French Whisky

Contributor: Luke Summers
With input from: Philippe Jugé (Whisky Magazine, France)

French flag

Setting the scene

World renowned for their fine food and drink, the French have a long history of producing the highest quality products for our sensory pleasure. The French also have a long history of distilling spirits and are now producing some of the world’s most unique whisky using some very innovative processes.

With high quality French barley and grains readily available, a conducive temperature for maturing whisky, and a wealth of distillation expertise at hand – it is little wonder that the French have directed their passion and flair to the production of whisky.

An introduction to the whiskies of France

French whiskies are quite unlike any others produced around the globe. The sheer variety of flavours and aromas in these complex whiskies is testament to the willingness for experimentation and innovation, and the desire to produce exceptional whiskies that showcase their French heritage.

Two of the factors that contribute quite prominently to the unique characteristics of French whiskies are:

  1. the casks they are matured in; and
  2. the type of still they are distilled in.

Maturing whisky – the French way

France produces large volumes of arguably some of the world’s finest and most renowned wines and this presents a unique opportunity for French Whisky producers in the form of readily available barrels. French whisky producers have embraced this opportunity and they are getting some incredible results from maturation in barrels previously used for a variety of wine styles including white, red, sweet, dry and fortified.

Distilling whisky – influences of the past

French whisky producers often have a history in the distillation of other spirits, including brandies. Many of the spirit stills that are now employed to produce whisky were previously (or currently are) used to produce other spirits. The ‘Holstein’ type still for example, which is often used for producing ‘eaux de vie’ (fruit brandies) – is often now used for the distillation of whisky, producing a whisky quite different from those made using the more traditional pot still. As an example, the resulting whiskies often have more pronounced ‘fruitiness’.

French whisky distilleries

Bertrand Distillery (Distillerie Bertrand)

The Bertrand Distillery was founded in 1874. The distillery has been producing whisky since 2002.

The distillery produces a variety of single malt whiskies using locally sourced malt. The distillery matures their whiskies in a range of barrels, including many previously used for maturing wines and fortified wines – sourcing barrels locally from Alsace and from other regions in France. The whisky is distilled using Holstein type stills, which are also used for producing ‘eaux de vie’ (fruit brandies). The Bertrand Distillery whisky range includes the Uberach Single Malt and the Uberach Single Cask, along with a number of other limited bottlings.

Bertrand Distillery is located in the Alsace region at: 3 Rue du Maréchal Leclerc – BP 21 67 350, Uberach.

Brasserie La Rouget de Lisle

Brasserie La Rouget de Lisle is named after Captain Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760 – 1836), composer of the song which became the French national anthem ‘La Marseillaise’.

Brasserie La Rouget de Lisle commenced production in 1994. In addition to a range of beers and soft drinks, they produce a single malt whisky which is matured in ex-Vin de Paille (wine) barrels. The first whisky was distilled in 2006 at Brûlerie De Revermont. Since 2012, the whisky has been produced on site at Brasserie La Rouget de Lisle.

The brewery and distillery is located in Jura at: Rue de la Verne 39140, Bletterans.

Brasserie Michard (Bieres Michard)

Brasserie Michard commenced production in 1987. In addition to a range of beers, they produce a single malt whisky which is matured in ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon barrels. Their first whisky was distilled in 2008 and released in 2012.

The brewery and distillery is located at: 8 Place Denis Dussoubs 87000, Limoges.

Brasserie Storig

Brasserie Storig commenced production in 1996. In addition to a range of beers, they produced an ‘Alsatian Whisky’ (Whisky Alsacien) which was distilled from red beer – so was actually a ‘beersky’. The beersky is reportedly no longer produced.

Brasserie Storig is located in Alsace at: 15 rue Evariste Galois 67300, Schiltigheim.

Brenne Whisky (Brenne Estate)

Brenne Whisky was founded by Allison Patel. The launch of the first release whisky was in New York City in October 2012.

Brenne Estate produces 100% organic French single malt whisky. The whisky is made from organic barley grown in the Cognac region of France. The whisky is double distilled and then matured in new Limousin oak barrels before being finished in ex-Cognac casks.

