L'Encantada Domaine Bellair 1997 20yo (51.7%): Continuing the brandy theme I started for this holiday season. A new single cask bottling from L'Encantada but this time from an estate I have never tasted from before. I know that they work with Darroze a lot so I might have had it in some old Darroze blends but definitely not as a single cask or as a single vintage expression. The Bellair estate distills their spirit using their own still which is rare in Armagnac region from Baco and Ugni Blanc grape varieties and uses larger size barrels to mature their Armagnac.
Color: Dark to medium amber, chestnut honey with thin but barely moving legs.
Nose: Very grainy, moldy and mute first: Felt, old wool, damp basement smell and old dusty bourbon... Letting it air for a while opens it up: Old neutral oak, Oloroso sherry (?) and dunnage warehouse funk. Now it noses like a very old sherry matured Scotch. All things aside it promises a non-sweet palate which makes me excited. Adding a few drops of water brings bitter greens, dandelion leaves, aloe and oregano. This is a nose I could spend more time on and I probably will later.
Palate: Wintergreen Altoids, spearmint leaves and fresh tarragon. Rosemary, thyme and chamomile. Incredibly herbal and green almost like a European herbal cordial. Decaying old wood... It doesn't feel like its abv is as high as 51.7%. Dry and woody. Water adds a little sweetness. Quince jam, cloves and cinnamon. More like a brandy now but still very green.
Finish: Long to medium. Dry with candied figs, almonds and a little green Chartreuse.
Overall: I liked it a lot... But I have to warn you here: I do like Chartreuse and many other bizarre European herb based liquors as well. I don't know if I could call this in a blind tasting a brandy right away let alone an Armagnac. It has a very unique taste profile which might make me go online and start to look for some other bottlings from the same estate later. I am quite happy that I have a bottle to be honest but not a sample. I will savor and enjoy it for a long time...