It is not just Wood

While Armagnac requires aging in oak barrels, not just any oak will do. It is critical for Armagnac production to select the right wood and age and dry it to perfection before starting to make the barrels.

Although oak from other regions can legally be used, purists insist on barrels made from the black oak of the local Monlezun forest or the Armagnac Noir forests in the Landes. 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 newly distilled Armagnac.

A cooper hoops the staves around a fire, that is made with wood shavings and oak pieces. The wood must be heated to bend the staves into shape. The amount of toast and the depth of toasting experienced within the stave depend on the heat of the flame, the length it was applied, and the moisture content of the stave. While the wood is heated, a wire is placed around the base of the cask so that it can be tightened to bring the staves closer together.

Finally, they are joined – without any nails – and then the barrel must pass several solidity, heat, and water tests to detect leaks.

Tight-grained, rich in tannins, and deeply colored, Monlezun-sourced oak impart both color and flavor to a great Armagnac as it rests quietly in its 400 liter barrel.