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Château du Busca :
700 YEARS IN GASCONY WITH
FRANCE'S OLDEST SPIRIT
The Party Source Drinks - SUMMER 2007 - 18 July 2007
By Jay Erisman, Fine Spirits Manager
One of the striking things about Europe is how centuries of history exist alongside the modern world. Everything is old in France. Kentucky's bourbon distilleries may seem like industrial plants, but my recent visit to the historic Armagnac estate, Château du Busca, was like stepping into a time machine.
Armagnac is France's oldest brandy, predating Cognac by a couple of centuries. Where Cognac is elegant, graceful, refined, Armagnac is powerful, potent, and rustic. America's bourbon drinkers would do well to spend a few evenings with a bottle of vintage Armagnac, bottled at barrel proof and aged to perfection. Family owned Château du Busca crafts very traditional Armagnac, distilled only one time for an extra full body and intense golden fruit flavors.
The château dates from 1649, but the site originated as a medieval town. Here and there around the château, the centuries bubble to the surface. The 15th century chapel is from the old village of Busca, and was incorporated into the present structure. A cobblestone corridor off the master's kitchen, "La Ruelle," is in fact a narrow 700-year-old street. Some of the doors are a bit low, because the Gascons were not so tall back then. A sink in the kitchen, built eons before central plumbing, drains straight through the wall to the outside. And the ancient Armagnac aging cellars, known as chai, look like something out of Middle Earth. By comparison, the mellow 1946 vintage Armagnac I sipped was a baby – but it tasted like time itself.