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Warenghem Whisky

Pioneers of French whisky, Armorik is one of the standout names in the country’s thriving scene and a leading light of the world whisky category. Every drop of Armorik whisky is mashed, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled at the brand’s distillery, where a fruity spirit that reflects terroir is created and presented with natural colour.

But this proudly Breton single malt is a relatively recent chapter of the distillery’s history. It dates back to 1900 when the Warenghem family moved from northern France to the pink granite coast of Lannion, Breton. There Léon Warenghem founded a distillery which initially specialised in the production of fruit and plant liqueurs and creams. Elixir d'Armorique, the inaugural product, was a huge success, kickstarting the business.

In 1967, Paul-Henri, the latest generation of Warenghems, joined forces with Yves Leizour to diversify the range and by 1974 they had moved the distillery from the town centre to the outskirts of Lannion. In the early 80s, Gilles Leizour, a trained pharmacist, succeeded his father and decided to take the big gamble that truly revolutionised the Warenghem Distillery.

That was the creation of the first Breton and French whisky. The WB blend, a recipe of 25% malt whisky and 75% grain whisky, was launched in 1987 and just six years later in 1993 Leizour was commissioning a distillery solely dedicated to whisky, equipped with a pair of copper stills specially designed in Cognac inspired by the kind used in Scotch whisky distilleries.

It wasn’t long until the first Breton single malt whisky followed in 1998, the Armorik. Today its produced using water located 100 metres below the distillery from the natural spring of Rest Avel. It has a very low limestone content, characterised by the granite of the Breton coast. The malted barley for Armorik single malts is sourced from Brittany and France, while the wheat used in blends comes from Brittany and non-GMO, and since 2015 the distillery has been working with organic grains, with every bit of barley from 2020 used in production being certified organic.

Great care is taken at Armorik to ensure the wort is as clear as possible to ensure that the whisky has a highly aromatic and rounded flavour and the mash tun has a perforated base that lets the wort run off while retaining the solid residue, which is given to a local farmer as cattle feed. Fermentation takes between three and four days at our distillery with two strains of yeast employed, one for optimum yield and the second for the numerous esters it creates.

Armorik whisky is double distilled and the distillers make cuts fairly high up in order to keep the majority of the aromas (the most volatile parts of the distillation). The heads and tails, are removed for subsequent redistillation, while the short and squat shape of the spirit still helps obtain a fatty and rounded distillate, despite the high cut-off.
The wood programme includes bourbon casks, oloroso sherry casks, and oak casks from Brittany sourced from the forests of Cranou and Brocéliande. Armorik has a 15-year partnership with the last cooper in Brittany, namely Jean Baptiste Le Floc’h from Douarnenez. These casks age in the unique maritime climate of Brittany’s northern coast, with mild temperatures all year round.

Whisky fans outside of France may not have been familiar with the brand prior to 2010, however, as this was when the distillery began to export its products worldwide, though the business is still a family-run affair. They still work to the same motto they’ve had since 1900, “gwelloc’h bepred”, which means “nothing but excellence” in Breton.

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