Five Questions with Florence Castarède, sixth generation of Armagnac Castarède.
Tell us about Armagnac Castarède.
Armagnac Castarède is the oldest Armagnac House founded in 1832. I am happy to stand for the 6th generation. The XO Armagnac Castarède wins gold medals on a regular basis, and last year, was awarded the Best Armagnac of The World by The World Drinks Awards.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I have so many, but I’ll pick two.
I had an American customer who tasted my Armagnac 10 years ago in Denmark, and he was coming to Paris for the first time. He booked his hotel right in front of my shop just so he could taste and buy my Armagnacs.
Three years ago, I met a collector in Calgary who asked me to sign all his bottles – 200 bottles! He’d been collecting them for 15 years. He had twin bottles of each vintage, one for tasting and the other for keeps. He travelled a lot to build his collection. He owns all my vintages from 1900 to 1998!
What is your favourite vintage, and how do you like to enjoy it?
It depends. With the VSOP, we can make cocktails. A simple way is to add tonic water and a slice of lemon. It’s a refreshing drink to have in the summer, and it’s perfect and easy to prepare.
XO and Vintages are tasted more as an after-dinner drink with a dessert.
Armagnac goes very well with desserts and also cigars. It’s also the perfect combo with tea.
Armagnac Castarède has an extraordinary range of scents that adds flavours to dishes and cocktails. What is your favourite way of using Armagnac?
To me, Armagnac is a perfume. I like to smell and taste the floral aromas of violet and limeflower; candied fruits like prunes, fresh fruits like citrus, cherry, quince, spices like vanilla and pepper… A lot of other perfumes.
You’ll find in my cookbook ‘Cooking with Armagnac’ a lot of recipes incorporating Armagnac. There’s a recipe for foie gras with grapes, it’s the perfect pairing. Duck as well, it is a widespread meat in Gascony, and as I’ve noticed, in Asia (Peking duck) too.
But for sure, Armagnac is best associated is with desserts. It is the perfect match with sweet aromas, and it helps to digest large meals.
With cocktails, I very much like those made with fruit, such as ‘Darling Love’.
In your opinion, which Asian dish pairs well with VSOP Armagnac Castarède?
Armagnac is perfect with spicy food. Armagnac paired with Nasi Lemak is delicious.