On the Trail

The French Spirits Revolution

David Driscoll

This past December I began a series of posts for On the Trail about my journeys through some of the more rustic, less-travelled regions of the French countryside, documenting some of the smaller brandy producers throughout the land. While the adventure was a new one for our recently-created, travel-oriented blog, the truth is we've been going to France in search of spirits since 2011. While the eyes of the booze world were on Scotland and Kentucky, we were lurking in small sheds and centuries-old barns, trying to develop new markets for our spirits customers as the pipeline of mature whiskey began to dry up. The work we've done over the past five years has laid a firm foundation for serious dividends at this point. We now have a portfolio of about twenty-five different farmers and small-growers we work with directly who—in our opinion—produce incredible aged spirits for honest, reasonable prices. Perhaps one of the clearest examples of what we've been able to accomplish came from the shed in the photo above and just landed in our warehouse.

We first blogged our visit to Pacory this past January, a neighbor of our friends at Lemorton in the Domfrontais region of Normandy. The prospect of pear-dominated brandies with age and higher proofs was an exciting one for many of our local mixologists, especially if the price was right. We're happy to announce that our first cask strength expression from Pacory has hit the shelves and we couldn't be happier with the result. At $39.99, it's one of the most affordable Calvados brandies we've ever purchased, let alone one at full proof (which generally drives the price higher). At 54%, you can definitely sip this pear-dominated Pacory release, but we highly recommend adding a few drops of water. Try mixing a Jack Rose cocktail, as well—one of the most delicious apple brandy-based drinks we know of. 

While prices for rare and interesting whiskies continue to rise, we're continuing to look for value-oriented alternatives in the K&L spirits department. At the moment, France continues to be at the epicenter of our search.

-David Driscoll