An Amazing Price on a Whisky of the Utmost Rarity – Breton Whisky News

An Amazing Price on a Whisky of the Utmost Rarity
Glann-Ar-Mor Distillery Kornog “Roc’h Hir” Bretagne Peated Single Malt Whisky (750ml) (Previously $110) ($54.99)

“At 50% off the original retail price and with a scant 60 cases available, it may be the only crack we have at this special, idiosyncratic whisky.” — David Othenin-Girard, K&L Spirits Buyer

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Our spirits buyers are well-known for scouting out rarities and deals you can’t find anywhere else, but it’s our opinion that David Othenin-Girard has really outdone himself with today’s offer. Just hearing that it’s a peated single malt whisky from Bretagne on France’s northwest coast should make your ears perk up. Reading David’s notes below on the long and winding road it took to get this whisky to you for under $55 makes it clear that this bottling is all the more special. Simply put, the Glann-Ar-Mor Distillery Kornog “Roc’h Hir” is a spirit that hits a remarkable balance between rarity and affordability, and you should not hesitate to make this part of your collection.

Glann-Ar-Mor Distillery Kornog “Roc’h Hir” Bretagne Peated Single Malt Whisky (750ml) (Previously $110) ($54.99)

91 points Whisky Advocate: “Made by the sea in Côtes dArmor on direct-fired small stills attached to worm tubs, which the French elegantly call condenseurs serpentins. This has smoked fish, iodine, pine forests, driftwood, lemon zest, and clean medicinal qualities rather than peatiness. Waxed lemon, light fudge, lemon bonbons, and vanilla from the bourbon barrels ride a crescendo of pepper and ginger before smoke obscures all before it. A match for any Islay. (JM)” (11/2018)

K&L Notes: From the legendary Celtic Whisky Co. on the far-flung coast of Bretagne, the Glann-Ar-Mor distillery is widely considered one of the world’s best. This tiny, authentic distillery was founded in 1997 and has sold its excellent Islay still-peated malt since 2009, but we’ve never had the privilege to sell their incredible whiskies until today. Their excellent 40 ppm expression, Roc’h Hir is matured only in bourbon barrels. It’s assumed to be under 10 years old, but it drinks as well as any Islay expression. The cultural connection between this part of France and the western Isles is strong, and like those whiskies, the spirit of the ocean is imbued in every bottle. The distillery sits on the site of a farm founded in 1668 in the heart of the Tregor region. Founded by Jean and Martine Donnay, the name of the distillery translates to “by the seaside.” The rugged, windswept landscape is in constant flux, and in the humid climate and temperate weather, maturation occurs relatively briskly. It is Glann-Ar-Mor s commitment to the traditional production practices that sets it apart from many other modern craft distilleries. These whiskies are distilled slowly over an open flame on tiny pot stills. Fermentation is done exclusively in small wooden washbacks made from Oregon pine. The spirit is condensed in traditional worm tubs and never chill-filtered or colored. The tiny production means that these whiskies are expensive to make, but they do rank among some of the world’s finest.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 07, 2021

The Glann-Ar-Mor Distillery on the far-flung coast of Bretagne represents one of the most unlikely stories in whisky today. This little distillery committed to making Scottish-style malt the very old school way was but a legend to us for many years. I’d read reviews of the incredible quality and stupendous depth of the whiskies, but after reaching out to the distillery, I could not find a way to get the products to market. I even travelled to France searching for whisky years ago, but the extremely remote location made visiting impossible. So, I was absolutely delighted when I turned up at an appointment with a distributor and a kind Frenchman joined us, offering this special whisky. After years of pining for this rare relic, here it was, finally sitting in front of me.

The anticipation was palpable, like trying any unobtainable legend, except this one was for SALE! And honestly, it lived up to the hype for me in every way. The gorgeous, peaty whisky could have easily been from one of Islay’s finest, even better than what many of the modern distillers are doing now. But my utter joy at finding this delicious and completely underappreciated spirit died moments later when the price sheet was handed to me. And yes, it was worth $110. Well worth it considering the quality, scarcity, and notoriety–at least in Euro-malt geekdom. But I also knew that we’d never make much of a dent at that price point. It’s simply too much of a risk for most people to pony up for the unknown. That’s because Scotland still did peated whisky so well and so affordably. Ardbeg for $45 and Laphroaig at $40 seemed like something that would last forever.

Fast-forward two long, weird years, and the world’s turned upside down. Not only have we seen incredible price pressure on Scotch, but the Glann-Ar-Mor distillery itself has sold. Whether the quality will remain is yet to be seen, but the likelihood that we ever see it in the states again is almost unfathomable considering the price point and collective shrug that the first launch garnered. And as luck would have it, the distributor that sells Kornog ALSO sold. They’d already had trouble selling this product at the ridiculously high price, and there was no way the new distributor would take the final cases off their hands. So, I made them an offer that would allow us to price this product exactly where it should have been two years ago. At 50% off the original retail price and with a scant 60 cases available, it may be the only crack we have at this special idiosyncratic whisky. This might be one of the best deals we’ll ever have in single malt and many of the geeks have already loaded up, but I think this whisky has appeal to any lover of peat, casual and connoisseur alike.

Let’s have a taste of this magnificent and soon-to-be extinct little malt and say a wishful prayer perhaps that it may be revived and return at a similar price! The color is old gold. A wafting oceanic quality immediately hits the nose. Salt air, fishing boats, the seafood shake in Tarbet. It’s somewhat Ardbeg-like, but in a way that modern Ardbeg distinctly isn’t. The nose is pure TAPAS! Green olive tapenade, boquerones, pickled apricots, citrus oil, green walnuts, almond butter, sea spray, and camphor smoke. On the palate the bold peat, which seems to have been held in suspension or perhaps imprisoned by the fruit and the oils on the nose, is released. A dark, heavy peat coupled with more fruit and lemon rind, thank god! Still salty with bitter herbs, roasted spices, olive oil, also just more olives. It remains pointed and vibrant despite these heady, savory notes, while the chewy peat, citrus, and orchard fruits keep us from being totally overwhelmed. While I’d love to see this at full strength, there’s something extremely approachable and generous about the whisky at 92 proof. Of course, no chillfiltration, so the texture and length are fully intact. Had this whisky been released two years ago at $55, as it sits on our shelf today, I have no doubt that we’d all be referring to Bretagne as the other South Coast of Islay, and maybe our dear friends in Pleubian would have kept their gorgeous little distillery. Instead, it will live on, in our cabinets and on our bars, an artifact of what could have been and likely one of the best peated whiskies in your collection. We’ll all make do, I’m sure.

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