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. Single vintage Armagnacs sung, with Bhakta Spirits’ 1973 Armagnac, for example, scoring an impressive 98 points.
Long-aged examples like Domaine Tariquet’s Pure Folle Blanche 25 Ans Armagnac offered ‘crème caramel complexity’, while for those seeking out a younger, fresher style, Château Saint Aubin’s Ugni Blanc Blanche Armagnac delivered ‘sweet apple, grassy sugar cane and white pepper’ and was among the Gold medal scorers.
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 contributor Colin Hampden-White and spirits buyer Guy Hodcroft.
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
Club Oenologique is a premium lifestyle publication for curious and discerning wine and spirits lovers. Renowned for inspiring stories and trusted expertise, we connect people to the joys of the world, through the lens of wine, spirits and other interesting drinks. Based in London, our team of expert writers seek out thoughtful stories that introduce our readers to new people, places, drinking discoveries and insights, as well as exploring fresh perspectives on familiar themes. Membership to The Collection offers exclusive access to leading critics’ tasting reports, scores, tastings and events, especially tailored to collectors and investors. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors.