This is one of those whiskies where one sip will convert you to its delights. Fruit salad with fresh apple and lime, fruit-flavored hard candy, roasted aromatic spices, salted potato skins, and digestive biscuits. A moreish palate of salted caramel, musty chocolate, sweet fruits, viennoiseries, creamy caramels, malt, and gentle spices, which peaks during the finish leaving baked apple flavors and late sherry notes. Don’t pass this up.
France has quietly been making some exciting whiskies, and keeping most to itself. Fortunately, Warenghem Distillery in Brittany exports a number of single malts, which it has been making for over two decades. This whisky, matured initially in local oak and finished in first-fill sherry casks, has perfumy aromas that lift up its malt-forward character. Spicy and floral, with flavors of citrus, cherry, raspberry-jam cookie, salted nuts, and savory tobacco, it is delicate with a satisfying creamy texture. This is a reformulation of the previously available Double Maturation utilizing new cask techniques advised by the late Dr. Jim Swan. Number 6 in the 2018 Top 20
Sticky short ribs from the churrascaria, black pepper, allspice, and a little leather. This is a richly savory whisky with a substantial mouthfeel that’s never chewy. It was matured for 4 years in bourbon wood, then finished in oloroso sherry casks, creating a palate of figs, mixed peel, dried chili flakes, mocha, and whole black peppercorns. Perfectly weighted, right down to the ristretto finish with whole wheat digestive biscuits. Bold, audacious, and voluptuous.
This third single cask release was distilled in 2002 and spent two-thirds of its maturation in oloroso after 4 years in bourbon wood. The nose brings cranberry, bramble, smoked meats over a pit fire, stewed apple, Worcestershire sauce, and damp sphagnum. The taste is silky, displaying an array of citrus and red berry fruits. It’s amazingly gentle and tender given the strength. Water brings cider apples, ginger, and spices with a finish of bubblegum and boiled mint candies. €90
What happened when Warenghem Distillery’s David Roussier finished some of his famous Breton whisky for 2 years in a Dartigalongue Armagnac cask from the oldest Bas Armagnac production house? Sweet apple, pear, vanilla, lemon peel, and marzipan appear. A drink that awakens intense citrus sensations of marmalade, mixed peel, lemon and orange segments, followed by a light snap of pepper, gooseberries, nectarine flesh, and a lemony finish with hints of oak.
Distillerie Warenghem’s first peated malt, using barley malted to 50 ppm. Waves of coastal character, with lemon, vanilla, marzipan, peat smoke, and hints of antiseptic. The taste is akin to devouring the best fudge in the world, with lemon, rich orange peel, pepper, root ginger, and a steadily building cloud of smoke.
Elegant and dry, this Breton whisky from Distillerie Warenghem charms with its nose of digestive biscuits, honey, barley, dry oak, dried apricot, apple rings, roasted coriander seeds, and white pepper. The flavor delivery is well balanced with orange, honey, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, and pepper, with the masterful spices quelling the fruitiness in the end. Breton is an endangered language, so pour a glass and raise a toast. Yec’hed mat!
Green herb notes, vanilla, green melon, Quaker oats, toasted cumin, and cardamom. This is a light, golden whisky replete with vanilla and raspberry notes. Ripe and dried red fruits are balanced with clove and pepper. A good all-rounder, with a finish of active spices, vanilla pod, and a few oak char notes. Warenghem Distillery will release this whisky in limited quantities annually until it’s permanently available. (2,000 bottles; 60 for U.S.)
Seaweed piled in a beach bonfire, Keemun tea, hide-covered tomes, and toffee apples. Soupy, salty smoke without the heat on this dram, which was matured for 6 years in first-fill oloroso. The flavors bring an array of apple peelings, cough sweets, aniseed, and roasted sesame seed before developing some savory elements of roast pork. A spicy tingle takes you through to the finish. Water coaxes out apple jelly and pear notes. (1,000 bottles) €58
Armorik is made by Distilleries Warenghem in the Brittany region of Northern France and you expect something gutsy and rugged. This is nothing of the sort, though the relatively high strength and the fact that it's non-chill filtered ensure plenty of taste, including a scattering of spices that tickle and tingle the palate at the finish. Before then, though, the key flavors are vanilla, honeyed cereal, overripe melon, and banana. Delightful. €38
Armorik has been making whisky for more than twelve years; it's growing in confidence, and the quality is improving. There's peat in the malt here, and it gives the whisky a feisty and earthy quality. The spirit is matured first in Armorik oak barrels and then transferred to sherry. Sherry and peat is a tough trick to pull off and this just about gets away with it, with coastal brine and lemon rubbing up against wood smoke, barley, and honey. €38
There are big similarities with this whisky and those being produced at nearby Glann ar Mor. The dominant flavors are soft and sweet, and there's a distinctly soft and feminine side to this single malt, which skips across the palate. There are floral and green fruit notes here, traces of oak, barley, and sweet spice, all very ordered. Not complicated maybe, but very well made indeed. €20