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The Whisky with Cognac Terroir

Allison Patel

The founder of one of France’s only single malt Whiskies recently revealed her view that the spirit is affected by terroir just as much as any other on the market.

Speaking in an interview with the Break Thru Beverage group, Allison Parc said that: “We use ingredients that are local and indigenous to effectively show terroir in single malts, and thus, broaden a number of flavors that are available in the spectrum of the single malt category.”

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“I didn’t set out to create a floral, fruit-forward, uber-estery single malt Whiskey. I went in wanting to use ingredients that were local to this one region – Cognac, France – and see if that happens to have an impact on the final flavor. It turns out that the resulting Whiskey has this super juicy, fruity, floral, almost banana foster flavor profile that is unlike anything else anywhere in the world.”

I think it actually slaps you in the face.

When asked whether she thought that her Whiskey captured the local terroir, Parc replied: “Yes, absolutely. I really think you get an essence of the Cognac region in France. I think it actually slaps you in the face.”

The view that Whiskey’s flavor profile can be so strongly swayed by the terroir of the production region is sure to raise some eyebrows in the industry, although it must be said that Parc’s statements are interesting.

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According to Break Thru: “Every ingredient in Brenne is sourced locally. The organic heirloom barley is grown on the farm that the distillery resides on. The water is from the town’s supply and the yeast is a strain that has been in the distiller’s family from the very beginning.”

“That distillery itself is actually a Cognac distillery making eau de vie and XO Cognac for one of the largest Cognac houses in the world, and now, distilling a French single malt Whiskey that is finished in those same XO Cognac barrels. Every molecule in every drop of Brenne can be traced back to Cognac.”

After falling in love with Japanese single malts, Parc told Break Thru that she became curious as to why those Whiskies from the far-east tasted so different to her. Inspired to craft her own expression outside of the traditional Scottish Highland region, she looked to France and the Cognac region for inspiration.

The result is Brenne, a tropical, intensely flavorsome Whiskey that is entirely unique. Indeed, Parc is well aware that the product’s originality means that it may well not be for everyone’s palate.

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“I wanted to lead, not follow. I wanted to create and bring something into this industry that doesn’t exist. I didn’t want to simply create another of the same Whiskey but with a different label, I really want to create something that people would either really love or hate,” said Parc in the Break Thru interview.

“You can either love Brenne or hate Brenne and that is the best compliment. If you’re just wishy-washy about it, then I don’t feel I did what I set out to do.”

Following a career as a professional ballerina, Allison Parc began to travel the world, developing an appreciation of food, drink and great taste experiences in general.

Allison soon realized that her favorite tastes came from Whiskey, having sampled many varieties of the spirit across the globe. However, upon returning to the US, she was disappointed to find that the experimental types that she had so enjoyed across the world were incredibly difficult to find, or quite simply impossible.

According to Brenne: “Allison took it into own her hands and started setting up an import/ export company for this sole purpose.”

“While exploring the world Whiskey scene for something that was focused on “terroir” (being ‘of the earth’), Allison encountered a third generation Cognac producer who had started distilling a unique Single Malt at his farm distillery in the heart of Cognac, France.”

At that time, a majority of the oldest Whiskey was around three to four years old in new French Limousin oak barrels. Upon tasting it, Allison immediately knew it was something special.

Today, that Whiskey is Brenne, which is available in both the Estate Cask and Brenne Ten expressions.

They are priced at $70 and $100 respectively and are now available at specialist liquor stores across the country and online.

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