Armagnac, the craft-distilled country cousin to France’s other great brandy, Cognac, deserves wider recognition outside Europe. Think of it as the wine-based analogue to all those trendy small-batch bourbons coming out of the United States – only not as trendy. Made in Gascony in the southwest, Armagnac is dominated by independent producers who stand in contrast to the big brands of Cognac. Marie Duffau is a standout for the money. Fermented and distilled slowly for a complex flavour profile, this Napoléon (an age designation) is matured for a minimum of six years in wood, which is a very nice, advanced age for brandy. It’s rich and round, with luscious pear, dried-apricot and orange flavours infused with baking spices and vanilla.