The region is located in Gascony, in the south-western part of France, the brandy known as Armagnac was first produced in the fifteenth century. As for Cognac, the grape variety used to make Armagnac is trebbiano, known in France as ugni blanc or Sent-Emilion. Other minor grapes used are picpoul, jurancon and plant de grece. The grapes are picked before they are fully ripe and mature to ensure high acidity, a key component in the finished product. The low-alcohol wine (9 to 10 per cent) is immediately distilled in a continuous still, and all distillation must be completed by 30 April of the spring following the harvest. Limousin oak and Troncais oak are used for aging Armagnac, an element as important as the grapes or the soil in producing the distinctive flavor that makes Armagnac unique.
Armagnac will continue to improve in oak for up to about fifty years, at which point the flavor of the fruit dries out. Once Armagnac reaches a desired age, which varies according to each house, it is put into glass demijohns covered with wicker to protect it from the light. Once the Armagnac goes into glass, like other spirits, it no longer changes. Armagnac may or may not be vintage-dated. It may also be blended. If it is both vintage-dated and blended, the vintage indicated will denote the youngest year in the blend. The designation of Three Stars on the label of Armagnac is not the vintage date but how long the Armagnac was aged in wood. Armagnac has a stronger flavor than Cognac or Brandy, and it can not be substituted for all brandy cocktails.