Off to La Belle France this week. For whisky? Yes - in the shape of Brenne French Single Malt Whisky. I had the good fortune late last year to interview Allison Patel, the brains behind Brenne and its US presence.
Allison had heard of this farm distiller but didn’t actually make contact with him till after her return from her travels in Europe. During correspondence and visits over three years or so, she came up with thoughts on how to refine the whisky, continue producing more casks and market it. Allison’s main contribution, apart from the business aspect, has been to improve the cask management side for maturation.
Its nose and flavor profile is:
Appearance: Rich, gleaming gold
Nose: Bananas! This is what struck me first and it lingers on and on. There are also other tropical fruits, spices, coconut, apricots, floral and brandy notes and more.
Palate: Slightly creamy and unctuous on the mouthfeel. Flavors run from floral (maybe a wisp of geranium) to brandy notes with fruits and sweet spices like cinnamon and soft toffee caramels. There’s a touch of coconut in there too.
Finish: Not too long, warming and with some residual sweetness.
All the barley used is locally grown and organic. The still is the traditional Charentes (or alembic) still commonly used in that area. It’s quite unlike the Scotch Whisky stills. As Allison told me, “If you can imagine a pot still as looking like a giant onion, an alembic still will look as though it has a second “onion” sitting on top of the first one.”
The casks used are those which have held cognac and new French oak. The latter should add vanilla and some spicy notes. The former add fruit and, since I’ve been drinking lovely Cognac Napoleon in recent months, that’s no bad thing.
So, maybe give a loved one a romantic treat with a whisky all the way from France, the country of amour and fine food and drink. It’ll soon be Valentine’s Day.