Whisky Review: Kornog – Celtic Whisky Compagnie (part 2)

March 14, 2012 § 8 Comments

In preparation for my fast-approaching trip to Europe where I’ll be attending the World Whisky Conference, the Icons of Whisky awards, Whisky Live UK and doing a few days in both Scotland and France, I thought it best to do a pre-trip detox.  Limiting myself to only the necessary sips of spirits and events that my life requires.

…But then again – I AM a whisky blogger…

I can’t totally abandon all fun drinking for a week, can I?  I say no.  So I have found myself wishing to revisit a beautiful bottle of Kornog that was gifted to me by the ever-talented head distiller, Jean Donnay, of the Celtic Whisky Compagnie.  And since I already published my post about my visit to his picturesque distillery (click HERE for Part 1), I thought today was the day to abandon my carrot+kale+celery concoction and reunite myself with my trusty Glencarin glass.  Here it goes!

Goodbye Juice-on-the-Roof

The Whisky Woman's Juice on the Roof - a silly attempt to detox

Hello Friend!

Happiness in a glass

ABOUT: 46% abv (92 proof), Peated Single Malt Whisky, twice distilled in copper pots over live flame, wooden washbacks, aged in French Oak on an earth floor where it rested in the salty-air climate of Brittany, France for at least 3 years

NOSE: Definitely classic, pure “peat” (think Sharpie marker), toasted cereal, hint of dried tropical fruit, ripe banana

PALATE: Sweet, buttery grain, smooth approach in the beginning, obvious peat appears in the middle which morphs into the black pepper that cuts through the buttered grains

FINISH: Happily strong, travels nicely through the mouth with a long, lingering finish.  Black pepper re-appears on the tip of the tongue at the very end.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The little time in the barrels makes it very light and approachable and gives space to let this whisky’s classic peat notes shine through.  If you’re new to whisky and want to find out if you like peated malts, this is a GREAT place to start.  Not many barrel notes – which is expected.  Very enjoyable.  A PERFECT whisky to drink during the transition from Winter to Spring.  The peat is there to add a little warmth while the lightness is refreshing.

Photo courtesy of Celtic Whisky Compagnie

Celtic Whisky Compagnie in Brittany, France (part 1)

December 12, 2011 § 20 Comments

Earlier this year, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the distillery of perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the whisky world (but not for long!).

Celtic Whisky Compagnie’s most popular brands are Kornog and Glann ar Mor.  (Specific product reviews in part 2 of this series).  On the heels of the Winter issue, before you send your 1st edition Fall 2011 Whisky Advocate magazine out to the recycling bin (or storage bin), check out their nice mention!

Photo courtesy of the Whisky Advocate

Stepping off the train from Paris to Brittany, you arrive in this beautiful, small, sunny, sea-breeze soaked town where it’s easy to start imagining ones’ early retirement.  Shortly there after, we were graciously picked up by my dear friend and head distiller, Jean Donnay.   As he drove us down the windy coastal streets, we watched the tide quickly retreat and the oyster farmers rushed in to collect their crops.  After a blissful tour of the distillery, we shared the most delicious seafood lunch on the top floor of the distillery where we talked about and drank Jean’s amazing whiskies.

The Whisky Woman & head distiller Jean Donnay

And amazing, they are.  This is truly a labor of love.  Everything they make is hand-crafted and produced by Jean and his wonderful wife, Martine.  They do everything right; 100% Scottish malt, live fire, slow distillation, wooden washbacks, worm tube copper stills … but still, given the right skill, patience, investment and knowledge, all of that can theoretically be duplicated anywhere. However, in addition to their passion and drive, what Celtic Whisky Compagnie has that you can’t copy is their perfectly strategic location for “Seaside Maturation.”

Remind you of somewhere?  Starts with an “S” ends with a “land”… exactly.

This carefully produced spirit comes off the stills and relaxes on the earthen floor right by the sea.  The warehouse is on the tip of a peninsula so you get the wonderfully moist, salty sea air continuously swirling around the aging whiskies.  When you sip Jean’s products, you are transported to this place and the amazing journey for your senses begins.

Photo credit and owned by: Local Infusions (c) 2011

Those of you in Europe – get your hands on a bottle or two (if you’re lucky!).  As for us Americans, definitely pick up a bottle on your next pass through Europe!  You’ll be glad that you did!

The distillery with owners Jean & Martine Donnay

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