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Cognac and Armagnac – It is Like Salt and Pepper

Cognac Paradis - Armagnac Baron de Sigognac VSOP

Cognac Paradis - Armagnac Baron de Sigognac VSOP

John W. Fischer in his blog published on November 5th 2011, gives us a rare explanation of what is cognac versus armagnac but also he offers an interesting view on why someone may select armagnac over cognac. The number of people who prefer armagnac over cognac is very limited. I often find that these people do not have a single valid reason for why they prefer armagnac (I will below give you my rational for preferring armagnac). In addition, preferring one over the other is like preferring salt over pepper. You need both in life because their are different and complementary.

At the end, comparing the 2 and saying which one is better makes no sense. But if I had to guess which one people think is better I would say that over 90% of the time people prefer cognac over armagnac. The driving reason for this may be that people do not know armagnac as much as they know cognac. There is 25 times more cognac than armagnac being produced. That just does not make it better – it is just a fact. Armagnac is 200 years older than cognac but that does not make it better either. Cognac has grown faster because of its natural proximity to the ocean which favored international trades for centuries. Remember 95% of the cognac is exported, and this percentage has been pretty much the same since it was created. Anyway, it was created by foreigners for foreigners  (quickly and over-simplified explanation but pretty valid).

Cognacs are generally assembled (blended) for the sake of creating the most balanced products. In many cases, the blends include over 100 different cognacs. Hence, they are smoother than armagnacs where the spirits are much less blended. Also, cognacs are distilled two times whereas traditionally armagnacs are distilled 1 time. The more you distill the smoother it gets. Passed 2 times you are removing significantly the characteristics of what you are distilling. So as a rule of thumb, 1 distillation are for eaux-de-vie, where the spirits are the expression of the fruits being distilled.

2 distillation is good balance where you have the best of both worlds: enough purity and still the complexity and typicity of what you are distilling.

—>Why vodkas are distilled 20 times? The worst the “stuff” you have fermented to generate alcohol the more you need to distill to get to neutrality. Plus some people are pretty bad at distilling so they need more times.

—>Why some vodkas are distilled 9 times or more … (1) it is a marketing gimmick, and (2) they are not good at it. It is like someone telling you a joke and they need to repeat their joke 5 or 10 times to get you to laugh. Either the joke was bad or they were not good at telling the joke.

Going back to armagnac. Advanced spirits tasters look for single grape armagnacs made of colombard or made of only folle blanche. And since it is only made of a single grape one should taste a difference. That is a plus point of armagnacs as they more often make this distinction. The truth is you should taste a difference if the armagnacs are less than 5 years old but passed 5 years old the armagnacs or anything that is aged for that matter start tasting the same. So if someone starts spending a lot of money on very old armagnacs, and even more money because they are single grape armagnacs they are only being snob! Sometime people just know enough to get themselves in more trouble!

However, I will give you some valid reasons why someone may prefer Armagnac in another postings to keep things short and parsimonious.

Link to John Fischer’s article: http://tinyurl.com/8x297zk

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This entry was posted on November 21, 2011 by in Armagnac, Cognacs, Consumer Issues, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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