Glann ar Mor distillery to close for goodBy Melita Kiely
The Glann ar Mor distillery in Brittany will close next month as a “direct consequence” of a new protected geographical indication (PGI) that is “simply unacceptable” for the distillery.
The distillery will officially cease operating on 15 August after 18 years of production.
Discussions regarding a PGI status for whisky made in Brittany began in 2009, which Glann ar Mor distillery owners Martine and Jean Donnay said in a statement released by the distillery, they were initially enthusiastic about as a way to protect and enhance whisky produced in the region.
However, the owners consider the PGI put in place by the INAO (Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité) at the start of 2015 too detrimental to the distillery’s work as it favours a standardized product.
In order to exist beside large producers, they said, artisanal distillers must be able to pursue a qualitative approach and express their creativity, but the PGI has evolved to unacceptable conditions for artisan distillers such as themselves.
The PGI’s regulations state only single malt made from barley can be labeled as Whisky Breton and also the alembic stills used by the distillery are no longer permitted.
As a result, Glann ar Mor said its single malt rye expression, which it spent several years developing, is no longer legally a Breton whisky under the new PGI legislation.
The group said this was just one of the problems that pushed Glann ar Mor to make the decision to close, but warned other whiskies would also find themselves in the same position.
By not being able to refer to its Britanny origins, the distillery said it put the brand at an “insurmountable” disadvantage outside of France, as other exporters classify their whiskies by region – Scotland, Ireland, Japan – as a point of sale, which the distillery is no longer be able to do.
The PGI of Breton Whisky is currently undergoing European validation in Brussels and a decision is expected to be announced in the next few months.
Glann ar Mor employs six people who export its whiskies to countries including Germany, England, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Canada, Singapore and Taiwan, and receives more than 7,000 visitors each year.
The distillery boasted sales growth of 25% in its last financial year ending 31 March 2015.