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Review: Chateau Garreau Armagnac

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Chateau Garreau boasts a rich history full of Russian princes and British lords, but most relevant for our purposes are the 4 generations that have been distilling there since 1919. The chateau boasts two continuous stills (built in 1919 and 1932), and ferments/distills onsite. For their house style, they lean a little heavier on Baco than the other traditional grapes: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, or Colombard. Aging takes place in an underground wet cellar. Offerings range from blends to single vintages,

These samples were provided by the distiller. All of the following were produced on their 1919 still.

Château Garreau 2015 Folle Blanche n. 115 - 55.4%

Nose: Somewhere between sugarcane and agave for me. Floral and fruity and a little rough. There’s some younger folle blanche that I recognize from teenage Lous Pibous (definitely more raw here). Burnt sugars. Some pond water. It’s punchy, vegetal.

Flavor: Oak is very green. Vegetal and savory. Drops most of the notes and gets stuck in the floral vapors for the finish.

Palate Structure: It's big and unreduced so it's full up front before the boozier notes thin things out. Flavors ghost from time to time after things get hot and vegetal.

Alcohol Integration: Heat’s loses its grip on the palate into the finish.

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Habitation Velier Forsyths WP 502 - 2015 - 57%

Score: 4 (Not Complaining) If I had more than the sample size, I would've liked to play with this in cocktails. Big body. Lots of attitude and exciting notes to play with.

Château Garreau 100 Prohibition - 40%

Nose: Flamed orange peel. A little rummy. Caramel. Toasty and bonfire-y. Some earthy spice and fig. Not as much depth or complexity as the XO.

Flavor: Tangerine. Faint caramel. Dries out with some 2x4, sawdust, garden center notes.

Palate Structure: Moderate palate complexity but fizzles out quick.

Alcohol Integration: Too thin. Needs a boost.

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Bourbon - 4 years old, sub-90 proof

Four Roses 80 proof

Score: 5 (Acceptable) Nothing unpleasant here. A lighter touch and drier than the XO - top to bottom. The combo of youth (4-6 years old) and the toasted casks seem to come through in the finish. For me the wood drew more attention to the youth there than elsewhere during the pour. Nose seemed more mature.

Château Garreau XO - 40%

Nose: Dried and spicy with plenty of depth and age. Fruit (dried-dark), oak, and spice. Very well layered and integrated. Walnut. Super earthy. There is a touch of young wood like we found in the finish of the Prohibition sneaking through here.

Flavor: Full. I like the body on this one and the '85. Butterscotch into younger oak and bitter herbs. Vegetal. Lots of dried spice. Palate deepens toward the finish. Butterscotch gets really rich and condensed and then opens again with the addition of oak.

Palate Structure: Expands and contracts in fun ways. Good layers with each transition.

Alcohol Integration: For 80 proof it drinks great. I'm still greedy and wish it was slightly more elevated.

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Score: 7 (Highly Recommend) Drinks with a balanced and full mouthfeel. Good complexity. Very enjoyable nose. The lower ABV didn’t feel overly light. Nice blend better old/younger notes. If this was readily available and priced competitively against other stateside XO Armagnac ($50-$75), I’d probably keep a bottle on hand in house.

1996 Château Garreau - 40%

Nose: Deep oak and wood spice on the nose. Barnyard. Black licorice. Caramel. Hint of varnish. Banana - I keep running into rum notes with these. Great complexity and integration.

Flavor: Generic, caramel sweetness until some quick fruit (tangerine) and drying oak. Dips sweeter in the finish.

Palate Structure: Flavors take a second to amp up. Thin and tightly wound. It’s long but gets a little sticky in the finish with chocolate covered raisins.

Alcohol Integration: The XO seemed to work a little better body-wise at 40% than this one. Plays thin from the lower ABV. Not enough umph to cut through dessert notes at the end.

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The Real McCoy 12 yr. - 40%

Score: 6 (Solid) Lots of good stuff here, ultimately though, the palate loses clarity from a combination of sweeter notes and the thinner body, leaving things playing a bit jumbled.

1985 Château Garreau - 40%

Nose: Strong, old oak. Some rooty cola notes. Caramel. Barnyard like the ‘96. Boiled potatoes and carrots; like a crockpot. There’s some meat too. Didn’t see these notes coming. The complexity is great. This clarifies some of the earthier notes from the XO in really great ways.

Flavor: Full and rich up front; fruity and lighter on the backend. Caramel. Cedar. Vanilla. Tangerine (again). Light oak (but not green as with some of the others). Sweet cherries toward then end. Finish is a light and soft fade out.

Palate Structure: This is a pleasant ride. Nothing too challenging - rises and falls softly - but very enjoyable.

Alcohol Integration: Like the XO, drinks better at 40% than expected. Good length to the finish for 80 proof. Balance and full mouthfeel.

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Glendronach 18 yr. Allardice - 40%

Score: 7 (Highly Recommended) This drinks very similar the sub-90 proof 1970s armagnacs that I’ve tried. Light body with very nice clarity, complexity, and long low-heat finishes.

Rating System

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

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