Good armagnac can be elusive, but Single de Samalens makes a compelling case for its revival.
This armagnac is “single distillery, single grape” — Samalens is 100% ugni blanc, aged 8 years — and is designed to be dry (like whisky) instead of sweet.
Sure enough, Single de Samalens has an intensely woody character, not cloying like so much younger brandy. It’s not so much “dry” — it still has a light sweetness to it — but it has a drying finish that makes it more complex than most armagnac. Maybe that’s because it’s missing the funk of most young armagnac, offering a creamy attack and austerity that is surprising for an 8 year old, intense with notes of brandied pastry, butterscotch, cedar and leather, and dried apricots.
I have mixed feelings about the spirit: I like the intensity but it lacks gravitas. For your typical brandy drinker, though, it’s certainly worth exploring as an alternative to everything else out there.
B+ / $40 / singledesamalens.com
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