Darroze: the mosaic of Bas-Armagnac.

Entwined with the world of gastronomy and Bas-Armagnac, Darroze have imposed themselves by their transparency and their excellent value-for-the-price.

Darroze may not be the oldest house of armagnac, but its relationships with a multitude of partner producers make them the best to highlight Bas-Armagnac in all its diversity while going way back in time.


The history of Darroze is intimately linked to that of the Gascony region, gastronomy and good taste. It was at the end of the 1960s, in Villeneuve-de-Marsan, that Jean Darroze, a two-star Michelin chef, began acquiring armagnacs for the clients of his restaurant. Polyculture has always been practiced in Gascony in order to allow farmers who owned a few vines to increase their income by diversifying their production. When Jean Darroze went with his son Francis, the restaurant’s sommelier, to the surrounding farms to buy quality products, he regularly found Bas-Armagnac dames-jeannes whose traceability was guaranteed.

Selection of Bas-Armagnacs at Jean Darroze's restaurant at Villeneuve-de-Marsan - ©Maison Darroze
Selection of armagnacs at Jean Darroze’s restaurant, Villeneuve-de-Marsan (©Maison Darroze)

Francis Darroze gradually took over the business and began to scour the Bas-Armagnac region in search of quality spirits. Wishing to develop the business further, he began to buy not only “dames-jeannes” but complete barrels in order to bottle them without reduction nor sweeteners with the name “Darroze” written in small letters on the label next to the name of the producer. In 1974, he created the company Bas-Armagnacs Francis Darroze. 

Success soon came knocking at the door of the company, and in 1975 he began distilling his first armagnacs at Domaine de Martin and exporting them (first to Luxembourg in 1977 and then to the USA in 1981).

Marc and Francis Darroze - ©Maison Darroze
Marc and Francis Darroze (©Maison Darroze)

It is his son Marc, with laughing eyes, whom we met, who has carried on for more than two decades to develop the activities of the family house (10 employees).

A trading house above all

Darroze does not own any vineyards and focuses on its business as a distiller/trader. Marc Darroze relies on his 30 partner producers to source his spirits. He distills in half of them and buys barrels from the rest. 

At Darroze, diversity, respect of the terroir and transparency are key elements. This is why the question of buying vineyards and producing wine for distillation does not arise today. 

Almost all of Darroze’s partner producers are located in the Bas-Armagnac appellation, with rare exceptions such as Domaine de la Poste located in Ténarèze.


Approximately half of the armagnacs produced and bottled by Darroze are distilled by a mobile distiller or by the producers themselves. For the rest, Marc Darroze uses a traditional 7 plate still, heated with gas from 1948. The ABV of the new-make spirit is about 53-55°. 

If there is no rule as to the identity of the distiller in the different product lines, Marc admits an increasing use of his own column still. 

Darroze's column still (©Maison Darroze)
Darroze’s column still (©Maison Darroze)

The aging process

99% of the wood used is pedunculate oak from Gascony and the Pyrenean piedmont. This type of oak with large grains accelerates the development of tannins. 

The aging process starts with the filling of new barrels of 400 liters with the new-make spirits for 2 to 5 years. This will allow a rapid enrichment of the spirit. After that, the armagnacs are transferred in barrels having already been used in order to limit the extraction of woody tones. After 10 or 15 years, the armagnacs are transferred to inactive casks. After 60 years, the armagnacs are transferred to “dames-jeannes” where they will remain until bottling. 

The aging process is natural with little or no reduction and no sweetening at bottling.

One of the Darroze's cellars (©Maison Darroze)
One of the cellars (©Maison Darroze)

Darroze has about 1600 barrels in its cellars in Labastide d’Armagnac and Roquefort. As Marc explains, “our cellars are equipped with sprinkler systems that allow us to control humidity. The first ten years of ageing are rather humid, and then drier”. This system allows to play with the profile and the alcohol level of the Armagnacs in a non-interventionist way. Indeed, humidity tends to retain the water present in the spirits, which allows a natural and constant reduction of the alcohol level and gives rather round armagnacs. On the contrary, a dry environment will contribute to a greater evaporation of the water contained in the brandies, which will concentrate the alcohol and give drier armagnacs. Approximately 50,000 bottles are sold each year.

