Everyone has a kryptonite. A flavor everyone else loves but makes you gag. When I was a kid it was broccoli. Foul weed. You couldn’t get me to eat it. Until at some point in my early 30s my daughter forced me to try a bite and I realized, it tastes like nothing. Apparently, whatever tastebuds I have which loathed that green little shop of horrors have died. Problem solved.
This goes two ways and sometimes isn’t a personal issue. I FREAKING LOVE ROOT BEER. And frankly, what born and bred American doesn’t. But you can’t get root beer to save your life in my part of Europe outside of novelty stores. I spent years researching why and finally found the reason. The most popular brand of urinal cake in Europe for decades was root beer scented. Imagine cracking a bottle that viscerally smells like a sports stadium urinal two hours into game time. Gonna be hard to choke that shit down. So the whole continent is basically screwed.
Well, when it comes to distillates, I feel the way about menthol. Ratings are an expression of personal taste and palate. So while you might love this cask, there is no way I will ever score it above a 6. I just can’t really enjoy it. Same challenge with the last three Redbreast Single Cask Port releases. Beloved… but I still can’t get through the 50ml samples I have. So let’s get that out front and then let it go. This is a nice bottle, just not for me.
The nose is on the up and up. My family has a good size orchard and every year go through various calisthenics to process a ton of fruit. When mom makes fruit leather, you can smell it for days. The house has this heavy tannic smell where all the base fruit notes remain but the sugar high notes have faded. When I nose this glass, it is like going to Washington state in the fall. The apples are falling from the trees. The frost in the air. There is a sweetness to this armagnac that isn’t cane. Turbinado sugar that harkens back to those old timey root beer barrel candy my dad loves. Then warm mulling spices. And … Wintergreen mint. All in all, a nice nose. The alcohol is kinda stronger than I expected on the sniffer, but not enough to bother me.
The palate is quite straight forward. Right out of the bottle, it’s Christmas time. Cinnamon, spiced plums, warm oak. Lovely, but low on complexity. If it stopped right here, it would have just crossed the line into a 7. But barely. And then the menthol kicks in, bold. Not unpleasant if you like it. But with another 30 minutes of air time, it’s all I can taste. The finish is oh so long and mostly is gentle oak.
Rating: 6 /10: Good bottle at the right price.
Frankly, if it was just me and I wasn’t trying to be a bit balanced, my dislike of menthol would drop this to a 5. But even I can acknowledge that this is a lovely wintergreen note and not halls cough drops.