Cognac and Armagnac are two distinct styles of brandy made in the regions immediately north and south of Bordeaux. Cognac grapes are mainly grown on chalky soils and the spirit is distilled twice in traditional 'Alembic' pot stills. In Armagnac the grapes grow mainly on sandy soils and distillation is done just once in a primitive column still. Generally speaking Cognac tends to be very smooth, floral and fruity while Armagnac is more earthy, powerful and robust. In older examples they can both be extremely good. Cognacs are labelled as VS (at least 2 years old), VSOP (4 years) and XO (6 years), with 'Napoleon' Cognacs falling somewhere in between VSOP and XO. Armagnacs also use the same labelling with VS meaning 2 years ageing but VSOP designating 5 years and XO 6 years. Vintage bottlings are very common for Armagnacs with the year denoting the time of harvest, we usually have a wide range of these in stock and they make great gifts.