France’s Armorik Introduces Heavily Peated Single Malt From The “Gateway To Hell”

By Katelyn Best / October 22, 2020

Just in time for Halloween, French whisky producer Armorik is introducing a line of heavily peated single malts called Yeun Elez, named for a peat bog in Armorique National Park where, according to Breton legend, evil souls who haunted the living were cast into hell.

Armorik, which is distilled at Distillerie Wharenghem in Bretagne (Brittany to anglophones) was an early entry into the burgeoning French whisky scene, making its introduction in 1998, and is one of the few French distillers currently exporting to the United States. You may not immediately think of France when you think about whisky-producing nations, but the French drink more whisky per capita than any other country in the world, and France is a major producer of malted barley. Bretagne itself is a region whose cultural connection with Scotland–both were historically Celtic-speaking regions–makes it a logical choice for a distiller of Scottish-style single malts.

Armorik Yeun Elez

Armorik Yeun Elez (image via Armorik)

It appears that Armorik Yeun Elez is the first entry in what a prepared statement from the brand says will be a line of peated single malts. Yeun Elez, according to legend, is a place where unwary travelers risked being seized by malevolent spirits and dragged into hell. The packaging for this whisky includes the legend of Tadic Coz; according to those behind the whisky:

According to the legend reported by Anatole le Braz, it is the place where the evil souls who haunted the living were thrown into hell. Tadic-Coz, knew the secret and the ritual of locking the souls of ghosts in the body of a black dog. He instructed young Jobic to guide the dog towards the underworld gates. The latter, going from presbytery to presbytery, led the black dog to the rector of Commana. Together, at sunset, they threw the black dog into the Yeun Elez swamp, condemning the ghost to hell.

As for the whisky itself, it’s “a peaty variation of our single malt Armorik” made with Scottish malt using local water and pot stills. It’s 46% ABV, un-chill-filtered, and naturally colored.

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Tasting notes for this expression are below:

  • Pale yellow with golden reflections.
  • Nose: Beautiful aromatic intensity, the peat is medicinal (camphor, cloves) but supported by fruity notes, bananas, cooked peaches, and pastry (cream pastry).
  • Palate: The smoke rounds the palate, citrus notes bringing freshness. Nice roundness with a hint of salinity
  • Final: A lingering, iodized and spicy finish, ending with a warm wood fire.

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