Distillerie Warenghem Overview
In Brittany, cousin to Ireland and Scotland, where the Celtic soul continues to thrive, whisky has found a coastal heathland environment perfect for ageing under the best possible conditions. The sea, wind and rain have forged its character that is second to none. Two copper stills for a traditional double distillation, an ageing cellar enabling different types of casks to thoroughly mature the products and a cellar master passionate about obtaining the right aromatic balance are all elements that make Armorik Whiskies great.
Located in Lannion, Brittany, the distillery Warenghem has been making high quality liqueurs and spirits for over 100 years. In 1900, Leon Warenghem created his first product, the Elixir d’Armorique, a distillate of 35 plants, which won awards at international exhibitions in 1902. Since then, from one generation to the next, the distillery has created a small range of unusual fruit and plant based liqueurs, honey liqueurs, apple brandy, beers and whiskies. 25 years ago, Warenghem was the first and only distillery to ever produce double distilled whisky in France and today it remains the most renowned.
Inheriting a century-old craftsmanship, the character of the Warenghem distillery is forged by the expertise and passion of the men and women who have transmitted their know-how from year to year. Alcohol and spirit production is thus raised to an art form.
1900: Léon Warenghem creates
Warenghem, an unusual name for Bretons! Warenghem is the name of the family that came from the Nord Pas de Calais area to the pink granite coast and Lannion in 1900.
In the late 19th century, the Warenghem family, originating in Northern France, set up their activity on the banks of the Léguer at Lannion, in the heart of the Trégor area and the pink granite coast. The patriarch Léon created the distillery and its first product, élixir d’Armorique whose fame rapidly spread beyond the boundaries of Brittany. The distillery first specialised in the production of fruit and plant liqueurs and creams. Over the years, it built up a reputation of high quality in the spirits sector while perpetuating the Breton tradition and know-how.
From 1901, Elixir d'Armorique, a skilful blend of 35 plants, is crowned with success, obtaining many distinctions in 1901 and 1902 at the international trade fairs of Brest then Bordeaux before going on to international renown, particularly in America. It is still being marketed one century later, and, in the tradition of major plant liqueurs, its taste still pleases.
The Distillery is a family business. Léon's son, Henri, took over in 1919. He continued the work and diversified the activity by starting to produce liqueurs. Mint, blackcurrant or even kirsch become part of the product range. The Distillery makes a name for itself through a network of wholesalers and wine traders in western France. The local craftsman gradually become a regional liqueur distillery.
From Warenghem to Leizour
Yves Leizour takes over the distillery and, in 1967, associates with Paul-Henri, the third generation of the Warenghems. Constantly seeking to improve their products and to benefit form the rich Breton soil, they decided to move the Distillery from the town centre to the outskirts of Lannion: to the site of the Rest Avel spring (the Wind's Dwelling) which provided them with pure, crystal clear water. The region is famous for its Plougastel strawberry? It would be perfect for liqueurs. The market gradually directs its focus to supermarkets.
The Distillery remains a family business. In 1983, it was Gilles, the son of Yves and a trained pharmacist, who continued the quest for innovation. In 1984, he created the Melmor chouchen, which is the chouchen most people drink in France today.
Creation of Breton Whisky
But the inspired idea that revolutionised the Warenghem Distillery is the creation of the first Breton and French whisky. Encouraged by Bernard Le Pallec, sales director, Gilles Leizour ensconced himself in the laboratory, creating a blend in 1987: the WB.
The first Breton single malt whisky followed in 1998, the Armorik. Brittany shares a Celtic culture, climate and land with its Irish and Scottish cousins. Supported by a coastal, rainy, stormy climate, the Breton character finds its full expression in the whiskies carefully developed by Gilles Leizour.
The daring gamble of breton whisky has paid off, Warenghem Distillery is a market leader in French whisky.
Breton land and spirits
The Distillery is just as attached to its local heritage as it is to researching innovation to satisfy the most demanding of spirits connoisseurs. As the apple is a typical fruit of Brittany, Fine Bretagne AOC was developed in the 90's, then Pommeau de Bretagne AOC.
Ten years later, the Distillery offered the Diwall beer that revived the brewing tradition of the town of Lannion.
2010: the distillery begins to export
2009-2010 is a watershed in the distillery's development. Until then strongly focused on supermarkets, the distillery decides to develop its product ranges and win over connoisseurs from the four corners of the world.
The distillery's products, chiefly Whisky Breton Armorik and Fine Bretagne Gilles Leizour, are now distributed throughout most of Europe, but also in the United States, Canada, Japan and as far as Australia.
A Team of Passionate Professionals
The team of the Distillery now has 16 employees fully devoted to producing high quality Breton spirits.