Nose: Yummy old oak, dried citrus peels (bitter orange, grapefruit); walnut baklava, and hints of that rare tropical rancio.
Palate: Nice full blast of oaky and booze, licorice, marmalade, butter, cardboard (fresh and dry), NOLA coffee and some passionfruit and pears (rancio).
Rating: 8 / 10 – the finish is quite sweet with walnuts, honey, oranges, and also a good amount of oaky bitterness. Overall it is a delicious armagnac, rustic with all the oak and licorice, but also sweet and complex.
Palate: Sweet, with cola, lemon zest, date paste and mushrooms.
Rating: 5 / 10 – Black pepper, vanilla buttercream and stone ground mustard. Overall, a tasty dram. Nice balance of sweet and oak, of age and fruit. Nothing surprised me here, for good or bad. These were common flavors on yak of this age. Enjoyable though.
Nose: maple, oak, tons of licorice, linen, pear and butter.
Palate: apple skins, licorice and raspberry jam.
Rating: 4 / 10 – The finish is bitter lemon and juniper. I expected more rancio, but while this didn’t taste young, it had most of the boring components of aging and few of the exciting ones. I didn’t find anything wrong necessarily, but neither does it have much to recommend it.
Nose: Oh I like this one! Extremely sweet and enticing. Stewed peaches, huge sweet oak and forest floor.
Palate: dark coffee, sweet caramelized raisins, Iberico ham, pepper jelly, tobacco, burnt toast, and dank earthy mushrooms. As always, it gets smoother and sweeter with time in the glass and warmth. But the funky mushroom flavors and burnt flavors come out more too.
Rating: 7 / 10 – 2/3 of the finish is black coffee, with 1/3 being apricot and fig jams. For the most part, this is pretty fantastic. Reminds me of my favorite Darroze offerings from domaine Bouillon. But with a little less complexity and funk.
Domaine Le Freche 1980 Cask #39 41.5% for L’encantada
Nose: sour gummy colas, freeze dried pineapple rings, black licorice, browned butter to the point of nuttyness, chinese 5 spice or maybe just cumin, canned pears with cloves, dark brown slowly caramelized onions topped with gruyere shavings. Next morning the glass smells like balsamic reduction. It just keeps transforming.
Palate: Starts with powerful cola. A bright burst of sweet dark warmth of panela (a dark sugar and molasses combo) and the nuttyness of De La Rosa Marzipan. Then a tiptoe across fruit funk .. prune juice, and a brush of sour reminiscent of a high end tonic. Sour but not too bitter, so I love it. Raw almonds. The mouthfeel is quite thin (as per the ABV), but leaves so much space for a rainbow of flavors. Makes my mouth water. Literally. But this can’t be a second or third dram. It has to come first. A delicate le Freche, go figure.
Rating: 7 / 10 – I’m buying another. The thin mouthfeel will annoy some folks, but I decided to embrace it.
Nose: Birch bark, chocolate covered espresso beans, black forest cake, dark molasses, figs brûlée with a dollop of blue cheese, tart plum butter with hints of clove and allspice, wintergreen lifesavers
Palate: How odd. I was expecting glendronach and got glen-tonic. Far more herbal and less fruit forward. The palate isn’t all full bodied as the ABV implied. Lemon zest, fresh muddled mint leaves, grape skin, gentle touch clove, a light spiciness reminiscent of radish sprouts, cola on the finish then a bitterness like crushed aspirin. and a feathering of oak.
Rating: 7 / 10 – Not sad I have a few bottles but I love tonic, so if that isn’t your thing, might want to pick a different release.
Nose: The only places open for breakfast in the Canaries are Jamonerias. I like high end cured ham just as much as the next guy, but fuck man, I just want some eggs benedict with thick cut black pepper bacon and a smoothie #expatproblems. The nose has the richness of the fatty layer of high end acorn fed iberico. And wafts of nuttyness. The spice cabinet is on the earthy side, cumin and saffron, with bright spots of clove. Middle eastern sweeties, Maamoul date cookies and pistachios. There is an umami to the nose harkening to some of the best dashi I had when in Japan.
Palate: Wintergreen. But none of the bitterness. In 5th grade in the US for many years all schools sent their kids to space camp. And you would go hike under the stars at night and they handed out wintergreen lifesavers. If you crunch them, they spark in the dark. So freaking cool. This pour is a powerful combination of sweet, sour and salty. Umeboshi japanese pickled plums. There is a traditional dish served here in the canaries: ultra thin tempura aubergine with sea salt and dark palm tree syrup. Like balsamic and molasses had a love child. This isn’t going to please everyone, but I absolutely love it. It’s challenging and interesting and everything I look for in a really good Le Freche.
Rating: 8 / 10 – I’m delighted I bought one. And wish I had a spare. Everything I liked in Le Freche 1980 turned up a notch. I’m struggling on the rating because for me it’s an 8, but I acknowledge it probably won’t be for others. It’s a touch too neurotic. Make sure you give it time to breathe in the glass. It really opened up.
