Review: Cardinat Bas Armagnac - 1988 and 2005
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Context: From K&L, "The Domaine dates back to the late 19th century when Joseph Lalanne farmed the land and built the family home which stills stands today. In 1935, his sudden death thrust his young son Camille into the patriarchal role. Just four years later at then tender age of nineteen, on the eve of World War II, Camille planted his first vines. In a time when the future was anything but certain Camille dove into this patient passion and devoted the rest of his life to the cultivation of Armagnac. He worked the land by himself for another seventy years before being joined by his daughter Patricia and her husband Malkeet. "
It's an engaging and powerful story, but what really raised eyebrows stateside (in our little brandy circle) was the unwieldy tart fruit/oak assault that was the original 1981 release. That Cardinat is right up there with my first taste of Hampden as one of the most influential pours I've had. Pair that oddball with solid vintages that outperformed their price tags like the 1992 Cardinat 24 yr. at $70 (I've got that one as an 8 in my rankings; truth be told, it outclasses the '81), and you have all the makings for a nice little cult following. If I had regular access to Cardinat vintages with prices like K&L offered, I might be drinking less tequila.
Up next: two vintages I haven't tried yet, including the first Cardinat I've had over 100 proof.
2005 Cardinat 14 yr. - 54%
Nose: Big oak. Lots of wood and baking spice. Caramel. Not as much fruit coming through as I've found in other older vintages.
Flavor: Oaky and spicy up front . Quick vanilla. Cinnamon morphs into Red Hots candy through the finish.
Palate Structure: Most of this plays high, but it doesn't lose its grip or get spirit-y. Simple enough but with some action.
Alcohol Integration: Drinks like a 90 proofer all day.
Score: 6 (Solid) Clarity is impressive. The finish can get dangerously close to Fireball (or Hot Damn! if you’re my age). Nice to see that I’m enjoying younger yak outside of Lous Pibous/Couzard-Lassalle.
1988 Cardinat - 31 yr. - 47%
Nose: Less complex than the 2005. Oak dominant with some fruit fighting through - musty grape.
Flavor: French vanilla. Cherry. Oak. Finish amps the oak.
Palate Structure: Big and fat on the palate. A little flabby up front but develops some muscle mid.
Alcohol Integration: Finish is medium with zero heat. Everything is underproof here as well which is a little unfortunate for the nose and finish. The palate was better dialed in.
Score: 6 (Solid) These remind me of any number of vintage Pellehaut releases in that they're affordable, approachable, and deliver quality brandy, keeping you eager to explore and hopeful that there are still crazy deals to be had in the Golden Age of Brandy.
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Bourbon - wheated, fruity with lighter baking spices
Rebel Distiller’s Collection 4 year - Binny’s #7220857 - 56.5%
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Wish I Was Drinking Something Else
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour