Armagnac: The World’s Oldest Brandy

Armagnac: The World’s Oldest Brandy

What is Armagnac? 

Armagnac is a brandy produced in the Gascony region of southwest France. It is distilled using wine made from a combination of four grapes: Ugni blanc, Bacco 22A, Colombard, and Folle blanche. Unlike its cousin Cognac, which uses the standard pot still for distillation, Armagnac is distilled using a traditional Alembic still, which is mobile, upright, and must continuously operate by burning wood. 

Armagnac the world's oldest spirit

History of Armagnac 

Armagnac’s roots date back to the very beginning of the history of distillation – it is the oldest liquor on record to ever be distilled. Like many other liquors have been in the early days of distilling, it was first used for its medicinal benefits. It was first written about in 1310 when Cardinal Vital du Four wrote of its 40 virtues in his text, “To keep your health and stay on top form.” 

Armagnac Distillation 

Many of Armagnac’s key differentiators can be attributed to its distillation method. The spirit is only run through the Alembic still once, removing less of the “impurities” that create unique and complex flavors when given time to interact with the wood grain. Cognac, and most other spirits, are double-distilled, producing a more-refined, higher-proof spirit. Armagnac usually has a lower alcohol content than most other spirits because of this single distillation, and it does not need to be diluted with water. 

Armagnac Alembic Still

Aging Process 

Aging in Gascon oak barrels imparts flavors and colors from the wood grain, and reactions with the impurities in the spirit. Armagnac is aged anywhere from 1 to 25 years before being transferred to large glass bottles called “bonbonnes” or “Demi Jeanne” to halt the aging process. Once a spirit leaves the wood barrel and is transferred to glass, its chemical make-up remains the same for however long it is stored. 

Armagnac Aging in Oak Barrels

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