Domaine Le Frêche 1972 Cask #11 48.9% for L’encantada
Nose: Jungle juice (ryan also thinks DEET), citronella, acetone. Juicy red plums, candied crushed walnuts or macadamia nuts, bitter orange peel / Grand Marnier. Almost burnt toast, bratwurst and bbqs leeks. Cloves & nutmeg.
Rating: 4 (Shane & Sascha) 6 (Ryan) / 10 While I love the nose, and the palate has something fun in the mix, the soapy bitterness is brutal to me. I’ve tried this blind twice now and stand by the score.
Nose: The waxiness of a whole foods orange peel and the orange wax that we used on our outdoor teak furniture. Pushing my thumb into a tangerine. Ripe banana peel. Baked apples stuffed with raisins and the tiniest dust of cinnamon. Fresh cut maple planks and fresh cut fennel bulb.
Palate: Oh, this is good. I know that soon the era of pumpkin will fall. In the north, the cold will snap and the winds will whisper, peppermint everything. Minter is coming. For those of you know me, that is not okay at all. But if everyone layered in the herbal, the fruit, and the sweets with this level of pure sophistication, I’d embrace my new wintloverlords with open arms. Rich maple syrup on the tip of my tongue, but also surging back on the long finish. Plump raisins with pan caramelized apricot slices tossed in butter and brown sugar with a light abricotine flambee. Oak tannins and peppermint popping in and out like the hook from a musician who knows to hold the theme without being monotonous. And on the final finish, tangerine juice.
Rating: 8 / 10 – This domain is one of the greats. I need a backup.
Lous Pibous 1995/2021 Cask #141 51.2% for L’Encantada
Nose: Potent, with deep oak and purple fruit flair. I was always blown away by the difference in gum in the USA and in France as a kid. France had the US beat for fruit, with epic Apricot flavors. But the USA sold huge hunks of chewing gum perfectly crafted to pry off fillings and get stuck in hair. Bubblicious grape gum may not have retained its flavor long, but what a chew. Julie has been buying cassis juice to mix with sparkling water for the kids. It was for the kids, but I love it so much, I am customer #1. I love those darker fruit concentrates. My buddy San came over to my rooftop last Thursday and brought blackberries from his fathers “tree”. I thought, bullshit, they only grow on vines. Turns out those insanely delicious treats are mulberries. First time having them and I am all in. So dark fruits and oaky oaky goodness. But not sawdust or fresh cut. I spent a good part of my life living in oak groves, with acorns littering the ground, and hints of moss climbing up these majestic trunks. Nature’s playground. Smells of wet, earthy nature.
Palate: Bit of heat on the first sip, then a big wave of flavor coats my mouth. Wood forward, although perhaps less of the full on cabinet spices. A shake of cinnamon and then back to the forest floor. Dark soil. Shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Unwashed under ripe black berries. Under all that power, the finish is a hint thin and turns herbal with tea tannins; like a lemon yerba mate. Even minutes after I can taste it, with a slightly chalky vibe.
Rating: 6 / 10 – Each of the notes are something to love. It’s really quite in line with my palate, but there is a minor imbalance in the force. I’m struggling to point at the gap. I’d buy one if the price is reasonable, and if not, it’s cool, tonight I am glad I tried it. It could be either a 6 or 7 and I went back a number of times. 6 it is. Oh, cool. Hasn’t tried this Pibous. Thanks kiddo. Turns out I bought one of these and hadn’t opened it yet. Not feeling too bad about the purchase and would put this as a middle of the pack pibous.
My daughter has been entering tasting notes into the distillates as a summer job. She was wondering how much a name affects the score, and I told her that it is perhaps one of the biggest factors. Humans are suckers for a story and prestige. She said I should do more blind tastings if I want my reviews to be honest. So, we made a blind sample grab bag. Picked 20 samples out of my collection at random. And each night I pull one out blind and try it and can’t look at the label before tasting. An experiment to see if my average rating goes up or down. She also put a few things I’ve had many times in there to test me. Fun. Tonight is the first.
Lous Pibous 2003 Cask #183 (Lincoln Road) 56.5% for L´Encantada
Nose: caramel, oak, surprisingly mild booze. After some time in the glass I catch some vanillin and a hint of something fresh and herbal (eucalyptus, evergreen).
Palate: Caramel first, with earthy oak, and then something really fun – the herbal notes hinted at in the nose begin to dance around the mouth. Reminds me of chartreuse. There’s an unexpected burst of tarry creosote (which is one of my favorite aromas, if you’re familiar). Dry bitter orange, raw almond, threshold levels of oxidation-related phenols and butterscotch. The latter don’t detract but rather add pleasing depth. The finish is short and sweet, with the oak and chartreuse herbal notes and bitter orange lingering briefly.
Rating: 7 / 10 – I love herbaceous spirits, and this one leans that way. The nose was a little mild and the finish somewhat short, and it lacked some darker notes that would’ve pushed this over the top. But the sweet richness of the palate and the creosote chartreuse flavors make it deliciously memorable. (Revisit. 1/2020: lots of white grape today. Very much tastes like brandy not bourbon. Fresh coconut. Spearmint. Some floral FB notes of white lilies. Toward the end of the glass increasingly dark flavors of cocoa, prunes and tobacco).