it goes on to say that he soon gave up on this method, instead determining for himself – by taste - when his precious spirit was of sufficient age. That’s all very well, but if you’re going to put “10 years old” on the bottle, presumably there needs to be some level of certification beyond, “it tastes 10 years old to me”. Maybe not in the old days, but now certainly – France is in the EU after all – with its straight bananas and all…

That certainly wouldn’t work in my line of work, so I’m not about to tell the auditors that we made a hundred million pounds, and I know because I was here and it seemed about right. What do you mean fraud?

At £35.99, this is the most expensive brandy I’ve bought so far – if you’re not counting pomace brandy, which I’m not. It is modestly presented in a utilitarian bottle and box with a simple but classy label.

Before I go on to give you my impressions, I’d like to give a little respect to a user of Master of Malt, going by the name of Peter Lockwood, who offers the following review that is a glowing picture of simplicity:

“I suffer from tinnitus and this lovely drink helps me get to sleep,apart from that it is the best ever alcoholic drink I have ever tasted.”

I don’t suffer from tinnitus (much), but I do have a bad back, and this brandy represents the most savoury brandy I’ve tried so far – not being sweet at all really, though there is a hint of parma violets. You’d think that would be good, since I’ve often desired a little less sweetness from my brandies, but when it’s absent… it’s just not right for some reason. And it hasn’t done anything for my sore back.

I ended up at this destination because I had £30 of Amazon vouchers to use, and this product was receiving universally great reviews but sadly, there’s nothing here that convinces me it is possible to get great brandy at a reasonable price – outside of the Asbach I picked up in Duty Free, that you can read about here.

I’m still struggling to get excited about brandy as a spirit. It just doesn’t seem to deliver the kind of thrills I want for the price I want to pay – in general. So what next? I’m thinking I’m going to have to go all or nothing, and shell out a decent amount (I’m thinking around £60) and see where that gets me. And if I’m not impressed, I’m just going to get cheap things, drink them occasionally, and not expect too much.

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