White Is The New Armagnac

Moonshine is not the only formerly illicit white spirit in town. Brandy producers in the Gascony region of Southwest France have a rustic white hooch tradition of their own: Blanche Armagnac. While traditional Armagnacs are aged in oak until the liquid is toasty and brown, and are meant to be swirled and sipped from snifters—it is a brandy, after all—Blanche (French for white) Armagnacs are a much more casual tipple.

This farmhouse favorite finally achieved official AOC recognition in 2005 and, led by the producer Château de Laubade, first began trickling into American markets in 2008. Since then, two other houses, Castarède and Delord, have followed suit, exporting their own proprietary versions of Blanche.

Fruity and floral, and often bearing a whiff of Cachaça-like funk, this grape-based eau-de-vie is "rested" a mere three months in stainless steel tanks after distillation, allowing the spirit to retain its sharp, spunky edge. Traditionally sipped as a bracing palate-cleanser between courses, Blanche Armagnac also makes a bold, crisp accompaniment to smoked fish, caviar, and tart lemon and lime flavors. Clean with a bold, muscular character, it's a versatile base for cocktails too.

Ever tried Blanche Armagnac? Let us know in the comments.