Armagnac is often referred to as the oldest and youngest brandy in France. The oldest because it was first distilled in the middle of the 15th century in adapted perfume stills, probably brought over by the Moors. It is regarded as the youngest because the Armagnaçais are still arguing over how to distil it. The Armagnac region has always been a very special example of that exclusive concept, la France profonde. It is located well away from the madding crowds, motorways and the industrial eyesores of modern France, about a hundred miles south of Bordeaux. The gentle, fair and fertile countryside is a land of near perfect rural paradise and home to rich food such as foie gras and truffles. Countless small firms distil their wine here by using a single or continuous distillation method. The distillation range is between 52 – 72 % abv which allows a greater fruitiness in the spirit, although usually at the expense of smoothness and refinement of the brandy. The grapes used are similar to those grown for making cognac. Armagnac is also aged in oak barrels for many years, until perfected, and then removed from the wood and kept in glass bonbonnes. Some very rare, old armagnacs may date from the 19th century. Others still share the exclusivity with the fruitiness and rich, pruney flavours created in this land of rural bliss, known today as Gascony.
The armagnac vineyard area (around twelve thousand hectares) is only about a fifth of the size of its big brother cognac, to the north. However, the individual skills of the many small producers have created a wealth of individual, aged armagnacs. The range of vintages available from the twentieth and twenty first centuries is immense but the stock of each is rapidly dwindling as demand outstrips supply. Here at Brandyclassics we stock a range beyond the reach of many collectors and connoisseurs and we specialise in those from the top cru, Bas Armagnac.