We Tried It! Armagnac Tasting on Viking Seaby Sherri Eisenberg | May 31, 2016
What It’s Really Like
The tasting takes place at the bar of the intimate Torshavn club, a dark music venue where vintage Armagnacs dating back to 1935 line the glass shelves behind the bar. (Viking Sea actually has the biggest collection on the high seas.) It includes glasses lined up in front of each place on a wooden board, paired with small squares of chocolate, which help bring out the flavor of the brandy. First comes the introduction: Popular in the French countryside, Armagnac has been designed to hold up to the rich and fatty duck, pork, and foie gras-laden dishes of the region in Gascony where it is produced.
The tasting, held on sea days, starts with a VSOP that was aged four years in French oak barrels, then moves on to a 15-year Armagnac with notes of wood and leather, and a 20-year-old Armagnac that’s smoother and tastes like almonds. The chocolate, too, gets richer as the flavors of the brandy deepen.
The pours are large — you may not want to come on an empty stomach — and the explanations are as simple or complex as the group requires. The more questions you ask and interest you show, the more information the bartender will share. If you’ve ever swirled and sipped an Armagnac or were curious to know more about this brandy, the lesser-known cousin to those produced in the Cognac region about 100 miles away, the tasting is a lovely way to learn.
The Scoop: The tasting is $25 per person for the three pours, or $35 including a fourth glass, which is an Armagnac from 1960. If you like Armagnac, it’s a deal — that last one regularly goes for $75 a snifter.
Sherri Eisenberg is a New York City-based writer and editor. She is the former editorial director of ShermansCruise.