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Issue 44 - Celtic Cousins - Made in Bretagne

Whisky Magazine Issue 44
November 2004

 

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Celtic Cousins - Made in Bretagne

Martine Nouet looks at the whisky industry in Northern France – and plots its Celtic roots

A land with a profound sense of identity, Brittany became part of French kingdom only in the 16th century. With its own Celtic language – the exact replica of the Cornish one – its culture deeply rooted in myths and legends, its climate so similar to Ireland's or Scotland's west coast, Brittany has the spirit for distilling grain.

It also produces an apple brandy called ‘lambig ‘ or ‘fine de Bretagne' which can be palatable but does not have the richness and delicacy of Norman calvados.

Warenghem: from chouchen to whisky

Warenghem distillery was the first to launch a ‘whisky Breton‘ on the market in 1999. Established in 1900 near Lannion in Côtes d'Armor county, Warenghem produces Fine de Bretagne and also Chouchen, the traditional breton mead.

Making whisky looked a natural extension for the company distilling skills of manager Gilles Leizour.

“But it took some time to establish the notion of ‘whisky Breton' in the consumer's mind,” he says. “For them whisky could not but be Scottish or Irish. Now other companies have walked on our steps. Talking of whisky breton does not give a shock anymore”.

Warenghem produces a blend and a single malt, both bottled at 40 %. The former called WB (Whisky Breton) shows a black and white label, a hinting at the Breton flag. It is a “double single”: 75 per cent of homemade wheat grain whisky and 25 per cent of Armorik, the company single malt distilled in pot stills.

Armorik is a non aged single malt, a fiv...

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