Armagnac must be matured in oak barrels. Oak barrels are permeable and they absorb a significant amount of liquid over time. As much as 5% of the volume of the new spirit we put into a cask will be quickly absorbed into the thirsty wood when it is initially filled – but it does not stop there.
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Barrel-aged cocktails have been popping up at high-end bars for quite some time, but no two barrel-aged cocktails are the same. We've seen plenty of Negronis and Old Fashioneds, but some bartenders have been getting a lot more creative.
When a cocktail is barrel aged, a number of compounds define what we recognize as key flavor identifiers of aged products: dry, nutty, vanilla, fruity, sweet, toasted, etc. We can break down the reactions that produce these flavors in three categories: infusion, oxidation and extraction
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
As you’re probably aware, liquor labels can be a bit confusing. You’ve seen them—letters like VS, VSOP, XO. So what does it all mean? Before you try to rearrange the letters like some kind of Sunday jumble, just remember this: all the letters on any bottle of Armagnac you’ll see refer to one thing: Aging.