The Armagnac adventure

The Armagnac Adventure

This week we’ve seen January out in true Liquid Indulgence style by taking a trip to Gascony, France to discover the real world of Armagnac. Escorted by the brilliant Eric Sendra we visited 8 distilleries in total across the three regions.

Our reasons for doing this?

My main aim was to become a true connoisseur of Armagnac, which I hope you think I’ve achieved when you read this blog. The main aim for Liquid Indulgence however was to select a range of Armagnac’s that not only possess high quality but also a unique story. Here’s what we discovered.

The Basics of Armagnac

So before we indulge in our discoveries let’s start off by asking the obvious question…

What is it?

Armagnac is a spirit made from grapes and is part of the Brandy family. It can only be made from the following grapes;

  • Ugni Blanc
  • Folle Blanche
  • Colombard
  • Baco Blanc

The blend is at the discretion of the winemaker. For example, Chateau Garreau primarily use Baco with just a hint of Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc. Others may use primarily Ugni Blanc with only small amounts of the remaining grapes. It is the choice of blend (and the ageing process) that makes the aromas of Armagnac different from distillery to distillery.

Where is it?

There are three areas in Gascony where Armagnac can be made.

  • Bas Armagnac
  • Armagnac-Tenaréze
  • Haut Armagnac

Bas Armagnac is known as the most prestigious area and is home to the golden triangle of Armagnac. Armagnac is renowned for being highly fragrant and long on the palate. It is in the ‘golden triangle’ that the highest quality spirits are produced. However, producing in the ‘golden triangle’ isn’t the be all and end all. Yes, the quality of the grapes is important but the distilling and ageing process are two other factors to consider.

What does it taste like?

The primary aromas include vanilla, toffee, orange peel, spice and fresh fruit such as prune and cherry. As the ageing process increases, the aromas become much more mature and developed. The fruit becomes much more intense on the palate and notes of rancio are present. Rancio is a collection of aromas which describes an older vintage (25YO+) of spirit. Expect aromas of leather, coffee, tobacco and peppery spices.

The type of grape used also influences the aroma. Ugni Blanc and Folle Blanche are quite floral whilst Baco Blanc tends to be fruitier. Colombard is citrusy with a high acidity.

Distilling

Unlike Cognac, which is distilled twice, Armagnac is distilled just once using an Alambic pot. Although only distilled once, the distillation process can take as long as 4 months, from the 1st December to the 31st March. The diagram below shows the process of distillation.

 

distillation process of Armagnac

The distillation process using an Alambic pot.

 

 

 

Find out more about the distillation process here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ageing

By law Armagnac must be aged a minimum of two years, except for Armagnac blanche. Discover the ageing process here.

Old oak barrels

Old oak barrels used to age a 1996 and 1984 Armagnac at J. Goudoulin distillery.

Oak barrels used for the ageing process at Jean Cave.

Oak barrels used for the ageing process at Jean Cave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Different types

Click on the links below to find out more about each type;

What’s next?

The next step of our discovery is to introduce 8 Armagnacs into the Liquid Indulgence range. We know that everybody’s palate is different so our goal is to have a diverse and unique range that will appeal to each one of our customers.

Keep up to date with our journey by subscribing to our mailing list.
If you have any unanswered questions about Armagnac please get in touch at cheers@liquidindulgence.co.uk or call the office on 01904 448288.

by Rebekah Hilton

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