“Armagnac” is a brandy like Cognac, but not whiskey

I’ve been adding a couple of splashes of this belly-warming liquor into my mug of hot chocolate during the cold snap these past couple of days. It tastes great after a long, chilly bike ride or a brisk walk through the village.

Like the moelleux I described earlier, I didn’t actually know what it was.

My host Sue said it was like Cognac, but not actually Cognac (to be honest, I don’t really know what Cognac is either, except that you swish it in a round-bottomed glass, and it burns in your throat and belly.)

For explanation, importer Charles Neal writes that while the two spirits come from this very southwest region of France, they vary in a number of ways. In The Difference Between Cognac and Armagnac he compares grapes, geography, oak (barrel), distillation, varietal (single grape vs. blended), and taste.

See also his story What is Armagnac? Armagnac pre-dates Cognac by about 150 years.

On taste, he gets all expert-y and describes what the spirit evokes (“vanilla, caramel, toffee, buttered toffee, maple syrup and exotic note of coconut milk”). I tried a sip of straight Armagnac to taste it, and—to me it evoked Canadian rye whiskey.

And that’s not a bad thing. This week Canada shocked the world—especially the Scots—by producing the best whisky in the world. Reports The Telegraph,

The Scots are renowned for their whisky but, for the second year in a row, whisky from another country has been named the best in the world.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, a Canadian malt whisky, was awarded 97.5 marks out of 100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, earning it the title of world whisky of the year.

Now I can sip Armagnac less ignorantly, though I’m still not sure how to pronounce it.

Next on the list: Beaujolais Nouveau. I don’t know if it’s from this region, but I do know that it’s half price at €3.75 at the local Carrefour.

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Writer, rider, traveller.

One thought on ““Armagnac” is a brandy like Cognac, but not whiskey”

  1. Local cyclist Colin W. of Lauzun wrote in response,

    “Just read your article about Armagnac – you really need to go to the Gers to find out more.

    “My favourite village is Labastide D’Armagnac. You can stay at the Château Du Prada – which has been in the same family since the 18th century – on the edge of this village – and also enjoy a meal there with home grown food, wine and Armagnac. There is also a bar in the back streets run by a very old lady. Décor 1920’s with old posters of bull fighting. She keeps her change in old sardine tins.

    “The very popular local drink is Floc de Gascogne – a secret recipe but mainly two thirds grape juice, herbs and one third Armagnac.

    “Bit of a cycle ride but well worth it.”

    Liked by 1 person

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