Armagnac is a type of brandy made in a certain region of France. It’s closely related to the similar, but better known brandy Cognac which is also made exclusively in France. Although there is a similar process to make these two brandies, the resulting difference is huge and noticeable. Armagnac usually hosts a lot of exciting mixtures of earthy, spiced flavors and has a pleasantly strong aroma caused by adding a mixture of different grapes in the initial brewing process.
This is a brandy that can be used for cocktails or taken straight. Straight brandy is a bit strong for some people, which is why you can find pages and pages of recipes for mixed drinks that incorporate Armagnac. Trying new brands of Armagnac can be an exciting experience as there are so many complex variations of flavors and aromas that you can’t predict what one brand will taste like based off of the taste of another brand.
Unlike its more popular cousin, Armagnac has benefitted from standing outside of the spotlight because there are more independent brewers that experiment on different flavor combinations. That’s the main reason you can find so many variations in Armagnac.
BEST BRANDS OF ARMAGNAC
This is a smaller brand, but the high quality they produce in their line of Armagnac might surprise you. Delord produces some of the finest Armagnac brandy there is and their range of flavors can really pair nicely with meals and desserts. For instance, the Blanche Armagnac from Delord has a noticeable taste of prunes and is a very acidic mixture perfect as a dinner drink between courses or with a sweet dessert. Many of their vintages get better with age.
Clos des Saveurs
What might surprise you about this French brand is the age of most of their vintage. You can find some wines from the late 1800s and early 1900s still on shelves today. Clos des Saveurs Armagnac is usually aged for at least 10 years in order to get all the rich, earthy, and nutty flavors of the oak barrels. Some of the older vintages have great tobacco flavors that give them an even richer taste which is very enjoyable.
Domaine du Cardinat
A small family owned winery, this brand tends to produces a wide range of vintages from many years. Their different distillation methods produce wines with more emphasis on the fruit flavors and just a hint of the earthy, rich, spicy flavors that some of the other traditional Armagnac brands feature. Some of the older vintages do bring out the nutty, spicy flavors instead, although it’s difficult to find some vintages for sale anymore as they are becoming more rare.
Chateau de Ravignan
Another family owned winery brand, this French winery follows a very traditional brewing method when making their line of Armagnac vintages. The oak barrels used for aging come from the property itself as do the grapes and almost every other ingredient used to make and flavor the wines. The wide range of vintages each have their unique set of flavors and spices to keep you interested.
Arguably one of the most advanced breweries in the region, Montel makes beautiful crisp, refined, and clean Armagnac. Their vintages are harder to differentiate, although the flavors do come alive even stronger as they have aged for longer periods of time. Most of the Montel brand of Armagnac brandies feature a lovely plum taste with hints of prunes and an earthy nuttiness as they grow older in vintage.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST TASTING BRAND OF ARMAGNAC
Try to read the labels or descriptions of any Armagnac before you order, unless you’re feeling adventurous. There is no way to predict what the flavors and texture of this spirit will be like until you take the first sip, as the brands do not hold a lot of consistency with each other in terms of flavors and specific brewing methods. Don’t let this stop you from trying a new cocktail or buying a fresh bottle of Armagnac though, because if you like brandy at all than this type of brandy can be a lot of fun to drink.