We Tried It! Armagnac Tasting on Viking Sea     

by Sherri Eisenberg

We Tried It! Armagnac Tasting on Viking Sea     

by Sherri Eisenberg
We Tried It!

Viking Sea is one of our favorite ships for good reason: The decor is elegant and modern, with gorgeous cabins and thoughtful details. The art is carefully curated. And the food really delivers, with nods to the line’s Scandinavian heritage. So it comes as no surprise that one of our favorite small-group tasting events takes place on this ship. What is a surprise is that it is French Armagnac and not, say, Scandinavian Aquavit. Still, if you’re a fan of this digestif from Gascony — a rich, Cognac-like brandy made from distilled white wine that is aged in oak barrels — then you're in for a treat.

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Armagnac Tasting at the Torshavn club / Viking Cruises
Armagnac and Chocolate
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What It’s Really Like 

The tasting takes place at the bar of the intimate Torshavn club, a dark music venue where vintage Armagnacs dating back to 1935 line the glass shelves behind the bar. (Viking Sea actually has the biggest collection on the high seas.) It includes glasses lined up in front of each place on a wooden board, paired with small squares of chocolate, which help bring out the flavor of the brandy. First comes the introduction: Popular in the French countryside, Armagnac has been designed to hold up to the rich and fatty duck, pork, and foie gras-laden dishes of the region in Gascony where it is produced. 

The tasting, held on sea days, starts with a VSOP that was aged four years in French oak barrels, then moves on to a 15-year Armagnac with notes of wood and leather, and a 20-year-old Armagnac that’s smoother and tastes like almonds. The chocolate, too, gets richer as the flavors of the brandy deepen.

The pours are large — you may not want to come on an empty stomach — and the explanations are as simple or complex as the group requires. The more questions you ask and interest you show, the more information the bartender will share. If you’ve ever swirled and sipped an Armagnac or were curious to know more about this brandy, the lesser-known cousin to those produced in the Cognac region about 100 miles away, the tasting is a lovely way to learn.

The Scoop: The tasting is $25 per person for the three pours, or $35 including a fourth glass, which is an Armagnac from 1960. If you like Armagnac, it’s a deal — that last one regularly goes for $75 a snifter.

The tasting takes place at the bar of the intimate Torshavn club, a dark music venue where vintage Armagnacs dating back to 1935 line the glass shelves behind the bar. (Viking Sea actually has the biggest collection on the high seas.) It includes glasses lined up in front of each place on a wooden board, paired with small squares of chocolate, which help bring out the flavor of the brandy. First comes the introduction: Popular in the French countryside, Armagnac has been designed to hold up to the rich and fatty duck, pork, and foie gras-laden dishes of the region in Gascony where it is produced. 

The tasting, held on sea days, starts with a VSOP that was aged four years in French oak barrels, then moves on to a 15-year Armagnac with notes of wood and leather, and a 20-year-old Armagnac that’s smoother and tastes like almonds. The chocolate, too, gets richer as the flavors of the brandy deepen.

The pours are large — you may not want to come on an empty stomach — and the explanations are as simple or complex as the group requires. The more questions you ask and interest you show, the more information the bartender will share. If you’ve ever swirled and sipped an Armagnac or were curious to know more about this brandy, the lesser-known cousin to those produced in the Cognac region about 100 miles away, the tasting is a lovely way to learn.

The Scoop: The tasting is $25 per person for the three pours, or $35 including a fourth glass, which is an Armagnac from 1960. If you like Armagnac, it’s a deal — that last one regularly goes for $75 a snifter.

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