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Glann ar Mor Single Malt French Whisky (700ml)

Brittany, FRANCE
$175. 00
$2100.00 Dozen
ABV: 46%
Martine and Jean Donnay established the "Celtic Whisky Compagnie" in 1997 and began distilling in 1999 with Glann ar Mor's first bottling of unpeated single malt hitting the market in late 2008. By November 2009, a peated malt was released (30-35 ppm) under the Kornog label, meaning "West Wind" in Breton. The distillery is located on a seafront, hence the name, which translates "At the edge of the sea". The packaging further emphasises the locale, featuring a graphic of the Héaux de Bréhat lighthouse. This is a traditional operation that employs small stills, 100% live flame for both the spirit still and the wash still / slow distillation, wooden washbacks and seaside maturation.

Currently the whiskies are just over 3 years old, but already show surprising complexity and balance. For instance, the very first bottling of Kornog won a Silver Medal at the 2009 "Malt Maniacs Awards", with a score of 87 points which compares very favourably with iconic Islay whiskies. Dave Broom of maltadvocate.com is an enthusiast for French whisky, especially Glann ar Mor and his review is below.

Dave Broom comments, "French whisky encompasses a wide range of approaches and flavours, 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.

Tasting note: The whisky has spent 3 years in a Bourbon cask. Polished brass. Thick, oily peat at first before a dryish / mildly fruity nose which is also slightly grassy. Sweeter in later inhalations revealing sponge cake, wax, oil (linseed?) followed by hints of dried apple, straw bale and vanilla after five minutes aeration. An odd yet appealing combination. Gentle yet fresh delivery with crisp / grassy malt and subtle herbal-tea like flavours. An unusual arrangement. Keeps you guessing. 46% Alc./Vol.

Other reviews... [NB - Review is for 2012 bottling] Glann ar Mor is a rising star in the world of whisky, one of three very impressive distilleries in the Brittany region in Northern France, and this new single malt, fresh from the cask at the back end of September, is its finest release yet. A mixture of soft tinned fruits, especially sweet pears in syrup, sweet vanilla ice cream, and a delicate but assertive earthy underbed make this an utter delight. Magnifique. 92 points
- (Winter 2012) Reviewed by: Dominic Roskrow, www.maltadvocate.com