Brandy is a spirit distilled from grapes. The spirit distilled from any other fruit other than grapes are fruit brandies and must be named after the fruit combined with the word brandy.
Some examples: Cherry brandy, Peach brandy, Apricot brandy, etc.
Brandy is produced by all the countries that produce wine. Cognac and Armagnac are brandies from France.
Production Process of Armagnac
These are the steps of the Armagnac production process:
1. Base Wine and Distillation
The base wine made from the grapes mentioned earlier is very acidic and dry. It is then sent for distillation which should be completed by the end of April following the year of harvest as per law.
The traditional still used in the production of Armagnac is continuous still. The continuous still used for Armagnac preparation is different from the continuous still used in the production of other spirits.
The still has a shorter rectifier column with a few plates in it. Since the rectifying column is shorter, the spirit produced in this still is not highly rectified like other spirits, such as vodka or grain whiskey.
The spirit obtained in this still has 53% abv which is lower compared to cognac and has more congeners left.
2. Aging and Blending
After the Armagnac distillation, the young Armagnac very quickly contributes color and flavor to the Armagnac.
Armagnac gets its characteristics after 8-10 years of aging and is fully matured after 20 years. The addition of caramel or sugar is not permitted in the Armagnac production process.
Following are the terms used to indicate the age of Armagnac, which is the same as for Cognac but with slight modifications,
- Three-Star- Minimum one year, but it should be a minimum of three years in the UK.
- VO and VSOP- Minimum of four years.
- XO, Très Vieille Réserve, Vieille Relique, Napoléon- Minimum five years. Hors d’Age is used for brandies over twenty-five years old. The age mentioned on the label indicates the age of the youngest brandy in the blend. In French flat bottle in which most Armagnac is sold is called Basques.
Brand Names of Armagnac
These are some popular Armagnac brands:
- Marquis de Puységur.
- Marquis de Montesquieu.
- Armagnac Lapstolle.