Armagnac is the oldest wine spirit, produced by distilling white wines grown in three delimited regions: Armagnac-Ténarèze, where Château de Cassaigne is located, Bas-Armagnac and Haut-Armagnac.
White wine spirit
The Armagnac appellation did not appear in the Cassaigne archives until the 19th century. Before that, the bishops and their successors at Cassaigne had been producing white wine spirit since the Middle Ages. Distillation prevents the yearly production of white wine going to waste, since it ages poorly. When winter arrived, an itinerant distiller would set up their still in the château and distil the wines between 58 and 65°C depending on the quality of the wine. White wine spirits present another advantage – the volumes are smaller than those of wines and they can be easily transported to the local market in Condom or by boat on the Baïse River up to Bordeaux.
The barrel revelation
In the 18th century, merchants stored wine spirits in oak barrels to compensate for production inconsistencies. Later on, they discovered the benefits of storing wine spirits for a long time in oak barrels: they developed a beautiful colour, as well as added roundness and complexity. The result was Armagnac as we know it today.