Armagnac & Whisky: What's the difference?
Many who enjoy Armagnac also love Whisky – or Whiskey – and Bourbon. And yes, many people are aware that Armagnac is made from grapes, and Whisky from grain. But the story certainly doesn’t end with the grape versus grain saga.
Before we talk about the differences between Armagnac and Whisky, let's mention a couple of similarities. Both are fermented and convert sugar to ethanol. And they’re both aged in wooden barrels: In general, the longer they age, the smoother the taste becomes.The spirits pick up quite a lot from these wooden barrels – and this includes both color and taste.
Grapes vs. grains
There are really are some major differences between Whiskey and Armagnac. And it all begins with the raw materials, more so than the methods and how to consume the actual product.
Whiskey is made from grain, most usually barley. That is then mixed with water and yeast and is then distilled. The spirit is then aged in oak barrels.
As already mentioned, Armagnac is made from grapes – the juice of which is fermented creating an acidic wine that then is single distilled and aged over years in oak casks.
Armagnac is traditionally seen as a digestif. A drink to enjoy after dinner, perhaps with a coffee or paired with a cigar. However, Armagnac is doing a lot to shake off the ‘stuffy old man’ image in recent years. It’s now becoming the drink that the Millennials are falling in love with. You only have to look at the new, trendy Armagnacs on offer to see that the drink is having a surge in popularity with ‘Generation Y’. Top bars and restaurants in Los Angeles are being stocked with Armagnac - and it now features in many cocktails.
Whisky, on the other hand, certainly didn’t fall foul of such a conservative image in recent years. Although it has to be said, it’s still a truly traditional drink. But Whisky didn’t suffer the lack of popularity that Armagnac has.
Regarding how to drink the spirits. Well, there was a time when it would’ve been said that while you add water to a Whisky, you’d never do that with Armagnac. Simply because the structure of each is totally different – because Whisky is grain based and Armagnac is fruit based. But today, this certainly isn’t true. Because there are many Armagnacs that you can certainly add a drop of water to release different flavors. And it’s now perfectly acceptable to take your Armagnac ‘on the rocks’ – in the same way as you might drink a Whisky.
Is Armagnac better than Whisky?
So, as you can see there are some major differences between Armagnac and Whisky. But is one better than the other? Well, that’s something that can only be decided by you. We, of course, are biased towards Armagnac, but we love Whisky (or Whiskey). We don’t think you have to be an ‘Armagnac person’, or a ‘Whiskey person’. You can simply enjoy the best of both.
So go on, Whisky drinkers. Give Armagnac a break and see what’s on offer. You might well be surprised at quite how much you like it.