French WhiskyGiven their long history of distilling, cooperage and fine food and wine it's surprising that the French have taken to whisky so late. Not to mention the fact that whisky is now so popular in France that it’s rapidly becoming the country's national drink (they consume more whisky per capita than the Americans, the Scots or the Irish). While the industry is young, the quality is already very high. Several producers are now marketing their wares on Australian shores.
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Europe's Expanding whisky scene bears fruits in France.Not only good at enjoying whisky, the French are making it - and doing it with a prodigious flair. The industry is set to take off. Nicolas Julhès, head of the Distillerie de Paris anticipates “...within 15 years the world's best whiskies will be French. We will be able to stop copying the Scots and bring a real French style." Most French whisky producers already differentiate from their Scottish counterparts by use of a range of cereals and still types (these include cognac stills, Armagnac stills, fruit eau-de-vie stills and portable stills).
There are dozens of rising stars in the south and near Alsace, but those in Brittany, a western region with strong Celtic roots, are proving the industry has already ‘arrived’, turning out seriously good malts and blends. Look out for whiskies from the Warenghem Distillery marketed under the Armorik label. Located in Lannion in the north of Brittany, originally the company produced a herbal elixir (“Elixir d'Armorique” still available today) then moved on to fruit liqueurs. They began making blended whiskies in 1987 and then tackled the single malt category in 1998. An unusual move, but one that’s paid off in spades as they've won several awards in a very short time. Also noteworthy are peated malts from Glann ar Mor - their first bottling of unpeated single malt hit the market in late 2008. Already several releases have achieved big, big scores from Jim Murray et al.