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What is Armagnac?
Cognac and Armagnac are both French brandies made from white wine grapes. Unsurprisingly, Cognac is made in Cognac and Armagnac is made in Armagnac, in the Gascony region. While the two carry similarities, they also have some differences. Both Cognac and Armagnac are made from a shockingly undrinkable wine. However, Cognac typically only uses the Ugni Blanc grape, while Armagnac uses three additional grape varietals: Folle blanche, Colombard, and Baco Blanc. This thin wine is then distilled for both brandies; Cognac goes through two rounds of distillation in pot stills, while Armagnac only goes through one in a column still. This difference in process greatly affects the end product.
Even though they’re made from grapes, both Cognac and Armagnac are strong, heavy spirits that we’d advise against gulping. When tasting Armagnac, a trick is to dab your finger in the glass and then dab it onto the back of your hand. Once the liquid has evaporated, smell it up close: you should be able to detect dried fruits, like apricots and figs, or perhaps a bit of butterscotch and licorice. Cognac is a widely known product, whereas Armagnac is more of a local hit. That said, Armagnac is still sold all over the world, so there’s nothing preventing you from enjoying both types of brandy.
- VinePair: Aliza Kellerman