Introduction to Armagnac: History and Production
PDT's Jim Meehan on Differences Between the Book and the new App

What's the Difference Between Cognac and Armagnac?

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! 


Armagnac Cognac
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. 

Old bottles Armagnac Janneau