A strong alcoholic drink made solely of Armenian grapes grown in the Valley of Ararat is very famous around the world for its quality and unmatched taste. I am not usually a fan of such strong drinks, but after having tasted a little bit, I believe it may become one of my favourites.

A Little History

A number of historians and archaeologists of the last century have found evidence that led them to believe that Armenia was just as famous for wine-making as far back as XIV century BC when their wine was exported to the tables of Roman Emperors. Other sources state that the high quality of Armenian wines was mentioned by ancientArarat Armenian Cognac Greek historians – Herodotus (c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC) and Xenophon of Athens (c. 430 – 354 BC).

The modern history of Armenian cognac as we know it today has begun at the end of the XIX century when Narses Tairyan, an Armenian merchant, set up a 102-bucket sized copper machinery for making the grape spirits (alcohol). But it was not until 1887 when the first Armenian cognac was produced in accordance with a classical French method and was named "Fin-Champagne". Under this name, after the wine-making business was purchased by Nikolay Shustov, did Armenian cognac receive international recognition in the World Exhibition held in Paris in 1900. However, prior to getting world recognition in Paris, you would be amazed at the drastic measures taken to make the Armenian alcoholic drink known and respected in and around the Soviet Union. Stories tell that Shustov paid an aristocratic couple to request the best of Armenian cognac at elite restaurants and create a scandal if the restaurant did not have it stocked. This led to energetic stocking of the wine cellars to make sure they had the best available for the richer population. An amazingly simple and effective marketing step!

Mskhali - Grape sort of ArmeniaWhat is so special about Armenian Cognac?

The true Armenian cognac, as the set production standards state, is not only made from the grape sorts grown in Ararat Valley but also aged in Armenian oaks on the territory of Armenian Republic. Moreover, the drink will no longer be called "Cognac" but Brandy if these conditions are not followed. For example, if the used grapes were imported from another country or the grapes of Armenia were exported to another country to make this drink. What leads me to believe that Armenian cognac may be of benefit to the health are that 1) the traditional grapes of Armenia are grown in very ecologically clean Valley of Ararat where the sun shines 300 days a year, and 2) the water used in cognac-making comes from local spring water sources secured after the Erevan factories. In contrast, the French cognac-making methods involve the use of distilled water. Of course, the cause and effect relationship between Armenian population longevity and drinking of traditional Armenian wine and cognac drinking has not yet been scientifically confirmed but it is the connection many believe.

Last Interesting Fact

There are three categories of Armenian cognac – ordinary, vintage and collectable. The ordinary cognac differs from others by ageing time between 3 and 6 years and depending on how many years the drink spent in oak barrels ageing determines how many stars there will be on the bottle to indicate this fact. The vintage cognac usually six years of ageing or more, but the longer the vintage cognac remains in the oak barrels ageing the more it is considered a collectable.