Armagnac with peated Scotch whisky cask finish is released

An Armagnac finished in a peated Scotch whisky barrel has been released in a bid to push the region in an innovative new direction.

Regulations require all Armagnac to be aged in exclusively French oak, meaning it has never really been possible to experiment with whisky finishes.

However, a French distributor was ageing Ledaig – a peated Scotch from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull – in a barrel made from French oak in Bordeaux, and they gave it to Domaine Laguille.

It put its 2010 Armagnac into the barrel and it has taken on many of the peated notes you associate with Scotch from the islands.

Commercial director Sandra Lemarechal admitted that some producers in the region will be annoyed by this approach.

But she told DRN: “In the spirits world everyone uses finishes – gin, whisky, rum, everyone – and one of the reasons why Armagnac has always been seen as a bit old fashioned is that we don’t use this kind of innovation.

“It’s a pity, because when it’s well made it can be wonderful, provided you respect the rules, like French oak, which is important.

“We shouldn’t be annoyed or try to refrain from these kinds of trials. It will make people hear about Armagnac, which is most important.”

The Armagnac will not be available for export markets as there are just 350 bottles, which will sell for approximately €80 in France.

But Domaine Laguille, which has just secured a UK distribution agreement with Vindependents, plans to experiment further with finishes going forwards and those releases may well venture over to our shores.

Lemarechal was formerly the head of communications at the BNIA, the generic body for Armagnac, so she is well placed to comment on the industry’s chances of future success.

She said: “It’s now or never for Armagnac. It’s a time when people are looking for smaller productions and everyone speaks about craft. It’s a moment that Armagnac must not miss. The problem with Armagnac has never been the product. The product is wonderful. The problem is how to sell it and how to market it. Some people do it very well, like Laubade and Delord, but some of the smaller ones often don’t have the knowledge or the time.”

Yet she feels that the situation has improved a lot over the last two years and she feels producers are starting to pull in the right direction, appealing to younger adults and whisky and rum fans with new ranges and innovative designs, so the category could be on the brink of an exports boom.

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