Whisky galore: à la Française – by Roger st Pierre.
Brittany is immensely proud and protective of its Celtic heritage and has a language that is very close to Welsh. It still comes as a surprise, though to discover that, along with the better-known ciders and apple brandies of tradition, it now produces a very passable malt whisky.
Given that the French drink more Scotch than do we Brits – while we drink more Cognac than they do! – the existence of a Breton whisky distillery makes sense. And, in fact, there are two of them, along with a further six in other regions of France, from Alsace to Corsica.
Claiming to be a premium product, Armorik is a single malt, based on locally grown and malted barley, and is produced in Lannion by Distillerie Warenghem – a name that sounds more Flemish than Breton, an oddity explained by the origins of its founder.
The company also produces blended whisky, using both barley and wheat, and a pleasant range of light and dark beers, as well as apple brandy, pommeau and a delightfully smooth honey-based aperitif.
Brittany is well suited to whisky production. The water is pure and there’s a wet climate that is not dissimilar to that of Scotland and Ireland – plus the Bretons have all that Celtic tradition.
Today, French whisky accounts for more than half the turnover at Distillerie Warenghem, with a production of more than half a million bottles a year.
Read more from Roger St Pierre about seaweed from Brittany, the new superfood and much loved by Michelin chefs and the fabulous Anglo-French cultural history of Brittany’s Onion Johnnies.
For more information on Brittany, go to www.brittanytourism.com
By Roger St Pierre, Member of British Guild of Travel Writers