The product lines

The Blanches Armagnac

The three grape varieties baco, ugni blanc and folle blanche are bottled at 49°.

The Blanches Armagnac (@Maison Darroze)
The ‘Blanche Armagnac’ range (@Maison Darroze)

Darroze Biologic

This collection gives the first role to the folle blanche, grown organically and bottled at natural strength in blends and as vintages. 

Darroze Biologic range
The Darroze Biologic range

The Collection Unique

This is THE collection that has made Darroze’s reputation: the aim with this range is to highlight the diversity of Bas-Armagnac. Each spirit is a vintage, aged in its own barrel and bottled at its natural degree. Great importance is given to the information mentioned on the label, such as the producer from which the armagnac comes. On the website, you will find a detailed description of each partner producer (past or present). 

The collection currently includes more than 300 different armagnacs. The bottling is sometimes done on demand.

The Collection Unique (©Maison Darroze)
The ‘Collection Unique’ range (©Maison Darroze)

The Grands Assemblages

Like his family members (his cousins and his sister Hélène) who continue to distinguish themselves through the quality of their dishes, Marc Darroze also crafts his Bas-Armagnac blends with intelligence and panache. While the Unique Collection implies letting go of the trajectory that the armagnac takes during the aging process, the Grands Assemblages range allows to play the card of consistency (there is always a third of the old batch in the blending of the new batch) and to print a particular style to each of the 7 age counts. A slight reduction to 43° is practiced except for the 50 and 60 years old which are bottled at their natural degree of 42°.

The Grands Assemblages range
‘Les Grands Assemblages’ range

The Luxe Gascon

This collection presents very small batches of very old vintages bottled in crystal decanters (40 to 120 decanters maximum per vintage).

The 'Luxe Gascon' range (©Mathieu Anglada)
‘Le Luxe Gascon’ range (©Mathieu Anglada)

Markets & sales

Darroze achieves 35% of its sales in France, relying on a solid presence in restaurants and cellars, thanks to the gastronomic background. Its main export markets are the USA, China, Russia (before the war), Germany and England.

An acknowledged know-how

Darroze has been labelled Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company) label, which distinguishes French companies with artisanal and industrial know-how. In addition, the company is a member of the Cartel, a group of producers of high-quality artisanal spirits, including Longueteau (agricultural rums from Guadeloupe), Dupont (Calvados Pays-d’Auge), Michel Couvreur (whisky), Drouet (cognac) as well as Metté (Alsace marcs and fruit brandies) and Jacoulot (marcs & Burgundy fines, liqueurs), which we have already talked about here.

Tasting notes

The samples were kindly provided by the producer. The same tulip glasses were used for all the vintages. The tastings took place over approximately 1 hour.

Darroze Biologic 4 years old, 47,5° (bottled March 2023) – around 38€. 

Darroze Biologic 4 years old

Color: pale gold. 

Nose: opens with notes of hay and sugar. The second ground is marked by notes of coated almonds (‘dragées’), spices (vanilla, cinnamon), caramel and light tobacco. The background presents notes of pears cooked in butter as well as a touch of varnish and menthol. 

Mouth: the attack is frank without being too sharp. The mid-palate is dry and woody with notes of marzipan and licorice, tobacco, and cocoa. The finish is of medium length, salivating, fresh and mentholated supported by notes of black pepper and a hint of coffee.

Les Grands Assemblages 12 years, 43° – around 57€.

Le Grands Assemblages 12 years old

Color: golden with amber reflections. 

Nose: opens with notes of quince and linden. The second ground is marked by notes of spices (Java long pepper, Mexican vanilla, touch of licorice), leather, plum as well as a certain freshness (eucalyptus and white flowers). Some fruity notes (blood orange, pomegranate) complete the whole in the background. 

Mouth: the attack is rather soft. The mid-palate is dry, woody with notes of vanilla, blond tobacco, milk chocolate with aniseed in retro-olfaction. The finish is of medium length with notes of black pepper.

