As a true French native, it is impossible for me to read anything about the popular Cognac without thinking about the similarities, differences, and superiority (in my humble opinion) of Armagnac. Perhaps not as popular as its close relative, Cognac, Armagnac is definitely worthy of mention.
Armagnac originates from Gascony in the Southwest part of France, between Bordeaux and Toulouse. It is the land of D’Artagnan of the The Three Musketeers and home of Cyrano de Bergerac, the famed French fiction writer and duelist.
Serious brandy lovers may be surprised to know that Armagnac is a distinctive type of brandy distilled from wine, aged in oak barrels, but also a cousin to the more popular Cognac. It is in the distillation process where the major differences lie. Cognac is distilled twice whereas Armagnac just once. This additional time in the oak barrel requires patience, but rewards a brandy with more finesse and roundness.
This taste is exactly what drives the Southwestern part of France to continue in their production of Armagnac, along with the health benefits it carries. It may be common knowledge the positive effects Cognac may have after a heavy meal but Armagnac carries these same benefits and beyond. In fact residents of Southwestern France where consumption is the greatest enjoys a coronary mortality rate up to a third lower than their neighbors in Northern France.
Next time you are considering a trip to France, dining, or in the mood for a good brandy, I hope Armagnac comes to mind...