Whisky Advocate

Guest Review: World Whisky – France

November 9th, 2010

Glann ar Mor NAS, 46%, £55
French whisky encompasses a wide range of approaches and flavors, from the hugely aromatic P&M from Corsica to the understated Alsace whiskies of Elsass, Meyer’s, and Uberbach. There is a trio of whiskies from Brittany. Guy le Lat’s Eddu uses buckwheat to create a whisky that out-ryes rye. Distilerie Warengheim makes the most widely-seen whisky, Amorik. But for this writer the one to watch is Glann ar Mor (‘by the sea’), established in 2005 by Jean Donnay. A traditionalist approach: direct fire, wooden washbacks, wild yeast, and worm tubs yield a single malt whisky that, though barely over the 3 year legal limit, is already complex: think barley sugar and apricot. The fire and the worms give the mid-palate some real weight (boding well for longer-term maturation), but the slow distillation has added floral notes that dance on top. (Dave Broom)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 90

Kornog, 57.1%, £60
Donnay also makes a peated variant. Again, the distillery’s ability to mix the heavy (in this case smoke) with the lifted is demonstrated. Think sage and rosemary, mixed with nuts and a really salty tingle that brings to mind eating samphire while the smoke wreathes the palate. Make no mistake, this is one important new whisky. (Dave Broom)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

Hedgehog, 40%, €37
It’s not compulsory to follow a Scottish way of whisky making. M. Olivier Perrier in the village of Herisson the middle of the Auvergne has taken a bourbon base (65% corn with malted barley and rye) and distilled it in a Cognac-style alembic before aging it for three years in Troncais oak. Any thoughts that M.Perrier is digging deep into his terroir can be quickly dismissed: the recipe is one for moonshine extracted from a South Carolina musician! His whisky (or should that be whiskey?) is fat and oily, with lots of corn and the scented note that these French whiskies all seem to share. It has a palate where the deep and the savory dance around each other that, while not exactly controlled, would be perfect to accompany an evening of blues in the middle of France.  (Dave Broom)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 80

9 Responses to “Guest Review: World Whisky – France”

  1. Gal Granov says:

    where can one buy that for 60 GBP?

  2. Rick H says:

    John, what do you think of the prices on these? For “alternative region” whisky, you’d think they’d want to price it such that people can try it without breaking the bank — it’s sort of the same problem New York wines have – overpriced for “lesser” or “unknown” product. I’d like to try the first two but for 55 GBP ($88) and 60 GBP ($96) I can get “better” whisky for half the price…

    • John Hansell says:

      I think one of the biggest challenges of the small craft distilleries, regardless of country, is that they don’t benefit from economies of scale and therefore the prices of their relatively young whiskies are as much as older whiskies from larger, more established distilleries.

      • joe hyman says:

        ain’t it the truth… i got a bottle recently from a local (just outside of boston) distillery, $75 with shipping…but, ya gotta support these guys before the big-guys squeeze them out… as it happens, this whisky, 5 yrs, 42%, is very pleasant indeed…

  3. Andre Girard says:

    Eddu Silver from Distillerie des menhirs (France) was on my “best whisky of the year listing” a few years ago. Nice to see french whiskies are improving over the years. Nice stuff are done outside traditional whisky making coutries (Sweden, India, france…)

  4. George Jetson says:

    There are now several peated “Kornog” expressions available. I assume the one reviewed is the Kornog Taouarch Kentan. The second release is called Taouarch Eilvet with two versions, cask strength @59.2% and dilute at @46%. They also just released another dilute version @46% called Kornog ‘5vet Deiz ha Bloaz’.

    I’ll have to seond Dave Broom’s opinion on this one. I came into trying this with all of my Ardbeg baggage firmly on hand, but I came away from it with a whole new regard for the brand. It is very good whisky in it’s own right and really doesn’t need to stand against any comparisons to scotch whisky.

  5. Alas, I haven’t been able to get my mits on a sample, but here’s a Blog article on Glann Ar Mor from the BUMS website:

  6. Jean Donnay says:

    Thank you John and Dave for the review much appreciated and thank you also to the contributors for your comments. I am aware that Glann ar Mor and Kornog are no cheap whiskies. Their prices do not reflect their age, but rather the way of producing them which is actually quite expensive, as with all small scale distilleries.

    In our case that means amongst other things, very small stills, live flame heating for both stills, ultra slow distillation with typically 20 hours for the first one and 15 hours for the second one. All choices which do not go in the sense of economy but which were deliberately retained for good reasons.

    Taking for comparison the excellent Kilchoman, its price in its country of origin and the one of the Kornog in France are just similar in the case of the 46% expression. I believe the prices are justified in both cases by how they are made.

    I am pleased to take this opportunity to announce that we will very soon release three new bottling : a Kornog @ 46% from 100% Bourbon barrels, a Kornog @ 46% from 100% Sauternes casks and a Glann ar Mor @ 46 % from Bourbon barrels.

    Jean Donnay (Glann ar Mor distillery)

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