Featured at World Whisky Day 2016: When ex-ballerina Allison Patel couldn’t find the whiskies she’d enjoyed during her global travels here in the US, she did the next logical thing and began creating a distribution company to remedy that dearth. During this process, she found a Cognac producer in France who had distilled some single malt on the side. A taste compelled Allison to collaborate with the producer over the next few years and in 2012, the first Brenne was officially launched. The Estate Cask is the flagship model (though a 10 year was released in October, 2015) with an average age of seven years, matured in French Limousine oak barrels before being finished in Cognac casks. With the drive of its young and motivated owner, along with an award-winning whisky, Brenne appears to have a bright future.
Location: Cognac, France
Maturation: Cognac barrels
Nose: Hazelnut, chocolate, strawberry, banana runts, perfume, apple cider vinegar
Palate: Hazelnut, bubblegum, banana foster
Finish: Cognac, hazelnut
Comments: The whisky in this review came from barrel 286 and was bottled in 2014. It is helpful to let this one breathe a little bit in your glass.
Adam – Talk about a French Connection. One of the great things about exploring whisky is encountering expressions like the Brenne. A story full of creative influence and respect for tradition, infused with an appreciation for locality to render something truly unique. Deconstructing this whisky is like trying to tease apart a rainbow. The individual elements may or may not be impressive but the whole is far above the sum. Sort of like Voltron, I guess. Regardless of the parts, this whisky hits the collective sweet spot like few others for the group at large. You owe it to yourself to find a taste.
Jenny – There is an artificial sweetness to this that reminds me of middle school. Like sugary sweet perfumes or overly sweet chap stick, but in a delicious way. I know it doesn’t sound delicious but it is. The descriptions may not sound good at all but you need to try it.
Meghan – The best image I can create for the Brenne is Marilyn Monroe. The nose reflects her stereotyped image from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: syrupy sweet with an artificial fruitiness, like the candy pink dress. It is flighty and flirty, enticing fun but not promising any substance. The nose is also ripe with sexiness with chocolate covered strawberries and hazelnuts. The nose is pure superficial view of Marilyn: sweet, sexy, and silly. But, like the actress, the Brenne holds a lot of substance beneath the surface. Despite the image Hollywood insisted she continually portray, Marilyn was a skilled actress full of passion and potential who, had she had the chance, would have only improved with age. The Brenne is the same. There is deep complexity in the palate and finish with a lovely hazelnut and mature (versus artificial) banana caramel note. There is a still a touch of the nose’s sweet superficiality but it becomes a muted memory – just enough of hint to remind you that yes, you are still sipping the same whisky.
Michael – I would say the Brenne stands alone as a whisky. I can’t think of any comparison. It has this sweet, artificial character that is incredibly pleasant. I enjoy the aroma by itself and it pairs very well with the palate. Sometimes you get a difference with the palate and smell. It is very dessert-like and pulls out some of the more pleasant elements of cognac. Everything I associate with it I wouldn’t think I’d want want to try, but it works here for some reason. It reminds me of some Belgian wheat beers that have prominent banana notes.