One of the world's two great brandies (the other being cognac), Armagnac comes from Gascony, near Condom, a town southeast of Bordeaux. It's traditionally distilled once (as opposed to cognac's double distillation) at a relatively low temperature. This single distillation leaves more flavoring elements and produces a hearty, full-flavored spirit that's silky smooth. Armagnacs are aged in black oak (for up to 40 years), which imparts more flavor and allows for faster aging than the Limousin used for Cognac. Despite the fact that Armagnac was first made at least 200 years before cognac, the latter outsells Armagnac today by almost seven to one.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.