Distillation is done in copper alembic stills (traditionally used for making brandy). Bottles are single cask expressions, barrels are not blended together prior to bottling. The whisky is bottled at 40.0% ABV (80 proof).

Brûlerie De Revermont

In addition to a range of other spirits, they produce a single malt (single cask) whisky under the name ‘Prohibition’. The whisky is matured in ex-wine barrels.

The distillery is located in Jura at: route de la Vallée 39210, Nevy-sur-Seille.

Castan Distillery (Distillerie Castan)

In addition to a range of liqueurs, eaux de vie (fruit brandies) and wines, they also produce an organic single malt (single cask) whisky. The first whisky was distilled on 4 March 2010. The whisky is non chill-filtered and no colourings are added.

The distillery is located in the Midi-Pyrénées region at: 81130 Villeneuve-sur-Vere.

Open for visits everyday from 1 May until 6 September during the tourist season. Open from Monday to Saturday throughout the remainder of the year. Opening hours: from 10am to 12pm and from 2pm to 6:30pm.

Daucourt Distillery (Distillerie Daucourt)

Daucourt Distillery is owned by Master Distiller Jean-Marc Daucourt. Dancourt moved to Scotland as a young man to explore the origins of whisky while working at a Scotch whisky distillery. He travelled around the globe to learn the art of distillation with the dream of one day crafting whisky with a distinct French identity.

Daucourt’s first whisky is the ‘Bastille 1789 Hand-Crafted Whisky’ which was initially offered in a limited number of locations in the United States (from January 2012), with a broader release scheduled for May 2012.

Bastille 1789 Whisky is made from a combination of barley and wheat (mainly barley), both of which are grown in north east France. The water is sourced from the Gensac Spring which has naturally filtered through the limestone of the Grande Champagne district of Cognac (Grande Champagne cru).

Distillation is done in alembic pot stills (normally used for making brandy). The whisky is aged for five to seven years in a combination of French Limousin oak, cherry wood and acacia casks. The whisky is bottled at 40.0% ABV (80 proof).

The distillery is located in the Angoulême commune in southwestern France, very close to Cognac.

Distillerie du Pays d’Othe

Distillerie du Pays d’Othe is owned and operated by Denis Chevailler.

They produce eaux de vie (fruit brandies), vodka and whisky (labelled as ‘Le Chevailler Whisky’).

The distillery is located at: 13, Rue de la Croix, Saint-Mards-en-Othe, Champagne-Ardenne, F-10160

Des Menhirs Distillery (Distillerie Des Menhirs)

Des Menhirs was founded in 1986 to produce fruit spirits and apple cider. The distillery started producing whisky in 1998. Rather than using existing fruit spirit stills, Des Menhirs built a separate still solely for the production of whisky.

The whisky produced by Des Menhirs Distillery is called ‘Eddu’, which means ‘buckwheat’ in the Breton language (a Celtic language spoken in Brittany). As the name suggests, the distillery produces whisky from buckwheat rather than barley or other grains. Des Menhirs Distillery offers three different types of it’s Eddu whisky: Silver (pure buckwheat whisky), Gold (pure buckwheat whisky), and Grey Rock (blended whisky with 30% buckwheat whisky).

Des Menhirs Distillery is located in Brittany (Bretagne).

A visitor centre and shop is located at the distillery and is open to the public. Free tours are available and include a whisky tasting at the conclusion of the tour. A fee of 2 euros is charged for groups.

Glann ar Mor (Distillerie Glann ar Mor)

Owner Jean Donnay established Glann ar Mor in 1999, conducting a number of trials prior to commencing larger scale production in 2005. The first Glann ar Mor whisky was released in 2008 after three years maturation. Glann ar Mor means ‘by the sea’ in the Breton language (a Celtic language spoken in Brittany).

Glann ar Mor whiskies are non chill-filtered and no colouring (caramel) is added. Maturation takes place in ex-bourbon and ex-Sauternes (wine) casks. Glann ar Mor also offers the ‘Celtique Connexion’ range of whiskies which are initially distilled and matured in Scotland, then further matured in a range of casks at Glann ar Mor’s seaside warehouse.

