For this tasting it is in the direction of Armorique that I leave aboard my faithful BRAD PEAT.
The road leads me to the west of Brittany towards the Monts d'Arrée.
I have an appointment with a mysterious ERWAN G. (for anonymity) in the town of Commana. I find my host near the presbytery of the village at the foot of the Calvary.
I face a bearded man accompanied by a black dog named PPM. He is said to be half Druid and half traveling salesman. He proposes magical concoctions that would allow to find love again, to heal lost souls, to heal sick animals and even to allow business leaders to regain success. He is said to love whisky (especially when he is Breton). And this is what will interest us today since he plans to let us taste the first peated whisky from the Distillery of Lannion WARENGHEM: the JOBIC of the new brand of the house YEUN ELEZ.
Erwan tells me that the tasting is not held in the village but in the Monts d'Arrée park. An early evening stroll in the countryside at the time when the sun starts to set, when the Breton mists rise and certainly come to wake up the spirits??! Not very encouraging, let's hope the new whisky is good!
So we both go back on board BRAD PEAT with PPM for a little quarter of an hour drive.
The path takes us through the heather in the hills near the village. The journey gives my host the opportunity to tell me the history of the place: according to the legend it is towards where we are going that once upon a time people came to cast into hell the evil souls that haunted the living. An exorcist priest was then brought in to metamorphose the returnee into a black dog. A priest would then accompany the person and the dog to the heart of the Yeun Ellez at nightfall. The priest then had to push the black dog into the swamp of the Gates of Hell so that the spell could be lifted!
So, listening to this story, I was happy to know the person I was with (even if he was also accompanied by a black dog) and that it was only a legend.
I was all the more reassured when he told me that this legend was the theme chosen by the WARENGHEM distillery for the bottle and the packaging of its new production (phew! even if I still had some shivers).
Indeed, if one looks at the bottle and the box he is accompanying or can discover a dog's head and the sketches of the story.
It is now too late for me to taste this new production which allows WARENGHEM to put a first foot on the peaty ground. Erwan tells me that faithful to its productions (rather sherry or bourbon in double or single maturation), the distillery has chosen not to call its whisky ARMORIK as it usually does, but to create a new brand: YEUN ELEZ (which was none other than the Breton name of the peat bogs where my host was leading me).
With the JOBIC the distillery thus enters with a 50 ppm (for the moment) into the world of peated whiskies. It has produced this distillate with a Scottish peat moss (which I will say is close to the one used by CAOL ILA but I will come back to it at the tasting).
We finally arrived at the edge of the peat bog known as the gates of hell and Erwan tells me that this will be the place for our tasting. On the other hand, he tells me to be careful not to set foot there because like any good peat bog, my shoe might not come out. Moreover, I should avoid waking up the spirits that had been thrown there by the priest. It was a legend but in doubt ! Even PPM Erwan's dog seemed to stick a little far (it must be said that dogs did not completely have the best role in the legend).
It is thus in the middle of a foggy and rather fresh atmosphere (but not rainy because there also the rain of Brittany is only of the order of the legend), that we are going to taste this whisky.
So Erwan poured a very clear golden yellow liquid in my glass (a real peated whisky without artifice like a good LEDAIG).
When you are about to plunge your nose into the glass, you can distinguish rather medical and fresh aromas. This freshness is confirmed by plunging the nose into the glass. Aromas of dewy heather and a beautiful pear scent blend together. By plunging the glass a second time, the aromas warm up slightly under the effect of the pear's ripening to which a banana smell is added. Moreover at this moment a touch of pepper is added to tickle the lashes of the nose. But the peat? Well it makes its arrival at the third passage shyly and discreetly. It is rather soft but not omnipresent but it comes to perfect the impression of heating of the liquid.
As often a drop in your hand will confirm its presence.
Erwan tells me " Yec'hed mat " in his Breton language and makes his glass clink against mine. I think you will have to taste it.
As much as the first aromas were fresh in the nose, the liquid that enters the mouth is thick and worthy of a beautiful peated whisky.
It begins its journey in the mouth with baskets of citrus fruits bringing a hint of bitterness on the palate. The freshness announced by the nose is iodized. It is accompanied by peppery notes. The attack thus shows its presence well. By keeping it in the mouth it will round off and soften with here and there some clod of étoupes which come to remember us. The peat of this whisky is not aggressive and brings a rather pleasant grassy freshness.
Once swallowed it leaves lemony notes and a hint of iodine in the mouth.
This first peaty experience from WARENGHEM keeps its promise and allows you to taste a French whisky that has nothing to envy to a small CAOL ILA. It even heralds the future arrival of a big brother a little more marked in peat.
It's just as we finish our glasses that PPM gets agitated and starts moaning. Has he felt something on the side of the gates of hell? It's going to be time to go back down to Commana or I have to take Erwan back to Brittany so that he can go back on the roads of Brittany to help some companies that would have suffered from the horrors of the confinement.