The Joy of Harvest Season: Armagnac

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Many people have heard and likely enjoyed Cognac, but have you ever tried Armagnac?  If not, the approaching autumn is the perfect time to try it.  Armagnac and Cognac are both similar with subtle, delicious differences.  I prefer Armagnac on a crisp, fall day after dinner or at an outdoor function in a slightly warmed glass.

Both spirits are made from a white grape wine that is fairly undrinkable as far as wine goes. In the French spirit of wasting nothing, the grapes specifically used to make Armagnac are planted and grown near apple trees to give it a fruity, earthy flavor.  Armagnac is also less distilled than Cognac, only ridding the spirit of its impurities once.  Cognac is distilled twice. Finally, Armagnac requires little to no aging, where as Cognac requires at lest three years in an oak barrel.

Single distillation is an important point and probably the reason I prefer Armagnac to Cognac.  Armagnac has more flavor.  I enjoy the taste of apples and apricots as I sip it.  It also pairs well with all things apples; including poultry, carmel, cinnamon and cardamom.

For a treat, add a spoon of slightly sweetened whipping cream to the top of your glass of warmed Armagnac.  Add it to Wassail punch instead of rum or mulled wine.  This week, I will show you how to use Armagnac and apples to make Cornish game hens that will make you forget cooking a turkey when company comes over.  This will be your new autumn go-to dish.

Best of all, while Armagnac is lesser known, it still is widely available in Europe, Canada and the United States.  It’s fairly inexpensive (although you could buy some very vintage versions to give as gifts.)  And it is a little bit of northern France that can be shared at your table.  It certainly will be shared this fall at mine.

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