Glann ar Mor Distillery is located by the seaside on the Northern coast of Brittany (Bretagne).

A visitor centre is located a short distance from the distillery and is open to the public.

Grallet-Dupic Distillery (Distillerie Grallet-Dupic, Maison de la Mirabelle)

Maison de la Mirabelle was first established in 1890.

They produce eaux de vie (fruit brandies), a range of liqueurs and single malt whisky.

Their first whisky was distilled in 2007 and was originally to be called ‘Glen Rozelieures’, but the distillery had to rename their whisky from 1 January 2009 in order to avoid any confusion with Scotch whisky. The whisky is now known as ‘G.Rozelieures’. The ‘G’ pays homage to the Grallet family, who founded the distillery. ‘Rozelieures’ is the name of the village in which the distillery is located.

Maison de la Mirabelle is located at: 16 Rue du capitaine Durand, 54290 Rozelieures, Lorraine, F-54290

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon)

The distillery was established in 1997 by Thierry Guillon and started distilling whisky in 1999.

Rather than using the more traditional ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon barrels for whisky maturation, Guillon Distillery age their whiskies in barrels previously used for white, red and fortified wine maturation. In particular, the distillery uses many barrels previously used to mature sweeter style French white wines, such as Banyuls, Loupiac and Sauternes.

Guillon Distillery offer a range of single malt whiskies matured in various cask types and bottled at a range of strengths (Alcohol By Volume).

Guillon Distillery is located in Louvois, in the Montagne de Reims area of the Champagne region. A map showing the location of Louvois can be found here: Map.

A visitor centre is located at the distillery and is open to the public. Free tours are available and include a whisky tasting at the conclusion of the tour. Tours take around one hour and are conducted in French. Translations are available in Chinese, Dutch, English, and German.

Hepp Distillery (Distillerie Artisanale Hepp)

Distillerie Hepp is a family owned and operated business that was established in 1972.

They produce eaux de vie (fruit brandies), a range of liqueurs and single malt whisky.

The whisky is named ‘Tharcis Hepp’ after its maker. The whisky is also labelled as ‘Whisky Alsacien’ and ‘Single Malt Uberach’ – denoting the region and village in which the distillery is located.

Distillerie Hepp is located at: 94 rue de la Walck, 67350, Uberach, France.

Northmaen (Northmæn) / Ferme-brasserie La Chapelle

In addition to a range of beers, they also produce single malt whisky. They have released 3, 5 (single cask) and 8 year old whiskies.

Ferme-brasserie La Chapelle is located at: Le Centre, 76780 La Chapelle Saint-Ouen, France.

Organic Spirit Distillerie

The distillery was first established in 1920 by Auguste Brunet. Organic Spirit Distillerie is currently owned and operated by Stéphane Brunet.

As the name suggests, they produce a range of organic spirits including vodka, rhum (rum), gin and whisky.

Organic Spirit Distillerie is located at: 222 Avenue De Montignac, 16100 Merpins, France.

P&M – Brasserie Pietra and Domaine Mavela (Distillerie Domaine Mavela)

P&M is actually a cooperative between two companies (Domaine Mavela and Brasserie Pietra) for the production of whisky. The name ‘P&M’ represents this partnership between ‘Pietra & Mavela’. Established as a brewery in 1996, Pietra produces the mash that is then distilled at the Mavela Distillery. The partnership have been producing whisky since 2001.

The Domaine Mavela Distillery uses Holstein stills.

P&M have three whiskies: P&M Pure Malt, P&M Blend, and P&M Superior Blend (Blend Supérieur).

Both the brewery (Pietra) and distillery (Mavela) are located on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

Wambrechies Distillery (Distillerie Claeyssens de Wambrechies)

The distillery was established as a Gin (Genièvre, Jenever) distillery in 1817. In addition to Gin, the distillery now also produces single malt whisky.

Wambrechies Distillery sell two single malt whiskies: a 3 year old and an 8 year old.

