Bonjour l’eau de la vie – hello water of life

The French devour more whisky per head than any other nation. The average consumption by an adult in France is 2.15 litres per year, according to the Euromonitor research agency. France produced it’s first whisky in 1987 at the Warenghem Distillery in Brittany, a north-western region. France now has 33 whisky distilleries with another 30 due to come on stream as soon as their spirits have matured in barrels for the minimum three years required by law for Scotch and Irish whiskey. Sales of French whisky have quadrupled from 215,000 bottles in 2010 to more than 800,000 in 2017. Most of it is for domestic consumption, with less than 10 per cent being exported. The majority of whiskies sold in France are cheap blended varieties imported from Scotland and marketed under brand names such as Label 5, William Lawson or Clan Campbell, which are unknown outside France.

Pernod Ricard owns Chivas Brothers, making it the second largest Scotch whisky producer in the world, with 10 distilleries, including anchor brands Glenlivet and Aberlour. The list includes Glendronach, Glenallachie, Glenburgie, Glentauchers, Miltonduff, Scapa, Strathisla and Tormore. Pernod Ricard also owns Irish Distillers, Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and Irish whiskey brands Powers, Paddy, Redbreast, Middleton and Green Spot. It is also a major producer of blended whisky with Chivas Regal, Ballantines and Canadian Club.

Bacardi became a Scotch whisky player in 1998 when it purchased John Dewar and Sons from Diageo. It now owns five distilleries including Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Macduff and Royal Brackla, and blended malts. Its Dewar’s blended whisky is the best selling brand in the U.S.

Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton owns Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, both delicious top-level whiskies that produce only single malt Scotch (in 2014, Glenmorangie discontinued the delicious Bailie Nichol Jarvie blend because it was getting too popular and the firm wanted to use its’ malt for other products. It also owns Glen Moray who now own Cutty Sark brand. Label 5 only made its’ debut in the top 10 in 2014, with its success being credited to its’ use of social media and the release of its’ premium expression. Popular in France, where it sells the majority of its’ stock, the brand will hope the recent stagnation in sales doesn’t continue. 2017 sales of 9 litre cases: 2.6m 2016: 2.6m Year on Year: -0.4 per cent Place last year: 9.  For example; LABEL 5 Classic Black is a Blended Scotch Whisky with Speyside malts the backbone to this blend. LABEL 5 Gold Heritage “ I have hand-selected whiskies from different ages and casks, which marry together to produce an wonderfully balanced blend.”G. Coull Master Blender. LABEL 5 Extra Premium 12 Year Old is matured in oak casks over 12 years. Currently France’s No.2 blend (and the world’s ninth biggest Scotch). The purchase of Cutty Sark makes La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, which owns Glen Moray and Starlaw distilleries, as well as the Sir Edward’s and Label 5 blended Scotch whiskies, the world’s fifth-largest spirits group. Named after the famous British clipper ship, Cutty Sark is a light blend centred on North British and Invergordon grain whiskies, with malts from over 40 distilleries. WHO WHERE WHAT? Starlaw distillery to produce a light, easy-drinking whisky that not only matched the style of its Label 5 blend, but also has the ability to produce grain spirit. Starlaw History – The plan to build Scotland’s first new green-field grain distillery for 40 years started in 2007 and the project was completed three years later. With a capacity of 25 million litres. Glen Moray Distillery is one of our favourite places to visit (and drink). Do the French like Scottish whisky? Oo la la!

William Lawson’s Finest blend core is the single malt of the Macduff Distillery, married with various malts and grains – no peated whisky is added. William Lawson portfolio includes 12-year-old Scottish Gold, 13-year-old Bourbon-Cask-Finished and Super Spiced – whisky infused with vanilla and spice, born in Scotland between 1853 and 1859, before migrating to Ireland. By 1888 he was working as exports manager at E&J Burke’s blending, bottling and export company in Dublin. The following year the name W Lawson & Co, Dundee and the label ‘Lawson’s Liqueur Whiskey’ were registered to Edward & John Burke – confusingly also trading as W Lawson & Co – by William Lawson. In 1890 Burke’s became a limited company, with Lawson acting as company secretary. The following year he was appointed a director of the firm, but in November 1903 he was dismissed by Burke’s, although the reasons for this are not clear. Burke’s used an address at 20 Reform Street in Dundee for its’ blends, 1923 the actual blending and bottling operations were moved from Dublin to Liverpool. In 1963 Clan Munro Whisky – part of the Italian vermouth and sparkling wine specialist Martini & Rossi – bought the Lawson’s trademark, and agreed with the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) to call the brand William Lawson’s, in order to avoid confusion with the DCL blend Peter Dawson. In 1967 they relocated from Liverpool to Coatbridge and two years later came the William Lawson Whisky Ltd. William Lawson Distillers Ltd acquired Macduff Distillery in Banffshire, which had been constructed in 1962/63. Its single malt was marketed as Glen Deveron. In 1993 rum specialist Bacardi purchased William Lawson brand and Macduff distillery, and in 1998 new headquarters facilities were developed at Parkhead, in the east end of Glasgow near Celtic FC stadium. Under ownership of Bacardi, Lawson’s sales have risen, with volumes almost doubling between 2010 and 2014. Having been introduced into Russia in 2008, Lawson’s can now claim to be the country’s largest imported spirit brand. The blend also now enjoys strong sales in France, Spain, Portugal and Mexico, rarely seen here.