Brenne French Single Malt – Producer: Brenne. ABV: 40%. No age statement (estimated 6-8 years). Price: $55-60.
Brenne 10 French Single Malt – Producer: Brenne. ABV: 48%. Age: 10 years. Price: $80-90.
The Brenne French Single Malt is the passion project of NY-based Francophile and former ballerina Allison Patel. It’s a light, fruity, approachable, cognac-finished malt that’s brought many non-single malt drinkers into the category. It’s not for everyone–some detect a bubblegum note that for them is a dealbreaker–but it has lots of fans, and you’ve got to admire Allison’s drive and success thus far.
The whisky is distilled by a cognac maker from all local organic barley, aged in French limousin oak barrels, then finished in fresh cognac barrels. The first time I had the standard release at a tasting it was floral, with perfumed malt and stewed apple on the nose. It had a round and not overly sweet palate with the cognac profile bringing some of the tropical overtones of the Balvenie Carribean Cask. The body was quite light with some Stranahan’s-ish banana on the finish. Quite enjoyed it.
The following night I had a pour from another bottle, and all the notes I’d enjoyed were overwhelmed by liquid bubblegum. With time in the glass it only got stronger. Strange! The Whiskey Jug suspects it’s the limousin oak, though either way, the bottle-to-bottle variation suggests there may be a batch consistency issue.
If you’re already a Brenne fan, or want to try the brand at its best, the new (as of January 2016) 10-year-old bottling is the way to go. The extra age and higher proof – 48% rather than the 40% – bring more depth, texture, oak, and tropical fruit, especially pineapple.
Brenne’s in 30 states so far, and with Allison making converts everywhere she goes, I’m sure it’ll be in more soon. Cheers, friends! -BO