Two readers have kindly commented on my Armagnac post with information about differences between the production of Armagnac and that of Cognac. My wine writing colleague Rick van Sickle noted that unlike Armagnac, Cognac is double distilled. Bruce Heinmiller wrote “Cognac is almost exclusively made from ugni blanc, whereas armagnac includes folle blanche, bacco, and columbard. Indeed, many armagnacs are made exclusively from one of these other grapes. Perhaps they prefer the sandy soils of bas Armagnac (Armagnac’s best region) as opposed to the chalky soils of cognac. The distillation methods between the two brandies are also, in general, quite different. Cognac is double distilled in a pot still (similar to the distillation method used in calvados), whereas almost all armagnac is single distilled in a column still, and to a lower degree alcohol (perhaps up to 55%, rather than over 70% in the case of cognac). Cognac is then generally reduced with water to 40%, as is much of the industrial armagnac production; however, traditional armagnac is often not reduced, other than by the natural losses through the oak barrels with extended aging, and often is released in the range 43% to 48%. I think the column distillation (and distillation to a lower degree) has one of the more pronounced effects in differentiating armagnac from cognac.”
Thanks, fellows. Hey, I think I’m starting to like this “blogosphere” thing!