Armenian Brandy / Congnac is an inseparable part of Armenia’s cultural heritage. If you ask any Armenian what is the most famous Armenian product, the answer will totally be brandy.
Armenian brandy or Armenian cognac is one of the key products that are being exported not only to post Soviet countries, but all around the world. What is so different about Armenian Brandy and why is it so much celebrated? Let’s find out the secrets of Armenian brandy.
History of the Armenian Brandy / Cognac
The roots of Armenian brandy go back to biblical times. When according to the legend, patriarch Noah planted the first vineyard in the territory of Mount Ararat and made the first brandy from it.
According to Roman historians Plinius and Tacitus at the times of Roman Empire the Armenian drink (Meron) had been one of the most respected gifts from Armenian Kings to Roman Emperors.
In 1887 merchant Nikolai Tairov built brandy factory in Erivan, in the place of Erivan fortress, at those times Armenia was a part of Russian Empire.
Later he sold his business to Nikolay Shustov and the company was renamed “Shustov and Sons”. The company became a supplier of Emperor’s court, but in 1913 “Shustov and Sons” company was nationalized.
Types of Armenian Brandy / Cognac
Armenian brandies are produced in 3 types: ordinary, branded and collection.
Before understanding how each type is made, it’s interesting to know that no matter how many “Stars” are on the label, all types are aged only in oak barrels.
The alcohol that ordinary brandy contains is no less than 3 years of aging. It’s easy to tell the age of the cognac, because stars on the bottle are equal to the age. Branded cognac is made of alcohol aged no less than 6 years.
Collection cognacs are not made much differently. The very same branded cognac is later matured in oak barrels. The time of maturing cognacs takes more than 3 years.
Famous Brandy Factories
As an ancient country with a long time brandy producing traditions Armenia has many brandy producing factories. Let’s take a look at the most famous ones.
Armenian Brandy Factory #1: Yerevan Brandy Factory
The first one is “Yerevan Brandy Factory”. It was founded in 1887 in Yerevan and its brand name is “Ararat”.
Until 1940s Yerevan Wine & Brandy Factory was known as Shustov’s brandy factory. In 1948 Yerevan Wine & Brandy Factory was undergoing reorganization and this is when Yerevan Wine Factory building and Yerevan Brandy factory buildings were separated.
In 1953 a brand new building was constructed for the production of only brandy. The location of those two factories is very significant. Each of the factories stand high on one side of the Victory bridge, which played a crucial role in Yerevan’s history and independence.
Tours around Yerevan Brandy Factory
Yerevan Brandy Factory also gives a chance to tourists to visit and tour around. The tour includes a visit to the museum, where tourists are thoroughly introduced to the history of the factory, the brandy making process, interesting stories connected with the brandy.
There are also presentations on how cognac should actually be drunk, because there is a special technique how much the glass should be filled, how long it should be rolled, in what way it should be kept in the hand, etc. One of the Armenian brandy drinking traditions is tasting peaches and chocolate with the brandy.
Armenian Brandy Factory #2: Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory
The other famous one is “Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory”. The brand name is “Noy”. The factory was founded in 1877, during the times when Yerevan was a part of Russian Empire. It was built in the territory of the legendary Yerevan Fortress.
Actually this is the original place of Yerevan Brandy Factory, formerly known as “Shuskov’s Brandy Factory”.
Later when “Ararat” Yerevan Brandy Factory was separated and constructed on the other side of the bridge, the original factory was renamed “Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory” started the production of not only brandy, but also wine, vodka and other alcoholic beverages.
The famous brandy “Noy” is being produced right here. There are also tours available for tourists and all interested people. There is a special corner called “Shustov and Sons” the original name of the factory. The tour includes a visit to the factory museum and a tasting as well.
Armenian Brandy Factory #3: Proshyan Brandy Factory
The third most recognized one is “Proshyan Brandy Factory”. The factory has a history of 124 years. It was founded by a famous Armenian entrepreneur Abgar Proshyan.
Abgar studied in Germany, later lived in Russia and eventually came back to Armenia and founded his own brandy factory in a beautiful area in Ararat Valley. He chose that area because the climate and the land 1200 m above sea level were perfect for planting and producing varieties of native grapes, which later were used for making the cognac.
“Proshyan Brandy Factory” produces famous brandy types, such as “Mane”, “Arame”, “Shiraz”, “Charents”, “Aspeti”.
The Most Famous Armenian Brandies / Cognacs
It is natural that Armenia has many brandy factories that produce brandy with the best Armenian traditions, but still there are some special types of brandy that are famous around the world.
These are the types of brandy that tourists, usually take with them from Armenia. Or if Armenians are to send a symbolic gift to someone abroad, they usually pick one of those brandies. Let’s take a look at the most famous ones.
Most Famous Armenian Brandies #1: ARARAT Brandy
ARARAT cognac is produced in Yerevan Brandy Factory, since 1887. It’s made with a traditional method, which includes white grapes and spring water.
"Ordinary" brandies are aged from 3 to 6 years. "Aged brandies"can be 10, 15, 18 or 20 years. Every single one has its own unique taste and color, varying from middle golden to dark golden colors.
Most Famous Armenian Brandies #2: NOY Brandy
NOY is another favorite. It is produced in Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory. “Noy” brandy is aged in oak barrels. It has a unique taste. The darker the color, the more noble and unique aroma the brandy gets. The aging range are the following: 7, 10, 15 and 20 years.
Most Famous Armenian Brandies #3: DVIN brandy
Brandy DVIN is being produced in Yerevan Brandy Factory. It is also called “Churchill’s Cognac”. It is named after one of Armenia’s medieval capital cities, symbolizing the rich heritage of the legendary city.
The first collection of Dvin was produced in 1943 by a famous brandy maker Margar Sedrakyan. It is aged in oak barrels, the maximum aging is 30 years.
DVIN is considered to be the most “diplomatic brandy”, because in a lot of cases it is an inseparable part of serious political negotiations and is often being gifted by one leader to another as a gesture of kindness.
Why is Armenian Brandy marketed as Cognac?
In 1900, Shustov sent a sample of Armenian brandy for an exhibition to Paris and it was called Fine Champagne.There was a blind tasting, French testers were very impressed by the brandy and they were even more surprised when they found out that it was not a French product, but Armenian.
They immediately called it the best cognac and later allowed Shustov to legally call it Cognac. It won a Grand-prix award. After that Armenian brandy has always been marketed as cognac.
As Armenia is one of the most ancient producers of brandy, the traditional methods of making and aging of the brandy still play an important part in Armenian cultural heritage.
Armenian brandy is a wonderful gift for all kinds of events and if you are visiting Armenia, then tasting Armenian cognac is a “must-do". Another thing to do is to take small cognac souvenirs with you back to your home.
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