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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kornog T'aourac Trived peated French malt

And by "French" I mean Bretagne. And by "Kornog" I mean peated Glann Ar Mor. And by "T'aourac Trived", I have no idea.

Let me clarify further. Kornog is the peated single malt produced at Glann Ar Mor distillery in Brittany, a corner of France with considerable Celtic history. Glann Ar Mor approached its production from an old school angle, with direct-fired alembic stills and bottling right on site. Kornog's malt was peated up to 35ppm, and though this specific bottling was matured in bourbon barrels there are some releases that spent time in oloroso or PX casks.

You may notice the past tense verbs in the previous sentence. Apparently the distillery closed in 2015 due to Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) instituted by France. I don't 100% understand the reasoning behind this, so if anyone cares to weigh in on this please do so in the comment section below. In any case, it's a shame, because this is good whisky.

Distillery: Glann Ar Mor
Brand: Kornog
Region: Brittany, France
Age: ???
Maturation: ex-bourbon barrels
Peat level: 35ppm
Bottling year: probably 2010 (BC 2010 batch)
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? No
(sample purchased from The Whisky Exchange)

Its color is white burgundy (that description is there to piss off the French). The nose is lovely. Peated peaches and melons. Subtle medicinal and almond extract notes. Simple syrup. Floral peat. Bright and candied. The palate is full of stone fruits + honey + sweet peat. Fried plantains. Grapefruit. A Campari bitterness. A light refreshing peated whisky? It finishes with more honey and mellow peat. Pear nectar and fried plantains. A little bit of coffee. Lots of Campari. Very aromatic.

What a sweet gentle surprise. I didn't add water because it was so cuddly right at 46%. Yes, a cuddly 35ppm peated whisky. The combination of fruit, florals and honey is unlike any Scotch single malts I've had, peated or unpeated. From what I've gathered, this stuff is pretty young too, which makes it even more impressive. If the distillery really has closed permanently, it's a real loss for the whisky community, and France.

Availability - Happy hunting
Pricing - ???
Rating - 88


  1. If I'm reading that article correctly, current regulations state that "Breton Whisky" or Whisky Breton can only be made from malted barley. So the malted rye whisky made at Glann Ar Mor cannot be called a Breton Whisky under the current rules. Since Scotch whisky has multiple types, I wonder why the French are so rigid about their labeling rules?

    The SB article also states the distillery had other issues that led to the closure so this whole labeling dispute might be just the tip of a bigger mountain of problems.

  2. Hi Michael,

    Glann Ar Mor is still alive and kicking, it seems like some amendment to the legislation allowed them to continue to operate. They did have two main issues with the PGI because it favored the use of Cognac style stills (which many French producers use) whereas , Glan Ar Mor uses Scottish style direct fired spot stills and worm tubs. It would also only consider “Breton whisky” as made strictly with malted barley, which would hamper their plans to market a malted rye whisky which they have been working on for some time.

    It was a blow to them because they helped push for this type of legislation, their identity relying heavily on the regionalism of their product only to find themselves excluded from it in the end.

    It is the state of their Islay distillery project (Gartbreck) that is more cause for concern, they have had so many setbacks now that it seems like it might never come to fruition.

    Kornog frequently gets top praise, I would love to see them get more exposure.

    1. This is considerable. Did my Google skills crap the bed? Do you have links to this info? They seem to have had all of 1 release in 2017.

      I've been following the Gartbreck situation and have been hoping to see some good news.

  3. I don't think your skills crapped the bed there just isn't a lot in the way of press on this distillery. I am basing this on the following sources.

    There is an SB article from August 2015 that confirms they we're to stay open

    Also there was a caption under a sunset photo on the Gartbreck Facebook page, where Jean Donnay says the stills have just stopped for the day at Glann ar mor.

    Lastly there was recently a private group order for some Kornog at our state retailer that I missed out on...really sad about missing that as it seems they never order any for retail sale.

  4. From my understanding, the IGP indication didn't force the distillery to close, it simply meant that they couldn't label the whisky as "Breton Whisky." One of the other Breton distilleries, Warenghem, which produces the Armorik line as "Breton whiskies," also put out a whisky called "Roof Rye," a rye whisky they sold in France as "French Whisky."

    Since there are over 40 distilleries making whisky in France as of Whisky de France's last Facebook map (run by Philippe Juge, a noted name in French whisky), I can't see how a Breton IGP should cause the distillery to close completely.