Ararat Cognac Factory

The most exquisite landmark of Yerevan

Probably it is much easier
to go up the Mount Ararat
than from down the cellars of “Ararat”.
Maksim Gorkiy, 1928.

Of all the sights of Yerevan, the finest you can name the Ararat Cognac Factory, officially known as Yerevan Cognac Factory. Visiting Yerevan without trying this Armenian cognac is like attending a birthday party without tasting a birthday cake.

The history of this place started in the early 16th century when Persians built a fortress Erivan. It had served as an outpost of the city for a long time and in the beginning of the 19th century was seized by Russian troops. Later, in 1853 the fortification was damaged by a great earthquake and 8 years after, in 1865, the Armenian merchant Nekres Tairyants (Tairov) bought the ruins and the adjoining territory. In 1887 he founded Erivan wine factory on the place of the fortress, and later launched a chain of cognac production.

Ararat Cognac Factory
Ararat Cognac Factory
Ararat Cognac Factory

First, the production of Armenian cognac was according to French technologies and the first brand even had a French style name of Fine Champagne. Later, in 1898 the Russian industrial worker Nikolay Shustov rent a factory from Tairyants and two years later purchased it completely. That was when the heyday of cognac production started in Armenia. Shustov invested big money in the modernization of the production as well as popularization of the brand. Thus, in 1900 there was a consignment of bottles sent to the exhibition in Paris without indicating the production source, and after the “blind degustation” this cognac was awarded Grand-prix. It was then revealed that the drink had been brought from Armenia and it acquired the right to be called a cognac, though this privilege was given to drinks produced in the French province of the same name. At the same time, Shustov succeeded in becoming an official supplier of cognac to the dining table of the Emperor.

After the formation of the USSR, the factory was nationalized, but the production of cognac continued and even increased. In 1953, it was moved into a new building on the other side of the Razdan River and got its present name – Yerevan Cognac Factory. It turned into the only producer of Armenian cognac and all other factories could deal with preparation of spirits and provision of raw materials.

Ararat Cognac Factory
Ararat Cognac Factory
Ararat Cognac Factory

In the end of the 20th century, after the fall of the USSR, Ararat Cognac Factory (Yerevan Cognac Factory) was privatized and the French company “Pernod Richard” became its owner. A bit later, in year 2002, Armenian businessman Gagik Tsarukyan bought the old building of the factory and opened there a cognac factory “Noah”. Thus, once a large enterprise was divided into two competitor factories located on both sides of the river opposite each other. As a result, two companies produce competitive beverage that is exported to dozens of countries in the world.

Both factories have historical museums and cognac tasting halls, and almost everyday exciting excursions are hold there. There you can see samples of cognac produced practically from the moment of the foundation of the factory, different awards for quality, barrels laid in honor of famous figures and many others. During the excursions, visitors can watch the entire process of the production, see huge storages, and participate in cognac degustation. So you can appreciate the difference of cognac of various aging, learn how to try this drink correctly, and to distinguish genuine product from a fake.

How to determine a real cognac?
Drop some cognac on your palm, rub it and when it starts to dry out, slightly clap. If your palms are sticky, it shows that sugar was added to the cognac, which is a sign of standard violation.

Moreover, you will hear many legends related to Yerevan cognac factory at the excursion. One of them is rather popular though without any documental proof. During the WWII, at one of the conferences of the union countries, Joseph Stalin treated Winston Churchill to the Armenian cognac and the Prime-Minister of the Great Britain highly evaluated its quality. Since then, 50 degrees cognac “Dvin” was monthly delivered to Churchill. However, once he noticed that the quality of the cognac decreased and informed Stalin about this.

It was found out that the master of coupage Margar Sedrakyan was exiled to Siberia and without him the production worsened. Stalin ordered to return the master back to production, reinstate him in the party and provide all necessary conditions. Thus, the Armenian cognac saved a person’s life.

Today Ararat Cognac Factory produces several sorts of cognac of 3 to 10 years of aging, and stores brand cognac aged from 25 to 70 years.

In order to find out the age of the cognac, you need to shake the drink in a glass so that it trickles down the dry walls. The longer it runs down, the older it is, and it is considered that one second equals one year.

In conclusion, it is to add that if you are in Yerevan and wondering what to bring from the capital of Armenia, no doubt, the best choice would be the Armenian cognac!