The recently released Gwalarn, made by the Celtic Whisky Distillery, is a blended whisky created from two malts, a peated one produced by the distillery and the other, German rye.
The distillery is not in Wales or Scotland but in Brittany on the “Sauvage” [ink granite coats in the Cotes-D’Armour department, overlooking the island of Brehat. The northern winds and oceanic climate affect the aging process and give the former Tregor distillery whiskies their identity.
Gwalarn means the northwest wind in the Breton language. The distillery founded in 1997, also makes “Kornog” (west wind) and Glan-ar-Mor (by the sea).
Says master distiller Ael Guegan; “Our stilla are heated over an open flame for slower distillation and Oregon pine fermenters provided greater complexity than stainless steel. Copper serpentine condensers give a richer texture and great aromatic richness; the spirit is aged in Bourbon barrels in a cellar by the sea.
France produces 30% of the world’s malted barley and the French drink 2.15 liters of whisky per person every year. Compared to the US’s 1.4l. The French are thought to be the largest consumer of whisky in the world, drinking more whisky than they do wine and Cognac. There are currently over forty distilleries.
The first French whisky was produced by Giles Leizour at the Warenghem distillery in Lannion in 1987. This was followed by the first single malt French whisky in 1998. What is now a Living Heritage Company started out in 1900 making kirsch and the 35 botanical liqueur Elixir d’Armorique. Its Armorik (the Roman name for the region) is a big seller.
In 2002 Guy Le Lay’s Distillery des Menhirs in Plomelin, Finistère launched the first French whisky produced from buckwheat – IGP Whisky de Bretagne Eddu (the Breton word for buck or buckwheat. His sons, Erwan, Kevin, and Loig continue the work and have launched white grain Ed Gwenn whisky. The family is also well-known for its pommeau and Lambig cider.
Last year, Martine and Jean Donnay’s Brittany distillery was bought by Cognac-based Maison Villevert, known for its G’Vine and Noiaison gins, June flavored gins, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal, La Guilde du Cognac, and Excellia Tequila.
Jean-Marc Daucourt’s Bastile 1789 blend, using French Limousin oak, acacia, and cherry wood, Vicomte, Burgundy’s Michael Couvrier, and Le Pertuis made on the Ile de Re off the north-west coast and named after the Pertius Strait is other respected French whiskies. The White Rhino is the first whiskey released by Vulson, named after French poet Marcus Vulson de La Combiere. It is a collaboration between the Experimental Cocktail Club and Domaine des Hautes Glaces. The white rhino rye has an aroma of cereal, sweet spices, and crisp apples. The flavors are a combination of anise, plum, honey, cloves, and cinnamon.
The Distillerie Gallet-Dupic is located in Lorraine. It produces the Rozelieures Collection. Non-peated Bellvoye Bleu Triple is a combination of malts from Alsace, Brittany, and Cognac. First aging takes 3-8 years in oak barrels followed by mixing and aging again for about a year in French Oak barrels.
Former ballerina Alisson Parc swapped the barre for the bar. She launched her whisky in 2012, distributing it by Citi Bike in Manhattan. Her Brenne single malt whiskey originates in the city of Cognac. Barley is the base ingredient in making this whiskey, and the fermentation process uses 2 or 3 different strains of yeast in a cool atmosphere. using old Cognac barrels, the whisky exudes caramel, burnt sugar, crème Brulee, and even, to some, to some, ripe strawberries. The aroma is warm chocolate and red fruits.
Brenne describes itself as “Deliciously decadent” and “Approachable luxurious French whisky” … Avec grace et saveur.