Exceptionnal environnement and climate for whisky maturation
It is right in the heart of "Tregor", at the far end of the "Presqu'ile Sauvage" ("The Wild Peninsula" in French), facing the ocean in the middle of a wild and authentic countryscape, that Celtic Whisky Compagnie has chosen to build its distillery Glann ar Mor (Litteraly "By the Sea" in Breton language). The maritime environnement is marked by toughness - when the predominant winds blow - as well as by tenderness. A group of seals have chosen to live happily in one of the many groups of small islands which are to be seen from the distillery. The countryscape keeps changing with the movements of the tide, which in the aera can reach twelwe meters of amplitude during the equinox.
In this land of tradition, haunted by Breton and Celtic legends, this peninsula from the "Cotes d'Armor" represents a very special setting for the implantation of a unique distillery, and this in the purest of Celtic tradition.
In spite of the beauty of the environnement, this is not the reason why Glann ar Mor is situated here : indeed, it is known that two thirds of the quality and of the character of a whisky depend directly on the conditions of its long period of maturation.
Apart from the characteristics of the casks used for the maturation and whose role is essential, three factors related to the geographical environnement play a determinent role during the ageing period :
• Influence of a maritime climate
With temperatures being always very mild, the thermometer virtually never going below 0° C in winter, and the summers being warm but temperate and free from strong and lasting heat, the peninsula's climate allows for the whisky to reach its maturity at a significantly faster rate than in areas with lower temperatures.
Yet, this faster maturation does not happen at the price of quality, it is actually just the contrary. The humidity, due to the presence of the sea, is known to favour the maturation of a spirits offering a softer character, since it accelerates the disappearance of the "fire" character which it possesses when just flowing from the pot still, delivering thus a better balanced and gentler whisky.
The combination of a mild and humid climate offers nevertheless not only advantages : it results in a rate of alcohol's evaporation (The "Angel's Share") higher than the one to be found in cooler and dryer warehouses. Our experience through the maturation of the "Celtique Connexion" in Sauternes casks has actually shown us that the peninsula's Angels are particularily thirsty !
Yet, let us not complain : our angels are no connoisseurs, since the share they take away is precisely the one we want to eliminate. Indeed, the evaporation of unwanted alcohols is, together with the exchanges happening between the spirit and the oak of the casks, one of the two reasons justifying the long maturation period to which the whisky is subject after its distillation.
Last, whisky connoisseurs know well the contribution of a maritime climate, characterized by its salty and iodin air, which influences the character of the whisky by the exchanges intervening between the inside of the cask and the ambiant environnement.
Glann ar Mor is established in an old farm, situated here since a really long time ago as one can read the date "1668" on one of its lintel.
A craftsmen's distillery with a voluntarily limited production capacity, Glann ar Mor is nonetheless a full distillery, including all the equipment which goes with it: the process starts with the raw un-milled malt and finishes with the bottling on site.
By its general design, by the choices made for its equipments and by the process which has been retained, all has been done to make of Glann ar Mor a traditional and "no compromise" distillery, with the aim of producing whiskies devoid from any concession in their quality and in their authenticity.
This evocation of a traditional distillery from the past century is not
very different from what Glann ar Mor looks like, even if the two
traditionnal pot stills are heated by gas rather than by coal.
The raw ingredients is carefully selected malted barley. This cereal is the one which has always been known for delivering the whiskies offering the greatest aromatic complexity, the latest being what makes this spirit so fascinating among the connoisseurs.
But barley is also the cereal which Breton would use when they were making whisky, as can be seen from the few references which can be found during the second half of the XIX Th century.
Glann ar Mor distillery wuses unpeated and peated malted barley, for producing two expressions of whisky :
• An un peated Single Malt whisky named Glann ar Mor.
• A peated Single Malt whisky named Kornog (meaning "The West Wind" in Breton traditional language).
For connoisseurs, Kornog is distilled from peated malt with about 35/40 PPM of phenol.
Maturation takes place in casks of voluntarily limited capacity : first fill "barrique" (225 l) having previously contained Sauternes wine, and first fill Bourbon barrels (200 l), both being retained for their recognized inherent qualities and for their favorable ratio wood/capacity.