Armagnac is a grape brandy produced in the Gascony region of southwest France. It is actually the country's first brandy and thought to be Europe's oldest distilled spirit, with a history dating back to the 15th century, at least 150 years before Cognac.
While very similar to Cognac in terms of production, Armagnac is usually only distilled once in a column still, compared to Cognac which tends to be distilled twice in a pot still. The spirit also tends to be aged in new and used oak barrels, which allows it to harmonise and the alcohol to dilute gradually. Because of this, Armagnac tends towards a fuller-bodied, richer style with a hint of rusticity. There is also a wider variety of grapes used, including Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard and Baco Blanc, coming from three sub-regions: Bas Armagnac, Armagnac-Tenareze and Haut Armagnac. Single vintage expressions are often seen in Armagnac along with age statements such as VS (1 to 3 years old), VSOP (4 to 9 years old), Napoleon (6 to 9 years old) and XO (10+ years old).