France’s best-known whisky distillery announces launch of first new product in 20 years, Gwalarn
The Celtic Whisky Distillery currently produces three very different whiskies; their new release for this month, Gwalarn, is a blend whisky created as a tribute to the origins of CWC of collecting whisky from distilleries in the Celtic region and diluting with natural mineral water that flows through the region’s pink granite rocks. The blend comes from two malts (Kornog produced by the distillery and Scottish malt and one rye (from Germany). The intention for Gwalarn is to produce a liquid greater than the sum of its parts.
The other two existing expressions from Celtic Whisky Distillery are both single malts, Glann Ar Mor and Kornog, created from grain to liquid at the distillery using artisan methods.
The distillery is located in Brittany on the “sauvage” peninsular in a unique position facing the Island of Bréhat and produces whiskies in the purest artisanal tradition. Benefiting from the northerly Brittany winds, and ocean climes and mild weather the whiskies are well placed within the perfect conditions for the crucial ageing process and showcase a unique identity. Jim Murray was quoted in the release of the 2019 Whisky Bible: “There are good whiskies in France. The best distillery in mainland France is probably the Celtic Whisky Distillery”.
Celtic Blend (not aged, on-site blend)
Gwalarn (meaning the north west wind)
The nose is rich and opulent with the first powerful notes of grain and slight peat give way to an aromatic palette combining the sweetness of vanilla, the complexity of leather and smoky tobacco and some honey. In the mouth the honey extends supported by slight peat and saline notes with aromas of gingerbread combined with flavours of candied fruit.
Single Malts and Special Editions (aged, produced on-site)
Both of these whiskies have been redesigned and repacked for 2021.
Glann Ar Mor (meaning by the sea)
Truly elegant the nose this offers notes of honey and toffee and a hint of brine and iodine from the Brittany coast. The palate offers honey, toffee, notes of apricot and mild spices and the finish is smooth and delicate. Once the ageing in bourbon barrels has come to an end Glann Ar Mor is bottled at 46% ABV.
Kornog (meaning the west wind)
Bouquet of aromas from lemon peel to beeswax enhanced with a touch of vanilla on the nose perfect balanced in the mouth blending the smokiness of peat with fruit and spices (ginger, white pepper), the result of patient ageing. The finish is intense and smoky. Kornog has very peaty character.
Note: The latter two both rated as “superstars that give us all a reason to live”** in the most recent Whisky Bible tastings.
Glann Ar Mor and Kornog are produced on-site and the distillery is one of the very few in France to work with authentic methods only a handful of people continue to use across the world; the stills are heated over an open flame for slow distillation and wooden fermenters (made from Oregon pine) are also used, which, thanks to their indigenous yeasts, provide greater complexity than stainless steel fermenters. Similarly, the use of copper serpentine condensers gives a richer texture and greater aromatic richness. Finally, the spirit is aged in Bourbon barrels in a cellar located just by the sea. Thus, the emphasis is placed on quality, taking advantage of an exceptional environment and artisanal know-how.
Celtic Whisky Distillery’s mission is to produce a malted barley whisky of uncompromising quality and authenticity has been accelerated by the recent acquisition from Maison Villevert; until now Glann Ar Mor and Kornog were distributed by selective prestigious merchants as well a selection of Michelin starred establishments in France and a few additional countries.
Those whiskies will immediately benefit from the excellent distribution network created in 2015 (in France and abroad) for the brands in the Maison Villevert group and they will become stablemates of other great brands such as: G’Vine and Nouaison gins, June flavoured gins, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal, La Guilde du Cognac and Excellia Tequila. It marks a first stride forwards on the path to new goals: first acquisition and first step into the world of whisky and first move outside of the Cognac area – the region in which Maison Villevert has been based since 2001.
“I am full of admiration for Martine and Jean Donnay’s hard work at the Celtic Whisky Distillerie and success over the past twenty years. Together, they have demonstrated their passion, conviction, expertise and a thirst for excellence, with spectacular results. I look forward to adding the support of our knowledge and network to build on these exceptional foundations,” says Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, founder and director of Maison Villevert.
Availability and Price
Gwalarn Celtic Blend Whisky
The Whisky Exchange
Glann Ar Mor
The Whisky Exchange
The Whisky Exchange
About Maison Villevert
Since 2001, Maison Villevert has created and developed its own brands and brands for its partners. The group of almost 100 employees as an annual turnover of 60 million Euros, produces a volume of 70,000 hl of pure alcohol (25 million 75 cl bottles) and aims to become a benchmark medium-sized company within the prestigious world of spirits.
About the Celtic Whisky Distillery
Founded in 1997, Celtic Whisky Distillery is one of France’s best-known distilleries and a pioneer of French whisky. Under the impetus of Jean-Sébastien Robicquet (Master distiller and founder of Maison Villevert), the distillery has set itself great ambitions: to become the benchmark for French whisky while developing both its Breton footprint and its Celtic roots. It is not only the marine environment of the Brittany coast that imparts natural flavour, the distillery sits on the area’s unique pink granite through which all water is filtered providing natural filtration and minerality.
*Jim Murray referenced the distillery as Glann Ar Mor since renamed as Celtic Whisky Distillery
**Whisky Bible latest ratings:
Glann Ar Mor Marris Otter Barley: 95
Kornog St Ivy: 94.5
Kornog St Erwan: 96
85-89,5: Very good to excellent, definitely worth buying
94-97,5: Superstars that give us all a reason to live
The Acquisition by Maison Villevert
With the acquisition of the Celtic Whisky Compagnie, Jean-Sébastien Robicquet is expanding his area of influence in the world of French spirits. This is in line with Maison Villevert’s continuity of strategy, because while Jean-Sébastien Robicquet is best known for his exquisite white grape spirits such as the awardwinning G’Vine Floraison, he has also been producing brown spirits for over ten years now. These include Excellia, an excellent tequila crowned Best Spirits at the International Wine & Spirits Competition (London 2011); La Guilde du Cognac, awarded Gold and Double Gold medals at the San Francisco Spirits Competition (2018), and Nouaison gin Réserve, aged in cognac barrels that has received multiple awards since its launch in 2020.
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