Sunday, November 26, 2017

Around The Whisk(e)y World In 7 Days - Sunday

Distillery: Domaine des Hautes Glaces
Location: Grenoble, France
By: Nicolas Läderach

“Organic and local”

Do you know that France is one of the major whiskey consuming countries in the world?

Yes, the country of cognac and red-wine, loves the well-made and authentic product that the whisky distilleries are producing. Many “smaller” craft-distilleries are taking the lead in the French whisky industry, and back in 2009, Frédéric Revol and Jeremy Bricka was surely surfing the wave and the craze for organic crafted spirits, when they founded their farm craft-distillery; Domaine des Hautes Glaces, located in the French Alps near Grenoble, to the pass Acarias.

The distillery has taken its place at 900 m altitude, in a four centuries old building located in the epicenter of its own organic cereals fields, where they grow 5 different types of cereals. Each cereal and the location of the field, play an important part in the final product. Domaine Des Hautes Glaces whiskies are being produced, from start to finish, entirely on-site at their estate. The size of the wash still is about 24 hectoliters and the spirit still 600L.

Domaine des Hautes Glaces are an interesting “young” craft-distillery that produces an amazing range of single malt and single rye whiskies.
I would like to define Domaine des Hautes Glaces with three main characteristics:

  • 1. From earth to whisky and from grain to the glass, with the use of different varieties of local and organic barley/rye, cultivated at the domain.

  • 2. Authentic and "old-school" double distillation methods, using a small alambics pot stills (normally used to distill cognac) heated under raw wood fire.

  • 3. Maturation exclusively in different variations of French oak casks, entirely bottled as natural colour/non chill-filtered whiskies.

I have chosen to write about Domaine des Hautes Glaces "Les Moissons" from 2014 (translate: The Harvest) because it perfectly represents and showcases the main philosophy of Domaine des Hautes Glaces.

The Les Moissons is a very young spirit made of malted barley. Aged between 2 and 3 years, so officially it can’t be named whisky.
The Les Moissons is an "Uisge Beatha" (water of life). It's like the genesis of whisky in a bottle. An ode to “terroir”, cereal and creation! It’s defiantly a very fresh, intense, and interesting dram, that almost bring you into the whole creation force. More seriously; the spirit comes from a mix of malted barley, from two different cereal fields, that have been harvested in 2010 and 2012.

Personal tasting notes:

“Young, fresh, fiery and intense”.

On the nose, I get a strong note of eau-de-vie. Very sweet and fruity. Almost like nosing a pear spirit – slightly grilled - followed by barley, cereal biscuits, quince fruit paste, and brioche. I get a strong sense of “terroir” and aromas of earth, wet soil fields, and haystacks.

At first, a sharp fruity acid wave accompanied by flavors of butter, marzipan, and cinnamon. There are also notes of malt and dried mushrooms, which adds a dry, grassy and rustic side to the ”whisky”.

The finish reminds me of the rural parts of France where this “whisky” is made. Pastry with fresh earthly notes and kind of a smooth English cream. I haven’t found any woody notes, so the cask influence is zero to none.

The Les Moissons is wonderfully different than Scotch, even though it reminds me a bit of Kilchoman’s Machir Bay, of course with much lesser smoke. Very tasty and an interesting experience.

We must now patiently await Domaine des Hautes Glaces’ new products, to taste how time and the different variety of cereals has influenced them.

I have heard that The Ceros; a cask strength rye whisky aged in the French white-wine cask; “Vin Jaune” should be absolutely TERRIFIC!

To learn more about Domaine des Hautes Glaces, check out their website here

Photos & Article By: Nicolas Läderach
Graphic Art By: Seth Brown


My name is Nicolas Läderach. I’m 31 years old and live in Haute Savoie, France, but I was born in Geneva, Switzerland. I’m a whisky enthusiast on my fifth years, who loves to make a lot of new discoveries through my whisky journey. I prefer Scotch whisky, but I would love to try more American, Irish, Japanese and other whiskeys from around the world.

Cheers to all of you!

You can find Nicolas under the username @nicowhiskies on Instagram

France was this year’s final destination. Thank you all for traveling with us. If you want to read our previously distillery visits? Click below!