Armagnac, famous for being France’s first brandy, hails from the Gascony region of France, in the South-west. Some claim it may be the oldest distilled spirit in Europe, dating back to before the 14th century, though we wouldn’t like to bet the ranch on it.
Despite its impressive lineage, it’s often confused with cognac. Both are wine-based spirits, both from South-west France and both produced from similar varieties of grape – but armagnac is the finer, to our mind. Distilled from wine made from Baco 22A, Colombard, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc, using column stills rather than the pot stills used for cognac, it is a complex spirit. To produce the Armagnac, wines are distilled and aged separately in oak barrels, then combined when bottling, which allows for more flexibility when creating the final blend (just ask those alchemical cellar masters). The amber spirit has a richer depth than cognac, and a subtle taste.