Industry News

Armagnac vs Cognac Seminar with Heavenly Spirits & Hoke Harden

This year’s Society of Wine Educators Annual Convention was held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. and after a call from esteemed wine and spirits educator, Hoke Harden, we were invited to participate with him as presenters in an Armagnac vs. Cognac throwdown. However, due to unexpected Fedex shipping problems of our samples, discovered an hour before we were to begin, it almost didn’t happen. Thankfully, the day was saved by heroic efforts on the part of our distributor, Shannon Crisp, of Craft Wine & Spirits, who was able to collect the samples needed for our presentation and rush them to the convention with only minutes to spare. At the end of the day, the seminar went just as planned; Hoke slowed down his slide presentation and I don’t think any of the Master class participants even knew the stress we were feeling behind the scenes.

This tasting seminar topic, “Armagnac vs. Cognac” is something we’ve been doing for several years and it is always one of the most popular for a number of reasons. First of all, a majority of Americans have sadly never tried or even heard of Armagnac, the oldest spirit in France, yet everyone in the U.S. it seems has heard of Cognac (due to marketing from the big four). Secondly, we represent some of the finest examples of these products available anywhere, hand selected by us. Most of our suppliers are small-to-medium-sized, family-owned distilleries that have been in business for at least four generations. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the differences involved in smaller, artisinal production methods. Finally, attending one of our seminars is both educational and fun, as we share pertinent historical information, as well as personal stories about these products and producers, then we let the participants decide which quality and style is right for them.

Some of the spirits we featured in this seminar include: Du Peyrat Organic Cognac, Marie Duffau Bas Armagnac, Jean Fillioux Cognac Grande Champagne, Artez Bas Armagnac, Normandin-Mercier Cognac Fine Champagne, Dartigalongue Bas Armagnac, and Delord Bas Armagnac. As a bonus, we offered the highly-awarded Delord Blanche Armagnac before the main flight and Artez Arvani Armagnac Vanilla liqueur served both neat and on vanilla ice cream with a Nilla wafer for dessert. The SWE put on a fine event and we hope we’ll be invited back to do another one in the future.


Kopper Kettle Virginia Whiskey
Belmont Farms Distillery

The first in our Kopper Kettle line, our Virginia Whiskey is a unique product with many fans. Its starts off as a 3 grain whiskey and then soaks for 2 months with charred Virginia white oak and Virginia apple wood. Then we age it 4 years in oak barrels. Many of our customers enjoy it neat or with a splash of water for a beautiful, relaxing, sipping whiskey. However you choose to drink it, join the thousands that prefer it to all other aged whiskies.

Breckenridge Bourbon
Breckenridge Distillery

Breckenridge Bourbon won one of only three gold medals in its category awarded by the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition, won Bourbon of the Year 2012 at the International Whisky Competition, and achieved 96 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge NYC.

FEW Spirits Rye Whiskey
FEW Spirits

Whiskey Advocate: Craft Whiskey of the Year. Few Spirits Rye Whiskey is a combination of substantial amount of Rye grain, with enough Corn to add intricacy and sweetness, and a high ester yeast yielding lots of fruit flavors. Beverage Testing Institute: Top 5 Rye Whiskey in the World.

FEW Spirits Breakfast Gin
FEW Spirits

Master of Malt: Few Spirits set out to make the perfect morning gin. The elegant and refreshing qualities of Earl grey are well displayed here, alongside bergamot's unique citrus characteristics and fresh juniper along with a touch of peppermint and violet fragrance on the mid-palate, and a lingering sweetness with a burst of cinnamon for good measure. 'Fresh' is very much the word at the forefront of my mind when tasting this - just the ticket for enjoying with brunch.

Delord Armagnac 25 Years Old
Heavenly Spirits

This superb blend displays flavors or cocoa, spices, vanilla, raisins, walnut and cinnamon. Its finish is long, silky and biscuity. 25 years old.

JM Salted Caramel
Jackson Morgan Southern Cream

Salted caramel is Jackson Morgan Southern Cream’s most requested flavor with a delectable balance of caramel and real dairy cream. Mix with blueberry vodka for Jackson Morgan’s signature cocktail, The Blue Mule. Best served chilled. Silver, 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Silver Outstanding, 2015 International Wine and Spirits Competition. Gold, 2015 Best Tasting Spirits.

Koloa Spice Hawaiian Rum
Koloa Rum Company

Koloa Spice Rum is produced from a proprietary spice blend, golden wheat in color, with hints of spice cake on the nose. It is extremely well-balanced with a hint of caramel and vanilla and a long, smooth finish. 2012 Silver Medal, San Francisco Spirits Competition. 2011 Bronze Medal, Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

Lyon Dark Rum
Lyon Distilling

Lyon Distilling Company is Maryland's premier craft distillery, producing truly artisan spirits by transforming raw ingredients into splendid liquor, step by step, in very small batches, using traditional pot stills. In homage to the historical trajectory of Maryland distilling, Lyon launched at the end of 2013 with a signature line of rums - the most authentic, original American spirit - distilled from molasses & sugar cane, in batches of less than 100 bottles each. The Dark Rum is unbelievably smooth at 90 proof - with a rich, smoky caramel flavor and a truly unique profile. Stellar on it's own neat, on the rocks, or mixed into your favorite rum cocktail.

Cody Road Rye Whiskey
Mississippi River Distilling Company

Handmade from 100% local rye purchased from Dave and Jim Wherry in Fulton, Illinois. Our rye is a unique spirit that showcases the wonderful spiciness of this one-of-a-kind grain along with the delicate fruitiness that is often lost in rye whiskies. Rye is known for being a bold and spicy grain. We distill it very cleanly so you can experience a sweet fruitiness that is unexpected from rye. Then the signature spiciness will linger in the back of your mouth. Let it set in the glass for a few minutes and taste the complexities of rye as they soar from your glass.

Two James Johnny Smoking Gun Whiskey
Two James Spirits

Johnny Smoking Gun is a story of East Meets West. A Whiskey crafted specifically to compliment the “umami” of the rich pork and fish broths of Japanese cuisine. This delicate smoky blend of 70% corn and 30% rye will surely not disappoint. Enjoy! 87 Proof

Diamond Mtn. District Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Von Strasser

“DMD” is an elegant expression of Diamond Mountain District. This blend of six single vineyards all within this AVA offers a softer, approachable style highlighted by its fruit forward nature. Immediate nose is pleasing with dark fruit of blueberry, blackberry and leather layered with flavors of licorice, coffee, pomegranate and subtle earthy undertones. Wrap it up with supple tannins to enjoy now or up to 10 years.

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