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Armorik is a single malt whisky from the Distillerie Warenghem in France. When Léon Warenghem moved from the Nord Pas de Calais to Lannion in Brittany in July 1900, he set up a distillery in which he could produce liqueurs. His first product, the Elixir d’Armorique, found such enormous success that it is still being produced today, almost 120 years later.
Upon the founder’s passing, the distillery was inherited by his son Henry in 1919 and would remain in the family until the late 1960’s when Yves Leizour joined as a partner with Paul-Henri, the last surviving Warenghem. With the renewed vigour a change in ownership can often bring, the distillery was transferred from the centre of downtown Lannion, where expansion had become impossible, to a new location on the outskirts of town. Here, at a place known as Avel Rest (home of the wind), they found an excellent water supply with which to continue producing their ever-popular elixir of Brittany.
In the 1980’s the company found itself under the control of Gilles Leizour, a pharmacist with a keen interest in innovation and a determination to explore every avenue in order to find new, exciting projects for a distillery that had by then, fallen on hard times. This sense of experimentation eventually led in 1987 to the creation of a blended whisky and within a decade they were ready to bottle their first single malt.
Dubbed Armorik, their whisky is produced from both peated and unpeated barley, distilled twice in traditional copper pot stills and matured for a number of years on location in Brittany, a rugged landscape with a maritime climate not dissimilar to the traditional whisky-producing countries of Scotland and Ireland.
The Armorik Originale was aged in refill bourbon casks for an unspecified number of years. Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume it retailed for around €20.
Smell: Rather limted nose at first but opens given time. Vanilla and honey. Eucalyptus and pine. Lemon. Crisp apples and green olives. Shortbread.
Taste: Despite arriving in a flourish it fails to develop much in the way of complexity as the experience rolls on. A youthful freshness. Lots of cereal notes and young wood. Fresh lemon again and buttery, crumbly shortbread. Touch of caramel and some gentle spice. Decent weight for 40%.
Value for Money: Decent given the low price it originally retailed but where it succeeds the most is in showing the potential in the spirit. This one isn’t quite there yet, but the whisky could be excellent when a little older.
A bit simple and lacking any real complexity but what flavour there is, is full and satisfying enough. A victim of its youth without a doubt but that suggests it could be much better with a few more years in the cask. I’ve tasted Armorik at festivals and whatnot, but such events aren’t the best place to properly analyse the quality of a dram so this is the first time I’ve sat down to give it my full attention and I can certainly see some promising signs. I’m not sure I’d recommend you rush out and snap one up (if any are still around) but certainly some of their more mature editions could be interesting purchases. Worth noting that their “Classic” bottling is 46% and usually retails for less than £40. I suspect I may be tempted to pick one of those up before too long.
The Édition Originale doesn’t seem to be around anymore but a small selection of Armorik malts are available at Master of Malt should you be interested in buying one. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission should you purchase anything after following a link from my page. Several other excellent retailers are also available.
Big thanks to blog reader Gareth Holmes for the sample.
For more information on Armorik or Warenghem Distillery click here.