Gwalarn French whisky review and distillery visit

whisky still with distiller

New blended whisky from Brittany

Whisky, a word synonymous with Scotland for most of us. So why am I in France surrounded by barrels of the stuff? Because I am visiting Celtic Whisky Distillery to try their latest expression Gwalarn, which is the first blended whisky from Maison Villevert’s Celtic Whisky Distillery in Northwest France.

gwalarn celtic whisky distillerie

Where is Celtic Whisky Distillery

Celtic Whisky Distillery is based in the Pleubian commune in the Côtes-d’Armor department of Brittany in northwestern France.

A brief history of Celtic Whisky Distillery

Founded in 1997 by Martine and Jean Donnay, it was originally named Celtic Whisky Company. They produced two expressions – malts Glann Ar Mor – ‘beside the sea’ in Breton (unpeated) and Kornog – ‘westerly wind’ in Breton (peated).  They founded the company as they love whisky and wanted to make their own in their homeland.

Maison Villvert purchased the company in 2020, changing the name to Celtic Whisky Distillery. The whisky joined Maison Villevert’s portfolio of brands including G’vine Nouaison gin, June gin liqueur, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal, La Guilde du Cognac and Excellia Tequila.


A look inside the Distillery 

Outside the conditions were very definitely Scotland-like. A bit wet and cold but rugged, green and beautiful, but how about inside?

view from still room

There are two stills heated by an open flame. This is a rarity, I think Glenfarclas are the only other ones still doing this. The intensity of the open flame can cause a Mailliard type reaction which helps to create a range of different flavour compounds.

still view

whisky still with distiller
Master Distiller Aël Guégan

I was then walked through the whisky-making process with what must be the best view ever from a condenser!

view from condenser

view towards distillery

view of distillery site
View from the Distillery building

As is typical with most Scottish whisky, the spirit is aged in ex-Bourbon casks in their warehouse near the Brittany coast. So this was our next stop.

The warehouse

celtic whisky distillery

Inside the warehouse, I was shown their laid down casks of Glann ar Mor and Kornog, including Olorosso and Pedro Ximinez.

celtic whisky distillery

Part of the warehouse site has a shop and a visitor centre. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm. Tastings can be booked online via the Celtic Distillerie website.

celtic whisky distillery shop

The new blended whisky – Gwalarn

Gwalarn (which means the ‘northwest wind’ in Breton) is the first new product in 20 years from Celtic Whisky Distillery.

Gwalarn, is a Celtic blend, in that it contains whiskies from Celtic regions, malt whisky from France and Scotland and rye from Germany which I didn’t know is also an ancient Celtic land.

gwalarn whisky

So what does Gwalarn taste like?

Gwalarn is slightly peated on the nose with sweet vanilla, honey and smoky tobacco notes. The honey note comes through in the tasting alongside some fruity and spiced aromas. It is smooth and easy to drink.

So French whisky, you impressed me. Cheers or should I say ‘yec’hed mat’!


@foodieexplorersVisit to Celtic Whisky Distillerie ##whisky ##frenchwhisky ##breton ##brittany ##france ##drinktiktok ##fyp♬ Je te laisserai des mots – Patrick Watson

Where to buy

Gwalarn can be found at The Whisky Exchange in the UK.

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gwalarn whisky

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I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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