This month we are proud to introduce a single malt from Brittany in France. Yep, you read it right, France. The Armorik Classic. The Warenghem Distillery has been making spirits and liqueurs since 1900, winning their first award for their ‘Elixir d’Armorique’ only a year later. The ‘Elixir’ is still produced today, 115 years later. In 1983, the Warenghem distillery team turned their hand to making whiskies. The brand they release their whiskies under is Breton Whisky. The single malt (Armorik) is aged in refill bourbon barrels. It is a boutique distillery with only 14 employees, which gives them the freedom to make whisky with passion, not because of a corporate directive.
One way this dedication to the whisky is demonstrated is by the lack of chill filtering in the Armorik. Chill filtering (filtering the whisky at extreme low temperatures prior to bottling) removes many of the fatty acids, proteins and esters responsible for the tastes and aromas in the whisky. These compounds may precipitate out of whiskies – called flocculation – when cold giving it a ‘cloudy’ appearance with visible ‘specks’ (or ‘flocculants’) in the whisky. Thus, many distilleries chill filter to prevent this phenomenon – but the down side is removing these compounds also removes some of the taste and smell of the whisky. Full credit to the Warenghem boys for choosing to forego this process thus ensuring we get to taste their whisky exactly as it comes out of the oak.
The Armorik Classic’s label insists it is aged in refilled bourbon barrels, which I am sure it is, but it also has aging in sherry casks giving it a more interesting complexity.
The nose is subtle, but has all the hallmarks of a single malt; Vanilla and barley sugar but underlying that are some additional hints of interest including Lantana and raw tobacco.
The palate has an immediate and intense impact in the palate. The luscious richness is striking with full fruit flavours of dried apricots and ripe peaches. Musk and toffee are the undertones of this full strength flavour bomb.
This is really worth a try. Full of flavour. A bit different to Scottish single malts, which is not a fault but a pleasure.