The dominance of cognac in the French spirit markets has created over the years a market inferiority complex, perhaps partly because the region has always been much poorer than regions to the north, but also because understanding of the spirit and its history has never been fully explored.
The Bureau National Interprofessionel de l’Armagnac (BNIA), is much smaller than its Cognac counterpart and cites some of the benefits of the golden nectar, especially the therapeutic qualities claimed by one doctor of medicine, Prior Vital Dufour who was ordained Cardinal of the Catholic church by Pope Clement in 1313. Amongst some of its 40 virtues it is claimed… "it fries the egg, conserves meat cooked or crude, and in the presence of herbs, extracts their virtues. It cures gout, canker and fistula by ingestion, restores the paralysed member by massage and heals wound of the skin by application. It renders men joyous, preserves youth and retards senility".
In 1909 a decree defined the permitted boundaries for the production of armagnacs, by organising three large boundaries or crus. Bas armagnac has the largest production of armagnac and is regarded by most as having the finest armagnacs. 57% of all production comes from this region. The main town in the region is Eauze. To the east is the smallest cru of Tenarèze, whose market town and traditional capital of Armagnac is Condom. This region produces about 40% of all armagnacs. This leaves the third cru, Haut Armagnac, with such a small production that their products are rarely seen, the region mainly being created to meet 19th century market demands.
During the war supplies of the spirits stagnated and markets were difficult to supply, leading to many producers suffering financial difficulties. Today, armagnacs biggest market is Britain followed by Japan, Spain and Germany, but by the turn of the 20th century only 20,429 hectolitres of pure alcohol were produced.