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Philippe Gelas's Tasting method

Tasting is the examination of Armagnacs by the senses. This tasting method is more like perfume analysis than wine tasting

How to taste Armagnac

The glass :
The Armagnac glass must help to contain and then give expression to the aromas. The balloon glass is not the best suited, although it is the type most often proposed for a tasting. The ideal glass is of the “Tulip” type, as shown opposite

Glass warming and the addition of water :
A few decades ago our predecessors presented Armagnacs with a high degree of alcohol under the “Fine Armagnac” name. They then advised reducing the “fire” of the alcohol by warming the glass in the palm of the hand to permit the evaporation of the primary alcohols, or alternatively by adding a few centiliters of water.

Nowadays, we make sure to present Armagnacs ready for tasting and it should be certain that the eau de vie is at room temperature.


now you can start tasting

Phase 1 : visual examination

This focuses on the color, limpidity and viscosity of the glass’ contents.

Colors :
- 0 à 4 years : Pale yellow colourless
- 5 years : Straw yellow
- 10 years : Golden yellow
- 25 years : Amber
- 40 years : Mahogany
- 60 years : Fire red

Limpidity: “the fingerprint test”
Position your thumb behind the glass. See if the thumb print is clear: perfect limpidity.

Viscosity: “the ‘legs’ test”
Tip the glass and give it a half-turn. The thicker the ‘jambe’ or ‘legs’, and the slower they descend, the more fat/oily elements the Armagnac has, these being crucial for ageing.


Phase 2 : smell

Armagnac’s four noses:

- 1st nose: glass still, nose an inch or two away
- 2nd nose: raise the glass towards the left nostril, then to the right nostril
- 3rd nose: lower the nose into the glass
- 4th nose : After turning the glass, lower the nose into the glass again

Phase 3: taste

Always have a good mouthful of water before tasting Armagnac, then put a little Armagnac in your mouth, mixing it with saliva, and swallow. In this way your taste buds are given information about the nature of the product, and you won’t suffer from the alcohol level in your subsequent samplings.

Appreciating a great Armagnac is one thing, but describing the sensations experienced is quite another.