Basically a grape brandy which is primarily produced from grape varieties like Colombard, Baco 22A, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc, Armagnac is made in Gascony region of France, south of Bordeaux. Armagnac is distilled just once, but most often aged for several decades.
The Story of Armagnac
Armagnac is believed to be the oldest brandy in France with original records dating back to 1411. Armagnac predates Cognac by almost 200 years. However, Armagnac remained a local product due to the location of the region which was away from the coast. Only after River Baise was canalized exporting Armagnac became easier. Armagnac was initially produced in large alembic stills until verdier stills were created by a local peasant and patented in 1818. Verdier stills allowed more flavor to be retained from original wine alongside increasing complexity and setting it apart from Cognac. The resulting spirit is then aged in 400-liter oak casks for at least 2 years before it can be termed Armagnac.
Types of Armagnac
This brandy is divided into two main categories, vintage and non-vintage Armagnac. While vintage Armagnac is distilled from grapes produced in a single year with date displayed on bottle, non-vintage Armagnac can either be labeled according to age including number of years quoted relating to the youngest component of blend or by categories of time.
Armagnac VS Cognac
Both, Armagnac & Cognac are grape brandies but produced in different regions of France. While Armagnac comes from Gascony region, Cognac is made in Charente & Charente-Maritime departments to the north of Bordeaux. Moreover, Armagnac is almost always distilled just once, while Cognac usually goes through double distillation. This is why Armagnac has a more robust flavor profile and body and aged for longer periods of time than Cognac. Armagnac requires more time to allow flavors to integrate and for removal of impurities which remain following distillation process. Production of Armagnac nowadays largely remains in hands of small producers in comparison with big brands prevalent in Cognac.