Wambrechies Distillery is located in Wambrechies, in Northern France.

The distillery is open to visitors and guided tours are available. There is a small fee for tours, a whisky tasting is included.

Warenghem Distillery (Distillerie Warenghem)

The distillery was founded in 1900 by Léon Warenghem to produce cider and fruit spirits. Warenghem Distillery is named after the family who came to Lannion on the pink granite coast from Nord Pas de Calais in 1900. The distillery expanded its product range and began selling whisky in 1987.

Warenghem Distillery produces both single malt whiskies and blended whiskies.

Warenghem Distillery is located on Route de Guingamp, in Lannion, Brittany (Bretagne).

The distillery is open to visitors and guided tours are available from mid-June until the end of August. Tours are free and whisky tasting is included. Guided tours are conducted every hour during the following opening hours: Monday from 3pm to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 12am and 3pm to 6pm, Saturday from 10 am to 12 am. The distillery location is shown on the following map: Warenghem Distillery (Distillerie Warenghem) location.

A taste of French whisky releases

Some of the whiskies produced in France are listed below, along with some brief information on each.

 

Uberach Single Malt

Bertrand Distillery (Distillerie Bertrand).

Bottled at 42.2% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Non chill-filtered.
Aged in new oak casks initially, followed by further maturation in ex-Banyuls (fortified wine) casks.

 

Uberach Single Cask

Bertrand Distillery (Distillerie Bertrand).

Bottled at 43.8% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Non chill-filtered.
Aged in a single ex-Banyuls (fortified wine) cask.

 

Brenne French Single Malt Whisky – Finished in Cognac Barrels

Brenne Whisky (Brenne Estate).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 750ml bottle.
Made from 100% organic barley, which is grown in the Cognac region of France.
Matured in new Limousin oak barrels, finished in ex-Cognac casks.
Single barrel bottlings.
Launched in October 2012.

 

Bastille 1789 Hand-Crafted Whisky

Daucourt Distillery (Distillerie Daucourt).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Made from a combination of barley and wheat.
Aged for five to seven years in a combination of French Limousin oak, cherry wood and acacia casks.

 

Eddu Silver

Des Menhirs Distillery (Distillerie Des Menhirs).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
‘Pure buckwheat whisky’ (no other grains used).
Launched in September 2002.

 

Eddu Grey Rock

Des Menhirs Distillery (Distillerie Des Menhirs).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Blended whisky with 30% buckwheat whisky.

 

Eddu Gold

Des Menhirs Distillery (Distillerie Des Menhirs).

Bottled at 43% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
‘Pure buckwheat whisky’ (no other grains used).
Limited quantity of 1,400 bottles per year.
launched in September 2006.

 

Glann ar Mor – Breton Single Malt Whisky

Glann ar Mor Distillery (Distillerie Glann ar Mor).

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Non chill-filtered and no colouring (caramel) added.
un-peated single malt whisky, aged in ex-Bourbon casks.
Bottled in November 2010.

 

Kornog – Breton Peated Single Malt (Taouarc’h Trived 10 BC)

Glann ar Mor Distillery (Distillerie Glann ar Mor).

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Non chill-filtered and no colouring (caramel) added.
Peated single malt whisky, aged in ex-Bourbon casks.
Limited quantity available.

 

Kornog – Breton Peated Single Malt (Taouarc’h Pevared 10 SC)

Glann ar Mor Distillery (Distillerie Glann ar Mor).

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Non chill-filtered and no colouring (caramel) added.
Peated single malt whisky, aged in ex-Sauternes (wine) casks.
Limited quantity available.

 

Kornog – Breton Peated Single Malt (Taouarc’h Eilvet 10)

Glann ar Mor Distillery (Distillerie Glann ar Mor).

Cask strengtth, bottled at 59.2% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Non chill-filtered and no colouring (caramel) added.
Peated single malt whisky, aged in a single ex-Bourbon cask.
Limited quantity of 247 bottles.

 

Glann ar Mor – Breton Single Malt Whisky

Glann ar Mor Distillery (Distillerie Glann ar Mor).

