Armagnac is one of France’s great AC grape spirits, produced to the south-east of Bordeaux. It can claim a longer history than that of the other great AC spirit, Cognac, with evidence of production dating back to the Moors in the twelfth century. Lying further in land than Cognac, it does not have the maritime influence of its counterpart, but it does enjoy the benefits of drier and warmer summers.
Grapes used in the production of Armagnac primarily consist of Ugni Blanc, Folle Blance and the only hybrid grape variety approved within the French AC system Baco Blanc 22A.
Distillation is different to that adopted by Cognac in that it is generally carried out in a single-distillation resulting in a lower strength spirit (60% abv) yet it retains a higher proportion of flavours as a consequence. Armagnac's are fuller-bodied and rounder in style than the grapey and fragrant style often associated with Cognac
The use of oak is another key factor in the production of Armagnac, with most of the wood sourced locally from forests in the Bas Armagnac and many producers’ age individual casks from a single distillation, which are often sold with a vintage date on them.
The classifications for Armagnac consist of the following:
*** (Three Star): One year old
VSOP: Four years old
XO: Five years old