L'Encantada "Lous Pibous" 14 Year 2004 Vintage Armagnac
L'Encantada is an independent bottler that started as a bunch of Armagnac loving friends who decided to do something about the fact that there was so much great undiscovered brandy consistently just being sold to negociants (large non producer houses) to be hidden away in boring, young, watered down blends. So they started offering small estates a premium to retain some of their stock as single barrel, cask strength selections for them to bottle in their natural state, without any additives. They quickly made quite a name for themselves, showcasing impressive vintages from previously unknown estates, true Armagnac nerds' Armagnac.
Lous Pibous, a small producer who made Armagnac from the 1980's until 2005, has been one of the most notorious of L'Encantada's discoveries, gaining a cult like following here in the USA. That seems to be no accident, as the brawny brandies coming from Pibous, generally rich and meaty and at a higher proof than most other Armagnacs, seem almost tailor made to appeal to fans of American whiskey. Of course they weren't made with bourbon drinkers actually in mind, but it makes sense when you take a look at what set their process apart. Using only Folle Blanche grapes gives the brandies prominent floral notes and flashes of bright fruit and spice, aging entirely in new oak means more wood influence, more prominent vanilla, and lots of spice, and storing the barrels in a controlled dry warehouse (or chai, as it's called in France) keeps the alcohol from evaporating, letting the abv climb rather than reduce. To the classic French Armagnac palate, this is perhaps strange, an Armagnac aberration. But its a beautiful beast; it works.
The nose is oaky and savory with waves of red berries, nuts, and apples. On the palate, the meatiness follows through, with a hint of saltiness. Raspberry jam, fresh tart cherries, and creamy vanilla brighten up the meat party, before finishing on oaky and savory flavors. Bottled at 56.1% abv.