I don’t exactly know who coined the term “malternative”, I presume it’s Mr. Serge Valentin of WhiskyFun. It appears to be a term that most people associate with rum; quite possibly “the next up and coming spirit” seeing how well the recent Caroni releases were received. However, as whiskies continue to surge in prices, it’s really anything that’s as enjoyable and doesn’t necessarily cost as much as whiskies.. which brings me to this Gelas Single Cask.
Armagnacs has long been known as the value pick by those who are in the know. However it does take a bit of getting used to if you are the typical cask strength whisky only guy. In that sense, this Gelas Bas-Armagnac would serve as a good entry point. It’s not often to see Armagnac bottled at cask strength and I must say, looking at the label, you would almost think this is a whisky – single cask, double matured, oloroso.
It’s been said that venturing into other types of spirits will give you a boarder sense of what makes a good spirit; which in turns helps further your appreciation in malts.. I think this expression does just that.
Frangrant on the nose, that earthy musk somewhat unfairly associated with Armagnac (not all Armagnacs are made the same) is here. Sweet pitted red cherries coated with a brush of dark chocolate sauce with newly shaved french oak and a light tobacco note. Crushed black pepper and a light cheddar note.
The palate is where the oloroso really shines through, it’s less cask influenced like whiskies but it appears to be more orientated on the nature of oloroso itself. Oloroso is itself a light liquor that conveys a some what dry, cheesy note. Of course there is the acidic nature from the grapes sourced to craft the Armagnac new make, then it becomes more alluring with sweet muscat grapes well wrapped in a silly chocolate note. A sprinkle of black truffles atop to add to the mystique as well.
The higher alcohol content seems to prolong the delicate nature of Armagnac well onto the finish, that well cured woody note now lingers in the mouth cavity, with orange peel preserve surfacing which brings a sense of brightness to it.
I will unequivocally recommend this for those who seek for something different that still offers a familiarity of the spirit they know and love; this is a nip that really opened my eyes to the uncharted terrortory of Armagnac.