The Warenghem Distillery is fortunate to be located on a spring: the asset known as Rest Avel (the wind's dwelling). By drilling deeper than 100 metres deep, we draw pure and crystal clear water, very low in limestone, that has been filtered for years by the granite of the Breton coast.
We use two types of cereals:
- Malted barley for Armorik single malts, made in France.
- Wheat for blended whiskies, Brittany origin.
The barley that we use must be malted before being delivered to the distillery. This was done by the distilleries themselves in the past but the activity is now entrusted to barley producers and malting plants.
This involves getting the barley to germinate by moistening it, then letting it germinate before drying the barley. This primordial step prepares the seeds for brewing. During germination, the barley seed indeed produces enzymes that will transform the starch into sugar during brewing.
We then grind the malt in a mill to obtain a rough flour called grist. The grinding must be very specific to enable the best possible brewing; too much flour and lumps will form; too much husk and the sugar will not be properly extracted.
The grist is mixed with water during the brewing. The water and grist must be mixed at a temperature of about 63°C. This temperature indeed allows the optimum transformation of starch into sugar under the action of the malt enzymes.
We then collect the wort (sugary liquid resulting from the brewing of water/cereals). The mash kettle has a perforated base that lets the wort flow while retaining the solid residues that are given to farmers for feeding cattle.
We transfer the wort to fermentation tanks called "washbacks". We add yeast, developed specifically for the needs of the whisky, to initiate fermentation.
Fermentation periods last between 3 and 4 days at the distillery. The action of yeasts transforms the sugar into alcohol and heat while developing a range of flavours that make up the character of the future whisky. The liquid obtained, the wash, titrated at 8 to 10% Vol.
We use Scottish copper stills, or pot stills, specially designed to develop the specific flavours of Armorik. The wash is heated in a first still (the wash still) to be distilled for the first time.
The alcohol rises in vapours, with the cooler alcohol being condensed again in the head before being vaporised again, this is the rectification process. The vapours then move through the condensers to become liquid again.
The second distillation is carried out the next day in a smaller still (spirit still). From this distillation, we only keep the middle cut where the distillate has the richest and purest aromas. The heads, first fractions of the distillation, and the tails, end of distillation fractions, are separated to be distilled again subsequently.
This double distillation process enables us to concentrate the alcohol and aromas to obtain a titrated liquid of more than 70% Vol.
After a first reduction in water, the distillate is brought to 63% alcohol to be placed in oak casks for ageing. We use different types of casks:
- old bourbon casks (whisky produced in the United States) that add mildness while respecting the fruity character of our distillate;
- old sherry casks (or sherry oloroso, produced in Spain) that provide warm fruit and spice notes;
- Brittany oak casks: thanks to a 10 year partnership with ONF and the last cooper in Brittany, Jean Baptiste Le Floc'h at Douarnenez, we have obtained oak casks made from the trees of the Cranou and Brocéliande forests. These casks bring their natural sweetness and delicate woody notes.
Gaseous exchanges are produced with the oak throughout the ageing process. Hence, each climate, each region, lends its typical character to the whisky. In Brittany, temperatures are more clement than in Scotland and favour more rapid ageing. Around 3.5% of the cask evaporates every year. This percentage is call the "Angels' share "
Our Cellar Master then selects the casks ready to be bottled. The assembly stage then begins. Different casks, each with their own different aromas, must then be blended to achieve the most balanced whisky possible. After a final dilution in water, the whisky is ready to be bottled.