Château de Pellehaut seems to be one of the more well-known armagnac houses, at least in the States. Located in the Ténarèze region in the middle of Armagnac, it follows the traditional practice of distilling their wines in a mobile still. The output is at a rather mild 54%, which helps to explain both their robust flavors and the often low-ish strength of their single casks. They fill all of their fresh spirit into 420 liter new oak casks.
This particular cask was distilled from wine made entire from folle-blanche grape in 2001, filled into a new oak cask, then bottled in 2016 at 48.6% without coloring or chill filtration for K&L Wines.
Thanks to Florin for this sample.
Chateau de Pellehaut 15 Year 2001/2016 Folle-Blanche for K&L
Nose: rich berry and juicy grape, wild honey, moderate but not overbearing oak, a little cedar, vanilla, citrus peel, baking spices, peanut brittle, a thread of wood smoke/incense. After adding a few drops of water it gets flatter and loses most of its intensity except for the oak, with the fruitier brandy notes becoming grain.
Taste: lots of grape, berry, and honey sweetness starting up front and continuing through, orange peel in the background, some heat and a savory note in the middle, fading into moderate oak and grape tannins. After dilution almost all of the heat disappears, the oak becomes less tannic, and some raisin (rather than grape) notes come out around the back, but the overall structure remains about the same.
Finish: balanced fruit and oak, tannins linger
As Bozzy noted, this is very much a bourbon, and even more specifically a wheated bourbon, drinker's armagnac. It doesn't have the spiciness that you would expect from rye bourbons, but the balance of sweetness, fruit, and oak are basically spot-on. I was a little disappointed by how much the aromas faded with water, but if you leave it alone they're all good.
At the $50 it went for retail, I think this pretty handily beats most comparably priced bourbons as long as your expectations are set for brandy rather than whiskey. It's not the most complex thing, but it definitely hits all the right notes.
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