Touring the Armenian Brandy factory
Yerevan Travel Blog› entry 5 of 30 › view all entries
In Armenia, cognac refers to Ararat, the premium Armenia brandy developed in 1887. The developer of the brand was far-sighted not only in bringing French brandy making to Armenia, but also in making use of stealth marketing tactics, hiring handsome and rich men to travel around Europe and to try ordering Armenian brandy in all the most expensive restaurants. The tactic obviously worked, as Armenian brandy developed a following in the best circles. Winston Churchill was a famous proponent, ordering 360 bottles of aged brandy every year, which he attributed to his longevity. During Stalin’s reign, Churchill reportedly noticed a drop off in the quality of the brandy. On ringing the factory he found out that the chief distiller had been sent to the Siberian gulags, whereupon he promptly phoned Stalin and insisted on a reprieve.
The Yerevan Brandy Factory has had some very notable tourists on its premises. One of the traditions of the factory is to reward any visiting Presidents with their own personal barrel and their own weight in bottled brandy. According to our guide, when Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, visited, the President’s bodyguards used their feet to weigh down the scales of the President, to ensure a little bit of extra brandy. The owner wisely decided to treat it as a complement to the brandy.
We finished up with a brandy tasting session. Unfortunately, I think I agree with Tsar Nicolas of Russia, who started the Russian tradition of drinking brandy with a slice of lemon - not to accentuate the flavour, but rather so that everyone would assume the sour face he was pulling was due to biting into the lemon, rather than distaste for the decadent drink.