During the Norman invasion of England, there was a cultural sharing that persists to today. And also a lot of war, killing, and generally horrible things.
Let’s keep this positive though. Due to the help of various Brittany lords with William the Conquerer’s invasion, they were given large tracts of lands in England. Thus part of whisky culture that ties into aspects of that invasion, which not only impacted England but also had an effect on Scotland and Ireland, places where tasty whisky is made.
Thus when Warenghem distillerie, with their 83 years of experience in distilling, decided to explore that cultural bridge by making whisky. Or rather they just wanted to make whisky. So in 1983, they decided to make a whisky, releasing one, after a trip to Scotland, in 1987.
It was a blend and this review is not about it. Rather it’s about an idea they had later. In 2008, Warenhghem released a single malt, and in September 2009, released their whole new range. They’ve since gained many awards.
For myself, I’ve only been able to try one whisky offering from Armorik. Frankly, I knew nothing of the distillery when I bought my original bottle of Armorik Classic, assuming it was a new distillery. I enjoyed the Classic and then saw nothing else at my provincial alcohol monopoly.
Since then I’ve done some digging, and noticed that there’re more and more offerings. Thus being able to try these limited offerings is quite exciting. Let’s see how they taste, shall we?
Armorik Maître de Chai 2008 is a vintage, limited release. Based on their own write-up, this is one of the first limited releases, though I can’t find anything to definitively state that, so let’s just say it’s one of the first.
I’ll be blunt: I originally grabbed a sample simply because I enjoy Chai tea. Turns out they didn’t mean that at all. Maître de Chai translated to ‘Cellar Master’. I really shouldn’t have let my French speaking skills slip that much.
Still, it’s an interesting whisky. This is made up of two whiskies, each aged between six and seven years, both fully matured in Oloroso sherry casks, and both picked by the cellar master for their taste.
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Distillation Date: 2008
Bottling Date: 2015
Ages of whiskies used: Between 6 and 7 years
Cask Numbers: 3322 & 3325
Cask Types: Oloroso Sherry Casks
Total Outrun: 1,700 bottles
Colour: 10YR 6/10
Nose: Cardamon, black tea, peach, honey, orange blossom
Okay, here’s where I’m confused. There’s tannic, spice elements of black tea that reminds me of Chai. Yet the Chai name isn’t what was made.
I think, to be fair, we can say there are some spice and orange elements. And that the name had some element on my initial notes maybe. These things can happen. That said, there are quite a bit of orange and tannic aspects here.
Taste: Peach syrup, smoke, black tea, cassia buds
More spice, more tannin, more peach. My initial concerns about the name screwing me around are heightened here, so after tasting this, I actually looked up and felt bad about my French skills.
That said, there’s more of the smoke going on here. Going back, I still get black tea, peach. Less orange though.
Finish: Ginger, rosemary, cassia buds, apple, smoke
Finish is a spice bomb. Tons and tons of spice, with just a bit of apple to pair alongside it.
Conclusion: Impressive given the age. Remember this is younger, not hyper-aged, and not made with a yeast that’s designed to be good at a young age. This is purely a blend of two whiskies, aged in casks in the same way others have done. And frankly, I enjoyed it.
I feel like this is a nice limited edition. It’s not going to blow your mind. However it is unique, it is tasty, and it is spice forward. The name may have hurt my notes, and I wish it hadn’t. However, that’s life. I stand by the general idea that this has lots of spice and fruit. And if that sounds up your alley, then grab a sample of this.
Armorik 13 2002 (cask 3260) is, from what I can find, one of the older releases from Armorik. A lot of Armorik standard releases are NAS. There have been a few single cask releases from the distillery. This one is completely matured in an Oloroso sherry cask.
Let’s see how one cask tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Distillation Date: 15 Feb 2002
Bottling Date: 01 July 2015
Cask Type: Oloroso Sherry Cask
Outrun: 739 bottles
Colour: 10YR 6/10
Nose: Violets, plum, strawberry, caramel, BBQ sauce
Floral. Closer to a cask strength Lowland, though stronger since this isn’t triple distilled. It takes a while and some water, though this lovely smoke, molasses, and sweet/acidic note pop up.
Because if I’m sniffing flowers, I also want to eat BBQ. Granted BBQ goes with just about any fun activity, if I’m being honest. Pretty sure I should add that a BBQ has to happen at my funeral for all my detractors out there.
Taste: Plum sauce/jam, strawberry, caramel, smoke
Initial strong, concentrated plum notes. Really beats you over the head, more like a port cask than a sherry cask.
It takes some water to bring out more caramel and smoke. Sadly the biggest aspect is plum.
Finish: Ginger, cardamon, apple pie, burnt sugar, smoke
Big spice finish again. This time it doesn’t outshine the apple, has more char/caramel to it, and the smoke stays longer.
I like it. Granted I love apple pie and don’t have it as much as I used to. Nice length to it.
Conclusion: A really, really nice dram. Starts out bold, gets a tad weak on the taste, with only one note being strong, and the finish makes up for it all with an apple pie. Where the dual casked Chai before was a spice bomb, this is what more time has given us. Better fruit paired with it to make a better dram.
I think I may keep hunting for these.
World Whisky review #318-319, France review #9-10, Whisky Network review #1448-1449