What is Armagnac and how is it different from brandy?
The Differences Between Cognac and Armagnac
Armagnac is an increasingly popular spirit, but few people know the difference between Armagnac and cognac. Both Armagnac and cognac are both grape brandies from France, but so far cognac has enjoyed much more widespread popularity than Armagnac. That is, until now.
Although they are similar, many differences remain between cognac and Armagnac . For one, although both are made of the Ugni Blanc grape, cognac is comprised primarily of this grape (about 98 percent), but Armagnac has a lot more diversity, as it is made up of Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard, and Bacco grapes. Both can be aged in Limousin oak, but Armagnac is also made in Gascon oak while cognac is sometimes aged in Tronçais oak.
The differences in oak barrels are due to geographic differences and the different forests available in those regions. Each spirit carries the name of its region of origin. The geographic region also affects how the wine is made and from which grapes. Armagnac grapes are grown on sandy soil in warm southern France. Cognac grapes on the other hand are grown on chalky soil near the Atlantic coast, about 100 miles north the Armagnac region.
These may seem like small differences, but they add up to produce a strikingly different product. Armagnac has a stronger fruit flavor because of its diverse array of grapes and also because vapors from distillation are trapped inside. Armagnac often features flowers and other fruits like orange, plum, and apricot. Cognac fruits are usually lighter, like pear, and can have a stronger floral flavor.
Cognac is overall more herbal than Armagnac. Cognac’s oak aging delivers a degree of spice and herbal tones. Armagnac, by comparison, is aged in oak that produces vanilla, caramel, toffee, maple syrup, and even coconut flavors.
Armagnac is a great bottle to have in the bar if you like brandy or cognac, if you are willing to try something new (and reap the reward of it).
The Gascon Sidecar
2 oz. Armagnac
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. lemon juice
1.Chill a tall cocktail glass in the freezer or fill it with ice to cool it down.
2.Combine the Armagnac, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker or in a mixing glass. Top it off with ice and stir the cocktail.
3.Strain the cocktail into the chilled glass and garnish with the slice of lemon.
This recipe is for one cocktail, but you can multiply the ingredients to create larger batches. Also, to create a regular Sidecar instead, just substitute brandy for the Armagnac.