Ararat is an Armenian brandy produced by the Yerevan Brandy Company since 1887. It is made from white grapes grown in Armenia, using traditional methods. The grapes are pressed by the same methods as in the production of sparkling wine. The wine used is distilled twice on copper pot distillation and matured for at least five years in Armenian oak barrels. No additives and dyes have been used, the color of the brandy comes only from maturing in oak barrels.
Brandies are produced in several different year categories. The youngest are 3-6 years, but they are up to 30 years old in production and sales. Ararat is traditionally sold in the countries of the former Soviet Union, but especially the oldest-grade brandies are also highly valued in other parts of the world. In 1998, the French company Pernod Ricard acquired the Ararat brand and it has since slowly gained attention around the world. In Estonia, Ararat 5YO is on sale at different bottle sizes, a 20cl bottle costs about 7 €.
The slightly sweet aroma is quite deep, soft, with raisins, pears and oak. The taste has sweet fruit, leather, oak, a little raisin and it is pleasantly oily. The taste is quite harsh and a bit pungent, the youth of the distillate is still felt. It’s also pretty dry, meaning there’s very little, if any, of added sugar. The burn is rather strong, but still smooth and the aftertaste is semi-long and sweet. I can note that it has matured longer than brandys in general and compared to cognac it settles somewhere between the VS and VSOP classes. The aromas still leave behind the strong and young distillate. Admittedly, the aromas of the grapes have already turned raisins.
Ararat is certainly one of the best brandy manufacturers in the Caucasus countries. 5YO brandy is the company’s most produced brandy and has a bit of a mass production feel. There are 6, 7, 10, 15, 20, and 30 year old versions of Ararat. So if you like this, the older versions will certainly have a lot more to offer.