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Issue 99 - A Voyage of Discovery

Whisky Magazine Issue 99
October 2011

 

This article is 3 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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A Voyage of Discovery

Martine Nouet takes us through the gems of French distilling.

If foreigners had to give the reasons why they choose to visit France, good food alongside with fine wines would probably be the first box they would tick. But whisky would certainly not come as a priority (well I bet it would not even feature on the survey list!).

Yet, planning a discovery journey about French whisky is no longer an oddity. As in many other European countries, it has become trendy to produce what is referred to as whisky but often does not deserve to be called so. It seems every month or so, a new name appears, produced by some obscure spirit distillery (see www.francewhisky.fr for more information). However among uneven production, some are worth a visit.

Your quest of French whisky should start and maybe end in Brittany. Which seems rather logical as ‘little Britain' (the meaning of Brittany) is immersed in Celtic culture, more vibrant than ever. There is a Breton language which derives from Cornish and Welsh. The music can't be more Celtic, with the biniou, the Breton bagpipe, and the harp. Each year the Festival interceltique de Lorient attracts thousands of Celtic music lovers in August and features artists from across the planet, all symbols of the Celtic diaspora.

For centuries, Bretons have produced cider, cider eau-de-vie, beer and chouchen (a kind of mead) but whisky was unknown until 1987 when Warenghem Distillery started distilling grain to produce a blend. Here begins the history of Whisky Breton. Now three distilleries are in operation, al...

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