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Non chill-filtered and no colouring (caramel) added.
Un-peated single malt whisky, aged in a single ex-Bourbon cask.
Bottled in November 2008, limited quantity of 305 bottles.
Glann ar Mor’s first whisky release.

 

Glann ar Mor – Celtique Connexion

Various Scottish whisky distilleries – further maturation by Glann ar Mor Distillery (Distillerie Glann ar Mor).

The whisky used in the Celtique Connexion range has been originally distilled and matured in Scotland. Glann ar Mor then matures this whisky further in casks previously used for French wines.
Celtique Connexion whiskies are non chill-filtered and no colouring (caramel) is added.
All Celtique Connexion whiskies are single cask. Examples of casks used include: Armagnac, Champagne, Coteaux du Layon, Saussignac, and Sauternes.

 

Single Malt de la Montagne de Reims 42%

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Bottled at 42% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Lightly peated.

 

Single Malt de la Montagne de Reims 46%

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Peated.

 

Guillon No.1 – Single Malt de la Montagne de Reims

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Uniquely matured in a range of barrels at various stages. Matured in new oak for the first year, followed by an ex-whisky cask for the second year, an ex-white wine barrel for the third, an ex-red wine for the fourth, and finally completing maturation for a fifth year in an ex-Port cask.

 

Single Malt de Louvois

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Bottled at 43% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.

 

Single Malt de Louvois

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Bottled at 43% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.

 

Elevé en fût de Banyuls No. 0001

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Aged in ex-Banyuls casks (Banyuls is a French wine region famous for fortified and sweet wines).

 

Elevé en fût de Meursault No. 0002

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Aged in ex-Meursault casks (Meursault is a French wine region in Burgundy (Bourgogne) famous for white wines).

 

Elevé en fût de Champagne No. 0003

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Aged in ex-Champagne casks.

 

Elevé en fût de Loupiac No. 0004

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Aged in ex-Loupiac casks (Loupiac is a French wine region in Bordeaux famous for sweet white wines).

 

Elevé en fût de Sauternes No. 0005

Guillon Distillery (Distillerie Guillon).

Aged in ex-Sauternes casks (Sauternes is a French dessert wine from the Sauternais region in Bordeaux).

 

P&M Pure Malt

P&M – Brasserie Pietra and Domaine Mavela (Distillerie Domaine Mavela).

Bottled at 42% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.

 

P&M Blend

P&M – Brasserie Pietra and Domaine Mavela (Distillerie Domaine Mavela).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.

 

P&M Superior Blend (Blend Supérieur)

P&M – Brasserie Pietra and Domaine Mavela (Distillerie Domaine Mavela).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.

 

Wambrechies Single Malt Whisky – 3 Years Old

Wambrechies Distillery (Distillerie Wambrechies).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.

 

Wambrechies Single Malt Whisky – 8 Years Old

Wambrechies Distillery (Distillerie Wambrechies).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.

 

Armorik Breton Single Malt Whisky

Warenghem Distillery (Distillerie Warenghem).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.

 

Armorik Double Maturation Breton Single Malt Whisky (Special Edition)

Warenghem Distillery (Distillerie Warenghem).

Bottled at 42% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
Aged for at least 5 years in oak barrels from Armorique Regional Nature Park, and then transferred to Sherry casks for a second ageing period.

 

Breizh Special Edition Breton Blended Whisky

Warenghem Distillery (Distillerie Warenghem).

Bottled at 42% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
50% grain, 50% malt whisky.

 

Galleg French Blended Whisky

Warenghem Distillery (Distillerie Warenghem).

Bottled at 42% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
50% grain, 50% malt whisky.
The name ‘Galleg’ means ‘France’ in Breton, a Celtic language spoken in Brittany.

 

WB (Whisky Breton) Blended Breton Whisky

Warenghem Distillery (Distillerie Warenghem).

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). 700ml bottle.
25% Malt Whisky and 75% Grain Whisky.
WB Blended Breton Whisky is the first whisky that was made in Brittany, released in 1987.
Aged in oak barrels for three years.

 


WorldWhisky.com © :: Privacy Policy