Some months ago, I was quite surprised to learn that France hosted a fair number of whisky distilleries that produced their own single malts. Interestingly, many follow similar approaches to Scotch whisky yet incorporate elements of French winemaking to reflect their cultural identity.
However, I wasn’t remotely prepared for Glann Ar Mor! Given to me by my beloved wife – who knows me all too well – for my birthday, I was utterly besotted by the Breton distillery’s Kornog Sauternes Cask expression.
In this review, you will discover this Glann Ar Mor’s Kornog Sauternes Cask Single Malt whisky with me as we explore the following topics:
Overview Of Kornog Single Malt Whisky
- Distillery: Glann Ar Mor
- Expression: Kornog
- Region: Britanny, France
- Age: NAS
- Casking: Ex-Bourbon
- Finish: Sauternes Cask
- Cask Strength: 46% ABV
- Chill-Filtered: No
- Pricing: 120€ / 70 cl
Meaning “By the Seaside” in Breton, Glann Ar Mor is set on the Tregor region’s northern “Wild Peninsula” coast in the Côtes d’Armor department. On a clear day, you can see Guernsey and Jersey just across the bay. An artisanal operation, their two copper pot stills are direct heated by a live flame with worm tub condensers while they continue to use Oregan Pine washbacks. Meanwhile, their seaside warehouse provides an authentic ageing process.
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Glann Ar Mor’s Robe
- Hue: Aged Madeira
- Transparency: Unctuous
- Body: Full-Bodied
Featuring a dark amber hue, it’s impressive to learn that Glann Ar Mor don’t add any colouring to their expressions. The clarity is transparent with a slightly hazy finish yet I can just make out my fingerprint across my Peugeot Les Impitoyables glass.
Meanwhile, a quick swirl revealed somewhat narrow yet slow and oily whisky legs down the side of the glass. Glann Ar Mor heavily advertise their whisky isn’t chill filtered. Nevertheless, I added a touch of water to enjoy watching the whisky react like an oyster exposed to a drop of lemon juice.
- Notes: Brine, Peat, Fudge, Honey
- Nosefeel: Mentholated
Opening with a mentholated sea breeze of brine, Kornog’s nose is heavily influenced by its coastal location. Persisted nosing revealed notes of peat as well as buttery caramel fudge with a faint honey finish.
Kornog Sauternes Cask’s Palate & Mouthfeel
- Primary Tastes: Salty
- Mouthfeel: Peppery, Drying
- Opening: Black Pepper, Creosote, Williams Pear
- Heart: Aniseed, Iodine, Seaweed
- Finish: Long [Cordite, Candlewax, Liquorice]
Kornog’s sea breeze nose persists well throughout the palate. Its overall profil it salty with a peppery mouthfeel with an astringent drying property.
Its rich opening begins with overt black pepper that tingles the nostrils, which soon gives rise to heavily tarred creosote that evokes an old train track. A hint of Williams pear adds an element of fruitiness before transitioning to a spicy heart of aniseed with thick iodine.
Aromas of seaweed make a strong return before the long, drawn out finish of spent firework cordite, thick candlewax and a lingering note of liquorice.
Best Pairings With Glann Ar Mor Kornog
While this Kornog expression accords well with bold and brash flavours, I thoroughly enjoyed playing with the juxtaposition of salty and sweet notes.
With regards to savoury choices, I found that the Kornog works surprisingly well with fresh oysters as both extended each other’s saltiness. Meanwhile, the lightness of the oysters provided a sharp contrast to the Kornog’s rounded spiciness.
Similarly, the Kornog paired nicely with raclette, a Savoyard dish consisting of potatoes, cured meats and copious melted cheese. This was particularly pleasant and the warmth provided by both was ideal for a harsh winter evening.
Otherwise, I was equally surprised by how the fudge and honey notes in the nose work were quite harmonious with sweeter dishes.
Given that Glann Ar Mor is a Breton whisky, I thought I’d try it out with Kouign Amann, a local cake, which is essentially caramel and butter in a thick, flaky pastry. In short, Kouign Amann is a heart attack on a plate but a wonderfully decadent indulgence.
Although an unusual pairing like the oysters above, both worked well and seemed quite at home with one another. The resulting marriage of aromas evoked salted caramel and the William pear brought out a fruity Tarte Tatin flavour.
Finally, Kornog is a whisky that is perfect for being enjoyed with a hearty cigar. To this effect, I would gravitate towards a smoke that’s salty and somewhat spicy too. Although a Cohiba Siglo III would have been the perfect choice, I opted for a Studio Tobac Wrath by Oliva instead.
Overall Experience & Value For Money
For an artisanal distillery, Glann Ar Mor delivers this Kornog expression in a very premium packaging. The bottle is short and stout. Meanwhile, the labelling is elegant with a printed etching of the famous Phare des Héaux lighthouse centred over a transparent sticker.
As for the cardboard packaging itself, it features two sides in English while the other two are in French. Given its relatively unknown location, this is shown using a small map and a bullet list breaks down the distillery’s artisanal methods.
With regards to the cork, the stopper’s top is made from false wood. Overall, it seems to offer a good seal without any signs of shrinking.
In terms of occasion, Glann Ar Mor’s Kornog is a special whisky. Therefore, I’ll be reserving it either for special occasions or when I really want to have a sip. Although this is often, I do try to resist temptation! Nevertheless, it’s a great expression to enjoy alone for some quiet time with a cigar.
Finally, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact value for money. While I don’t know how much it was bought for, I have seen it online for between 100 € to 120 €. Personally, I believe that this is a very fair price.
In fact, given that it’s quite a rare whisky as they often run out of stock, I’d snatch another bottle for myself if I ever came across another!
With its rich and intense flavour, Glan Ar Mor’s Kornog expression is a bold representation of Breton identity. While inspired by their Celtic cousins, this is an altogether unique expression that sets itself apart.
While the Sauternes cask captures the essence of French winemaking culture, it decidedly channels the attitude of the Breton identity.
If you’re fond of Scotch whisky in particular and want to discover something new, try to find yourself a bottle of Kornog. You won’t be disappointed.
"Born from fire, raised by the wind. A bold and rich expression with overt smokey notes of tarry peat, Kornog is a testament that the French can do whisky just as well as anyone else."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★
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