Armagnac produced exclusively for the importer by a bottling operation called L’Encantada, which works primarily with producers in the Bas Armagnac Region. XO is comprised of four single vintage casks aged at least 10 years: Domaine Lous Pibous 1989 barrel #61; Domaine Lous Pibous 1987 barrel #87; Domaine Del Cassou 1994 barrel #55; and Domaine Bellair 1997 barrel #181. Apologies for all the numbers, but rest assured it all adds up to an exquisitely flavorful Armagnac.
The XO’s bouquet consists of caramel, coffee and a whiff of sandalwood. The first sip reveals a smokiness you might find in a Japanese single malt or Scotch from Islay. The subtle suggestion of peat quickly yields to more traditional Armagnac flavors such as quince, strawberry jam and orange peel. There’s a bit of oakiness in there as well which, while uncommon for brandy, really ties this one together. The finish is languid and balmy, like a midsummer’s afternoon in Gascony. Yes, XO truly evokes a specific and special sense of place.