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pick of the week

Blanche de Montal Armagnac, France Add to ...

  • Rating 90
  • Price $37.95/700 ml

Clearly, this is not your grandfather’s Armagnac (assuming your grandfather even knows or knew about Armagnac, France’s craft-distilled counterpart to Cognac). It’s white, as in moonshine, not brown like brandy.

In a bid to appeal to a more youthful, cocktail-imbibing crowd, Armagnac producers obtained appellation status for the “blanche” or white category in 2005. Their traditional beverage gets its brown colour from years maturing in wood barrels. Blanche is young spirit more akin to vodka. But, just like Armagnac and other brandies, it’s distilled from wine rather than grain or potatoes.

This example, from a good producer, does in fact smell something like a cross between vodka and grappa, the latter being Italy’s white spirit made from grape pomace. On the palate, it displays an attractive softness and nuances of pear and aniseed. Pretty smooth, at 40-per-cent alcohol, it’s a more flavourful – though still suitably subtle – substitute for vodka in many modern mixed drinks. Available in very limited quantities only in select large LCBO stores in Ontario, lcbo.com.

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