If cognac is tequila, armagnac is mezcal: Smaller, wilder, and more rustic. I covered the history and production of armagnac in yesterday's post.
In this post I'll cover some of the differences between these two French grape brandies. One difference I forgot to mention below is that they're produced in different parts of France!
|Four primary grape varieties||One primary grape variety (ugni blanc)|
|Usually distilled once in a continuous still.||Distilled twice in pot stills.|
|Features vintages as well as blends||Features more blends, few vintages|
|Is consumed more locally||Is more an export product|
|VS = 1 year minimum||VS = 2 years minimum|
|Often ages in local Gason oak barrels||Ages in Limousin/Troncais oak barrels|
|Often distilled to lower proof ~57%||Distilled higher ~70%|
|Grapes cost the same price whether from Bas Armagnac or Tenareze||Grande Champagne grapes way more expensive than from other regions|
|More sandy soils in region||More chalky soils in region|
|Allows for an unaged product "Blanche De Armagnac"||Technically, no unaged variant permitted|
Beyond production differences, the two aged brandies taste significantly different.
In my opinion, cognac tends to have a very sturdy but subtle backbone of aged grapes, while the aromas are are often delicate, ethereal, and floral.
Armagnac I think of as "foresty," meaning there are often flavors I associate with the forest floor: wood, mushrooms, herbs, dirt. Mmm, dirt.
It's okay to drink them both.