We opted for a tour of Yerevan’s famous brandy. Our 9.30 tour time was not exactly perfect, but you know us, dedicated to the last……. After a decent breakfast to line the stomach we took off for the brandy factory.
Our tour guide was another painfully thin but pretty, false eyelashed lassy with amazingly high heeled shoes and very tight trousers. A bit difficult for the chaps to concentrate on the issue at hand really, but they did their best!
Anyway, back to the brandy. We visited the Noy (Armenian for Noah) brandy factory which is associated with the famous(?) Ararat brandy originally established in1877, apparently Churchill’s brandy of choice. He is said to have got a brandy maker who Stalin had dispatched to Siberia for political activism, brought back because he noticed a change in the taste of the brandy and as a nationalised industry it could not afford to lose such a good customer. It is said that Churchill was sent over 300 bottles a year ! The current Noy factory supplies brandy to the Kremlin.
The factory is built on the site of an old fortress. The site suffered from both earthquakes and Russians. Following the collapse of the Soviet regime, the factory fell into disrepair. In 2003 it was taken over by a Russian oligarch who looked a real bruiser in the photographs – in each photograph he had on a red tie unknotted and his shirt undone! Not quite the ticket! Nevertheless he has made a good job of resurrecting the brandy factory.
We had a great tour and saw the vast vats of the stuff in the cellars. One of the old cellar walls is dated 1600 and from there tunnels duck out by prisoners of the fort go out. One now ends up at the American Embassy which was not, of course, there when they broke the surface and the other in the city square, now old barrels line the tunnels. Some of the larger barrels hold 15,000 litres of brandy.
The inevitable tasting, despite the hour, included a 90 year old wine found when the factory was resurrected. It was something like Madeira. The 20 year old brandy was very good. However, all good things have to come to an end and following our lesson on how to drink and age brandy, our young guide teetered back to us to tell us that our hour was up and before long we were back out on the pavement, clutching our 20 year old brandy purchase.
We decided to adjourn to the hotel for some r and r. We lunched on leftovers from the previous night’s Armenian feast and then went our separate ways, Keith to an afternoon to himself and I set off to town with Helen.
First we went to do some people watching while having a drink at the Marriott pavement cafe in Republic Square. This was very entertaining as
we watched the fashions go by, was fascinated by the members of a delegation disappear into their black limousines with all their designer packages and had a preview of Yerevan’s birthday celebrations at the weekend