Cognac's Kin

In today’s New York Times, Michael S. Sanders explores one corner of an often neglected world of spirits: Armagnac.

Widely enjoyed in Gascony and largely an afterthought almost everywhere else, Armagnac is Cognac’s less-famous sibling. With its distinctive robust flavor, Armagnac is often thought of as the country bumpkin cousin to the more sophisticated Cognac. Quoting Marc Darroze, whose family has been buying some of the best vintage Armagnac from French farmers and selling it worldwide for more than 50 years, Sanders writes, “If Cognac is feminine, Armagnac is masculine, dense, powerful, individualistic, reeking of terroir.” Where Cognac can be sweet and fruity, Armagnac can be rich and earthy, a close relative with its own inimitable character.

More than 500 bottles of Cognac were imported into the U.S. last year for every bottle of Armagnac. But at a time when the American palate is becoming more adventurous, seeking out regional delicacies with distinctive flavors that set them apart from their more familiar relatives, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more people exploring Armagnac in the next couple of years (and in many fine restaurants and bars, a growing interest can already be seen).

My own experience with Armagnac is woefully limited. Any fans of this intriguing brandy out there who’d like to share their experiences and their favorite bottlings?

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