One of the most well-known types of French brandy is Cognac. It’s widely distributed and often inexpensive. But Cognac isn’t the only great French spirit out there. If you’re really looking to get into the wonderful world of French brandy you should try Armagnac.
Cognac and Armagnac are both made from white wine grapes. Cognac is produced in Cognac and Armagnac is made in Armagnac, in the Gascony region. While the two carry similarities, they also have some differences. Cognac typically only uses the Ugni Blanc grape, while Armagnac uses three additional grape varieties: Folle blanche, Colombard, and Baco Blanc. This 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.
Armagnac is often distilled to be lower in alcohol than Cognac. While Armagnac can be aged for a minimum of one year to reach the VS standard, Cognac needs to be aged for at least two years. When it comes to aging, Cognac typically sits in Limousin/Tronçais oak barrels, while Armagnac can also be aged in Gascon oak barrels. Both brandies are sold as either vintages and blends.
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.
Upcoming online spirits courses:
– WSET Level 1 Award in Spirits on June 1st.
– WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits on May 11th.
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Amsterdam, April 29th 2020