Monday, February 2, 2015

$15 Armagnac: Prince D'Arignac VS

Armagnac is one of my favorite spirits, and while it's a good deal compared to whiskey, there's not much available on the low end.  For that reason, I was intrigued to see Trader Joe's carrying an Armagnac for $14.99.  This appears to be an independently bottled brandy and the VS indicates that it is between two and four years old.

How good is a $15 Armagnac?  Let's find out.

Prince D'Arignac Armagnac VS, 40% abv ($14.99)

The nose is new makey, like it really smells fresh off the still with all of those tequila like new make notes.  The palate follows suit.  It's got some spice but the overall flavor is raw new make...more akin to a two month old than a two year old brandy.  There's really nothing that distinguishes it as Armagnac until the finish which has a light spiciness and some fruit in the background, but even that is dominated by new make notes.  I feel bad for anyone who picks this up hoping it will give them a sense of what Armagnac is like, and given that it's at Trader Joe''s, I'm guessing that will be a lot of people.

Well, now I know what a $15 Armagnac tastes like, and I don't plan on tasting it again.


Florin said...

To spare you the $20, the TJ Calvados is equally uninspiring. And their 8yo Irish Single Malt is most likely Bushmills (triple distilled), and tastes quite similar to the 10yo Bushmills - not my favorite, by any stretch.

So go straight to those ridiculously expensive 40% ABV single malts from Aleksander Murray and let us know how they are.

Anonymous said...

Is there a chance that it isnt actually two years old? Do armagnac labeling rules have any jurisdiction in america?

sku said...

Florin, I long ago swore off the Trader Joe's Single Malts. It's too bad to hear about the Irish Whiskey though as their previous bottling, from Cooley, was quite good.

Anon, very good question. The US regs don't recognize VS, VSOP and XO, but they do state that brandy less than two years old has to be labeled "immature."

Of course, we all know how good the TTB is at approving domestic age statements; I can't imagine they are giving more scrutiny to imports.

Anonymous said...

You make a good point about how many people are going to be disappointed by this crap. What's really unfortunate is how many of them are are to come away telling people "yeah, I've had Armagnac and it's like moonshine, don't bother." Places like TJ's trafficking in crummy swill like this do real damage to the reputation of said region or category.

Alex said...

Thanks for an update on the Trader Joe's offerings. I've been wondering how the TJ bourbon is, but haven't had a chance to try it yet. I've had some of their bad single malts.

sku said...

Alex, I reviewed the Trader Joe's Bourbon a few years ago. It's distilled at Barton. I wasn't into it.

morlock said...

Bought this TJ 'ngac. Broke it down with water for palate analysis during my drive to work this morning. Usually a product like this, far too good to be true at the price, is heads & tails from a still cut of something else. You can taste the wood & wine if you dig deep enough with dilution. The barrels are, by flavor, far removed from first fill.

Stefan " Swede " Berggren said...

The trick with these young armagnacs is to use them in a cocktail or to add 1/4 oz of maple syrup (tones the rough edges and adds a false sense of age. I agree the congeners coming of this young beast are a bit "rough".

Gordonn Blue said...

While not capable of displaying deeper notes, I found this offering from TJ to be easier on the palate than I would have expected and not in any way, offensive.

Any VS will pale in comparison to VSOP (and yes, the play on words is intended).

This may not be for Serious Swirlers, but it's accesseable both in taste and budget.

Anonymous said...

FYI , Armagnac is the pioneer in fine brandy it just so happen cognac copied and had more marketing strategy that's why it skyrocketed . But it doesn't mean that armagnac is not as equal or even smoother than cognac. SKU YOU MUST HAVE A PHELM OR BOOGERS WHEN YOU TASTED AND SNIFFED ARMAGNAC .

Anonymous said...

I think you have to match your expectations to the product you buy. If you compare this VS to other VS products, I think it stands out very well. If you are expecting a XO carmel bomb, and then taste this, sure ... you will be disappointed.

Armagnac is all about the nose, which I thought was great on this youngster. The color was beautiful. I picked up what might be Baco or Colombard in there which is getting harder to find since the regulatory body made most vineyards rip out Baco. Adds real depth instead of the 1 note ugni blanc cognac wannabes you normally find.

And in cocktails, it adds a subtle floral note that makes the usual, unusual. And for the ladies who aren't typically bourbon or scotch drinkers, this is a very approachable first step into aged spirits.

If you just want hooch to slurp down and burn all the way down for the fastest buzz possible...don't look for armagnac. But if you want great value for money, this is a great buy. Definitely will add this to my bar as a go to cocktail base!

Anonymous said...

None whatsoever