Whisky Review: Alfred Giraud Voyage

, | March 3, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Alfred Giraud Distillery. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Opportunities to go on a voyage have been a little thin on the ground these past few years. But with Voyage whisky from Alfred Giraud, one can still discover a little bit of France. This newer label produces only malt whisky, and has been declared a luxury brand.

The heritage of their whisky lies in that most iconic French spirit: Cognac. The Giraud family has been in the Cognac business for over a century, and has more recently added whisky to their repertoire. They focus on the craft from the raw ingredients to the final blend. They use almost exclusively French products for distillation, personally overseeing much of their cultivation. Their distillate comes from barley they personally malt at their facility. Single malt whiskies from across France are also sourced for blending; however, Giraud brings these in un-aged and takes over the process from there. 

The Voyage expression is the first (and currently only) release of what Giraud calls the Exploratory Blends – whiskies that use unique casks for aging and finishing. Voyage specifically uses Sauternes and virgin French Robinia casks for a dual maturation, then is married and aged again in Cognac casks. Sauternes, the famous French sweet wine, pops into whisky aging from time to time but quite rarely (personally I am quite partial to Arran’s Sauternes cask finish). French Robinia, on the other hand, is a French wood that has never before been used to age whisky.

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The whisky producer describes this whisky as “daring, yet balanced.” They absolutely hit the nail on the head with daring. This whisky is extremely bold, producing strong aromas and flavors right from the start. Virgin wood is not often used with malt whisky due to its tendency to overwhelm the distillate. Giraud uses it here with the intent of adding a tannic element to the whisky. I absolutely got this with the dryness at the finish. The balance in the descriptor comes from the sweetness provided by the wine and Cognac casks.

Besides Voyage, Giraud has two other expressions in a line of “Signature Blends,” which utilize “exceptional casks that have aged extra old Cognac.”  The cask quality is a part of the reason the distillery releases all of their expressions in small batches – cask availability. It’ll be interesting to see what they bring forth next, and the ultimate impact on French whisky as an industry.

Alfred Giraud Voyage review

Alfred Giraud Voyage (image via Alfred Giraud Whisky)

Tasting Notes: Alfred Giraud Voyage

Vital Stats: 96 proof/48% ABV, 100% malted barley. Aged in Sauternes cask and French Robinia casks, finished in Cognac casks. Non chill-filtered. Five cask limited release. 750ml, $180. Cognac, France.

Appearance: Bright gold, fairly clear. Legs come in clusters, and are evenly spread within. 

Nose: Bright red berry pops up immediately, particularly currant. Next up comes dried apple, which gives way to the strong perfume of quince. It finishes with stewed pear.

Palate: It’s quite thin in texture. The pear from the nose leads the way in the palate, and is followed by hints of banana. The flavor and profile of brandy is present throughout the whole experience and sets the foundation for the whole flavor. The finish is extremely dry with a touch of bitterness.

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The Takeaway
4

Summary

I’ve only had one French whisky before, and it truly was nothing like this. I was most taken by the absolute boldness of the whisky. That boldness carries through the sip very evenly. Two drops of water softened the spirit quite a bit, which I think would be preferable if one was sitting and sipping this. For the price point I would have liked it to come across as slightly more refined. Still, this is one of the more unique whiskies I’ve had in a long time.

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Talia Gragg

Talia is part of the Portland service industry community, and an alumna of the Multnomah Whiskey Library. She’s an avid spirit and cocktail enthusiast, and likes to experience them both academically and recreationally. When not sipping whiskey she’s a ceramic artist and lover of travel.