I read an article in the June 2008 issue of France Today about Armagnac and I’m ready to book my trip to Gascony. Armagnac is the only type of brandy which is produced in vintages sporting noticeable differences from year to year, and unlike Cognac which is double-distilled, Armagnac is distilled only once allowing more distinctive characteristics to be retained. Perhaps some would argue that Armagnac is less refined than Cognac but judging by the following passage, no one can deny that the stuff is dripping with charm:
…by and large armagnac is made in the old-fashioned artisanal way. Although the larger châteaux have their own stills, many small producers continue to rely on traveling alambics that make the rounds after the grapes have been converted into wine…purists insist on barrels made from the black oak of the local Monlezun forest or the Armagnac Noir forests in the Landes. Preferably the staves should be hewn from trees that are at least a hundred years old; the oak is then seasoned for as long as 15 years before it’s deemed ready to host the new-run armagnac.
The article titled Armagnac: Amber Paradox also reveals that Armagnac fends off fat like no other spirit:
The same researchers have since discovered that rats fed on a high-fat diet and armagnac did not gain weight, unlike rats fed the same food and a substitute alcohol.
I was intrigued by this insight since most of my reading on alcohol and weight gain has said that alcohol inhibits fat-burning by up to 73%.
I did a little checking on this Armagnac Study and found that Decanter magazine reported on the findings in an article in February 2007. The Decanter article says that the Armagnac-dosed rats gained less weight compared to rats on the same high-fat diet supplemented with pure ethanol. I couldn’t find the actual study but, I’d wager that Decanter’s telling is a little more accurate. Armagnac isn’t a magic fat-fighting bullet, but it’s better than nothing.
The moral of the story: Foie Gras is still fattening but, it’s considerably less fattening when consumed with Armagnac!