Yerakouyn. Brandy production is a big business in Armenia.
Yerevan, the country’s capital, boasts more brandy distillers per capita than any other city in the world, including Cognac – Forbes said in an article on Armenian brandy titled Exploring The World Of Armenian Brandy.
Author of the article Joseph Micallef mentions that Armenia is known as the birthplace of winemaking. However, brandy production also has very long history.
“During the late 19th century a thriving brandy industry developed in Armenia. Taking advantage of the popularity of Cognac in Russia; a consequence of the anti-German, Franco-Russian alliance that preceded World War I, Armenian Brandy was also labeled Kanyak, the Armenian spelling for Cognac. A practice that continues in Armenia, Russia and some of the other former Soviet republics.
For a brief time, one Armenian producer, Nikolay Shustov, did have the right to label his brandy as Cognac. Shustov was the official supplier of Armenian brandy to the court of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II. His company, Shustov & Sons, eventually became the Yerevan Brandy Company, Armenia’s largest brandy producer.
At the 1900 Universal Expo of Paris, Shustov & Sons’ brandy, was selected as the best brandy in a blind judging, beating out stiff competition from Cognac’s leading producer and earning the reward to legally call their product Cognac.
Roughly a quarter of all of the brandy produced in the Soviet Union came from Armenia. At the Yalta Conference in 1944, Joseph Stalin was reputed to have plied Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt with copious quantities of an Armenian brandy produced by the Yerevan Brandy company called Dvin”, the author said, adding that according to the legend Churchill was so smitten with Armenian brandy that he arranged with Stalin for a regular supply to be shipped to him.
“The country currently produces around 20 million liters, about 5.7 million gallons, 90 percent of which is exported.
There are several interesting features about Armenian brandy production. First, it only utilizes indigenous grape varieties. Armenia has over 200 indigenous grape varieties, most of which are very old”, the article said.
Photo – Yerakouyn