Armagnac doesn’t have the prestige or image of Cognac but it has history on its side. It was first made at least two centuries before its more-famous neighbour got in on the act, and because it’s distilled just once, as opposed to twice in Cognac, there’s a strong argument to say that the best Armagnac generally has greater depth and character.
The other good news is that Armagnacs are usually fantastic value for money, with examples aged for 30 years or more available for around £100 – way cheaper than other similarly aged spirits. Many single-vintage styles are available, too, making them perfect for birthday or anniversary gifts.
The past few years has seen a resurgence in the spirit’s fortunes. It may be regarded as a something of a sleepy spirit by some, but bartenders are attuned to the drink’s multi-faceted charms, and have been championing the drink, whether using well-aged versions to add depth to a cocktail, or young blanche Armagnac to deliver a burst of fruit.
Armagnac performed strongly at this year’s IWSC, with a host of styles all picking up medals. Armagnac Janneau Armagnac Chevalier D’Espalet VS is a relatively young example, aged for just two years, but it scored an impressive 98/100pts and wowed the judges with its beautiful notes of candied orange, caramel, cinnamon and nuts, with a fresh, balanced finish. Janneau’s Blend XO Armagnac was another high-scorer (96/100pts), with stone-fruit aromas combining with dried orange peel, white chocolate and sweet spice.
On the single-vintage front, SCV Beraut Armagnac 2001 offered an abundance of candied prunes with notes of hedgerow fruits and a spicy, toasted-hazelnut finish, while for those seeking out a younger, fresher style, Domaine Tariquet’s Blanche Armagnac delivered notes of jasmine and almond with touches of apple and white pepper.
Every bottle at this year’s IWSC was tasted blind by a top panel featuring some of the best palates in the business, including writer and presenter Neil Ridley, bartender and consultant Nate Brown, and Speciality Drinks head buyer Dawn Davies MW.
A true artisanal spirit that rarely disappoints, it should be on your spirits shortlist if you’ve never tried it before. We’re delighted to present the pick of the best Armagnacs from this year’s IWSC.
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE SPIRITS?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE SPIRITS?
Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE
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