Entrepreneur and media personality Raj Bhakta built a hallmark whiskey brand by founding WhistlePig, and he’s using his storytelling playbook to grow another — this time eponymous — spirits bottler with Bhakta Spirits. Known for launching with 50+ year old Armagnacs, Bhakta has more recently branched out into both younger brandy blends and single vintage bottlings back to the 1940s.
Today, we’ll be looking at their 1982 vintage, this one sourced from Armagnac-Ténarèze. Bhakta’s product page helps set the context by highlighting the distilling year’s major historic moments; the Commodore 64 comes to market, war breaks out in the Falklands, and USA Today launches its first paper.
This Armagnac carries a 40 year old age statement and is bottled at 107.8 proof. Note that unlike Bhakta’s standard line, these single vintage releases are aged in traditional Gascon oak, and have no Islay finish. Let’s dive in.
On the nose, there’s an initial burst of both leather and fresh-squeezed citrus peel. It’s fruity rather than funky, and while the leather never dissipates, it doesn’t stifle the sweeter elements. There are some lovely and light melon notes, giving an overall bright and fresh impression. There are also floral notes (including rose) and a small undercurrent of dried tobacco peeking out from behind the leather.
Though the nose carried fruit, the mouth is more syrupy sweet — think burnt caramel — followed by tobacco and nuts: peanuts, hazelnuts, and pecans, all deeply roasted. I was searching for fruit here and getting a bit of dark cherry, but not much more on that front. Though the palate isn’t quite as complex as some other well-aged brandies from Bhakta’s cellars, it doesn’t get bogged down by any specific notes. There is interplay and balance here, though perhaps not to the superlative level as Bhakta 50’s “Patton” barrel, among other blends.
The finish carries more tobacco and a very dark chocolate. There’s a buttery texture that reminds me of the aftermath of consuming dried Medjool dates. A gradual dissipation of flavors and textures sits nicely and certainly suits the corresponding 40 year age statement.
A- / $309 / bhaktaspirits.com