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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

October 24, 2018


Four French whiskies

From Brittany and the Alps. That’s right, that’s the extreme sides of the hexagon…

Armorik 10 yo ‘Edition 2018’ (46%, OB, France, 2000 bottles)

Armorik 10 yo ‘Edition 2018’ (46%, OB, France, 2000 bottles) Four stars
Some new French whiskies are just beer that’s been distilled in unlikely stills and matured for a short time in bizarre wine casks. This (and a few others) is just the opposite. Colour: gold. Nose: cereals and cakes, plus a little vanilla from some proper ex-bourbon wood, plus a few bready notes, a wee touch of guava, and a very distant whiff of aromatic smoke, as if the neighbours had burned pinewood or even eucalyptus. The whole works a treat. Mouth: oh, game, set and match. This compares with the best Scottish Midlanders, I would say, between, perhaps, Blair Athol and Aberfeldy, while there are even ideas of Balvenie. Or Arran. But comparison isn’t reason, is it? So crushed bananas, oranges, vanilla, maple syrup, sweet barley, mirabelles, and white peaches. C’est assez parfait, tout ça. Finish: medium, mellow yet firm, and rather all on Jaffa cakes, oranges, and a touch of mango. Comments: I wouldn’t say this is a surprise. Oh, there, it is a surprise. They’re in the big leagues now.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Armorik ‘Triagoz’ (46%, OB, France, 2018)

Armorik ‘Triagoz’ (46%, OB, France, 2018) Two stars and a half
I think this is a light peater. By the way, Armorik are Breton and do benefit from an IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée). It’s all a little political I have to say, but what isn’t in France? Colour: straw. Nose: don’t expect Ardbeg or Lagavulin, this is very remotely peaty. It’s a bit as if someone had smoked pineapples using beech wood. Also touches of wine gums and marshmallows, signs of youth. Very moderately intense, I would say… so far… Mouth: the smoke’s ore obvious, and the whole works but I’m finding a little sawdust and, well, I’m not sure this is fully integrated. It reminds me a bit of Benriach’s first very young peaters, pears are great and smoke is great, but peated pears won’t quite do it in my book. Finish: medium, a tad gritty. Cold smoked tea from last night’s teapot, plus tinned pineapples. Comments: not bad at all, of course, but the 10 yo anytime! Or perhaps this, when it’s at least 10.
SGP:643 - 78 points.

Domaine des Hautes Glaces ‘Flavis’ (56%, OB, France, 273 bottles, 2018)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces ‘Flavis’ (56%, OB, France, 273 bottles, 2018) Four stars
This baby was made out of barley that was harvested at the domaine in 2010. Indeed this is single-estate malt whisky, so own terroir, so to speak. No bollocks here ;-). Ah, forgot to say, it was matured in an ex-vin jaune cask. Colour: gold. Nose: the last time I found this much butterscotch that was in a 5 yo Aultmore that I remember very well. Other than that, there’s some aniseed bread, touches of caraway, elder flowers, woodruff, pumpkin seeds, brioche and panettone… Breakfast anyone? With water: honeysuckle and mullein flowers! Love this! Mouth (neat): excellent. I remember I had tried an earlier cask and thought it was a little rough (rather too young) but this is big and quite perfect, the only side that’s a little surprising being the sweetness (raisins) while vin jaune is bone dry. Wasn’t it rather vin de paille (straw wine)?  Anyway, there’s apricot and raisin bread everywhere here, plus caraway and cinnamon. The whole’s very textured, almost fat. With water: same-ish, with more grape skins and walnuts. That, is more vin jaune. Finish: medium, very bready. Comments: love it when whiskies are this close to the raw materials – despite the wine casks.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Domaine des Hautes Glaces ‘Ceros’ (54%, OB, France, rye, 764 bottles, 2018)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces ‘Ceros’ (54%, OB, France, rye, 764 bottles, 2018) Five stars
Rye from the 2012 harvest, matured in vin jaune casks again. I had totally loved earlier casks of Ceros. Ah, yes, vin jaune is matured under a yeast veil, just like sherry, except that they use savagnin instead of palomino, don’t do soleras, and never fortify the wine. Colour: pale gold. Nose: as expected, this is liquid rye bread, to which some mad man would have added custard, apricot juice, plums, white chocolate, and wee bits of mangos. There’s also a perfect wee earthiness, lovely. With water: do you like bread as much as I do? Mouth (neat): this is so good! Stellar distillate, with the most dazzling gingerbread, muscovado sugar, tangerines, a touch of caraway, and many kinds of edible roots, even beet. With water: oh this is funny, there’s a saltiness that comes out, with even wee hints of crushed pickled sardines or anchovies. More fun, why would we be against that? Finish: long, totally bready. Comments: pretty amazing. No wonder that after Bruichladdich, Rémy-Cointreau bought the distillery, together with Westland in the far West of the good old US of A.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all French whiskies we've tasted so far






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