While cognac has a reputation that precedes it, France's other famous brandy, Armagnac, seems to go largely unrecognized here in the States, though it's technically the elder statesman of the category (it's been produced steadily since 1422). If you've found yourself unable to kick back with a snifter of Courvoisier without feeling an ambient sense of irony, Armagnac is your best bet for indulging in the gravity, mystery, and rich flavor profile of a world famous eaux de vie.

Armagnac's basics are similar to cognac's -- it begins with white wine grapes grown in southwest France -- though it is distilled just once, versus cognac's double-distillation, before it begins to the aging process.