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. Older Armagnacs sung, with the SCV Beraut’s Château de Pellehaut Ugni Blanc 40 YO Armagnac winning the Armagnac Trophy as well as scoring an impressive 98 points.
On the single-vintage front, Château de Lacquy’s Baco 2001 Bas-Armagnac offered spicy with notes of straw, almond, tropical fruit, and attractive oak, while for those seeking out a younger, fresher style, Côquetelers’ 100% Colombard Blanche Armagnac delivered ‘exquisite florality’ and a ’rounded silky palate, great texture and freshness with persistent fruit, some vanilla, and delicate spiciness.’
Every bottle at this year’s IWSC was tasted blind by a top panel featuring some of the best palates in the business, including Club O columnist and spirits expert Joel Harrison, spirits buyer Guy Hodcroft, and spirits educator Hannah Lanfear.
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.
Ten award-winning Armagnacs at the IWSC 2022
- Château de Lacquy, Baco 2001 Bas-Armagnac. 98/100
- SCV Beraut, Château de Pellehaut Ugni Blanc 40 YO Armagnac. 98/100
- Domaine Tariquet, Pure Folle Blanche 12 YO Armagnac. 98/100
- Domaine Tariquet, Bas-Armagnac 1995. 96/100
- Castarède, 25 Ans Armagnac. 95/100
- Alambic, Récapet VSOP Armagnac. 91/100
- Scea Château Saint Aubin, Bas-Armagnac Age 10. 91/100
- Côquetelers, 100% Colombard Blanche Armagnac. 91/100
- Armagnac Janneau, 12 YO Grand Armagnac. 91/100
- Louis Marie de Castelbajac, 700 Bas-Armagnac. 89/100
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
Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.