Monday, 1 August 2011

International Whisky

Think of France, and what comes to mind? Baguettes, small dogs, squeaky bicycles, wine. What probably wouldn't spring to mind is whisky: brandy perhaps, but not whisky. The French are so protective of their own regional produce (to the extent that they had cognac, champagne and bordeaux enshrined in the Treaty of Versailles) that you would not think they would try to steal another country's alcoculture and pass it off as their own. So imagine my surprise to come across a whisky distillery in Lannion!

Armorik whisky and kouign amann on a granite boulder:


Now Lannion is not in France proper - it is in Brittany, and the whisky is marketed as a product 'Celtique' as opposed to 'Francais' - there is a handy map on the back of the bottle with Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany highlighted.

And the celtique label has some traction. When the Romans empire collapsed, Britons from south and west Britain fled from the Saxons to Armorica, resulting in the area being renamed Brittany.

How does the whisky taste? As you might expect from a premium French product, very good. It is sweet and warm and slips down easily, not as complicated or characterful as some Scotch whiskies perhaps but more drinkable than most.

Whilst in Brittany, I also discovered the least healthy - but most delicious - snack I have ever come across, Kouign Amann. This consists of a dough supersaturated with butter and caramelised sugar. We heard bagpipes being played at a local music festival, and the rocks along the Côte de Granit Rose are the same pink granite boulders as you'll find in Glencoe. The extremity of Brittany is even named Pointe du Raz after a viking word.

On the pink granite coast:


Whisky, bagpipes, unhealthy food, granite rocks and a headland that sounds like Cape Wrath? Never mind being merely celtique: I reckon the Bretons are going all out for Gaeldom.

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