Les Grands Assemblages 50 ans, 42° – around 295€.

Les Grands Assemblages, 50 years old

Color: dark copper. 

Nose: opens with light notes of humus, pine nuts, waxed wood and cedar. The second ground is marked by a fruity register (candied cherry, flamed banana, stewed vine peach, blackberry jam) and hazelnut praliné. The background is marked by notes of dashi broth, leather, coffee cream and rancio. A touch of freshness (rose, verbena) completes the whole.  

Mouth: the attack is moderate. The mid-palate is balanced: rather dry without being tannic, marked by notes of red plum, spices (caraway, cinnamon) and rancio (fresh walnut, liquorice, prune). Notes of pu’erh tea mixed with tobacco carry the whole into a very long, slightly earthy and ferruginous finish.

Bas Armagnac, Domaine de Cantau 2008, 50° – around 79€.

Domaine de Cantau 2008

Color: copper. 

Nose: opens on a pastry register (buttered notes, pastries, coconut cake) which then assert itself in the background. With aeration, notes of toasted bread and spices (allspice) appear. The background is marked by notes of blood orange, candied fruit and chocolate with almond filling. A touch of freshness (sandalwood) completes the whole in the background. 

Mouth: the attack is moderate. The mid-palate is concentrated and juicy with fruity notes (plum, quince, dried apricot), spices (vanilla, cinnamon, liquorice, nutmeg, star anise) completed by a floral touch. The finish is long on vanilla and almond.

Bas-Armagnac, Château de Lahitte 1986, 46,5° (spec sheet) – around 126€.

Château de Lahitte 1986

Color: tawny. 

Nose: opens with notes of varnished wood. The second ground is marked by notes of dark chocolate, spices (cardamom, allspice, white pepper) and candied orange. With aeration, notes of roasted dried fruits (pecan, hazelnut) and rancio appear. A slightly animal register runs through the whole completed by a floral point (rose). 

Mouth: the attack is both round and frank. The mid-palate is dry, tannic, woody with notes of liquorice. In the background, fruity notes (quince, apricot), slightly floral (violet) with a hint of hazelnut can be felt. The finish is rather long on notes of grilled dried fruits.

Bas-Armagnac, Château de Gaube 1964, 43° (spec sheet) – around 397€.

Château de Gaube 1964

Color: dark copper. 

Nose: opens with mentholated, encaustic and red plum notes. The second ground is marked by notes of humus, cedar, dried fruits (roasted hazelnuts and pecans, touch of peanut), fried mushrooms, verbena, rancio (prune, dried fig) and coffee (roasted coffee beans, coffee cream). Discreet notes of salted butter caramel and spices (star anise, cinnamon) can be distinguished in the background. 

Mouth: the attack is rather soft. The mid-palate is half-bodied, marked by woody notes accompanied by plum notes. Notes of rancio are expressed in retro-olfaction. The finish is long and fresh with a touch of lavender and rosemary.


What is striking about Darroze is the freshness of the different vintages regardless of their age. If the quality is there in all cases, I particularly liked the ‘gourmandise’ and the length of the Domaine de Cantau 2008 as well as the 50 years old for its complexity and its classy finish. The organic 4 year old has a very nice mouthfeel while the Château de Lahitte 1986, rather dry and tannic, is less charming but would certainly be an ideal partner to break up the richness of certain dishes. The 1964 Château de Gaube is amazingly fresh.

In a nutshell

Darroze has been an essential armagnac brand for connoisseurs for several years.  Based on an intelligently built range, sometimes showing complexity and balance through the blends, sometimes highlighting the ‘frankness’ of the single casks, the Darroze strives to express with honesty and transparency (two adjectives that resonate strongly with Monsieur Baco’s approach) the nuances of Bas-Armagnac and the know-how of the thirty or so producers who supply their spirits. The quality/price ratio is truly stellar (count less than 300€ for the 50 year old) and the generosity of the Gascony is there. You can’t afford to miss Darroze.

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