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The Giraud Way

The French Way

The French Way

France is a gourmand’s dream. It has the finest ingredients, centuries of know-how and experimentation by knowledgeable craftsmen, and a dedication to excellence that makes its wines and spirits some of the best in the world. While whisky is only 40 years old in France, the knowledge and expertise its artisans bring span centuries. The House of Giraud builds on these traditions and brings our dedication to uncompromising curation and quality to Alfred GIRAUD French Malt Whisky.

French whisky respects the European Union’s regulations on spirits, as well as French law. Wheat, rye, buckwheat or corn can be used, and different distillation techniques are permitted, including in one or more passes, per batch or continuously, and direct or indirect heating. To be called a single malt whisky, it must be made with malted barley within a single distillery. Also allowed are blends made by blending malt whiskies from multiple distilleries, which are called double, triple, or blended malts. In our whiskies, master blenders take the country’s best distillates and create unique blends that highlight the richness and elegance of France.

Barley Selection

Barley is where it all begins. We exclusively use the best spring barley, all harvested in France, in our malts. We work closely with our farmers and test different varieties to evaluate the taste and yield, and we invest in traceability to the farmer to ensure our barley is of the highest quality.

Malting Facility

Once harvested, barley needs to be malted to activate the enzymes that will be used in mashing. The production of malt is a precise technique that requires specialized facilities and knowledge, and it has a significant effect on the finished whisky. We oversee every aspect of malting in the Malterie des Hautes Vosges, a revolutionary micro-malting facility we co-own. Here, we customize the malting process to provide the specific flavors needed for the whisky and expand our blending palette while ensuring only the finest ingredients make it to our stills.

Distillery

We distill our malts at the historic Distillerie de Saint-Palais, a joint venture between the Giraud family and Nau family, who have distilled cognac since 1830. This partnership brings together nearly three centuries of spirits expertise and allows us to craft distinctively French whiskies while supervising every step of the process.

This meticulous and time-consuming process results in an exceptional aromatic palette for our master blenders.

We have invested in cutting-edge techniques to improve the quality of our whisky. While traditional distilleries drain their mash through the perforated floor of the mash tun, we have built a new milling and mashing facility equipped with a separate filtration system.

This innovation yields a particularly rich malt mash, creating exceptional aromas.

We place the fermented malt in traditional fire-heated copper stills in small batches to undergo a double distillation process.

Exposing the copper to open flames helps create a rich and distinct flavor. We distill multiple malt distillates with different characteristics, each going through a different aging process.

We have invested in cutting-edge techniques to improve the quality of our whisky. While traditional distilleries drain their mash through the perforated floor of the mash tun, we have built a new milling and mashing facility equipped with a separate filtration system.
This innovation yields a particularly rich malt mash, creating exceptional aromas.
We place the fermented malt in traditional fire-heated copper stills in small batches to undergo a double distillation process.
Exposing the copper to open flames helps create a rich and distinct flavor. We distill multiple malt distillates with different characteristics, each going through a different aging process.
This meticulous and time-consuming process results in an exceptional aromatic palette for our master blenders.

Curated Malts

In addition to our meticulously produced malts, our master blenders expand their range by carefully curating fine single malts from across the country. These exceptional single malts complement our own and produce the unique blends Alfred GIRAUD French Malt Whisky is known for. From the beginning, we age these malts ourselves, so they harmoniously blend with ours and we can maintain the highest level of quality.

Forestry and Casks

Wood and time transform a raw spirit into complex and nuanced whisky, and the Giraud family are experts in harnessing the power of wood. Our history as coopers began in the 19th century, and later generations spent decades learning the secrets of aging eaux de vie in French casks. We bring this knowledge of wood to the creation of Alfred GIRAUD French Malt Whisky in new and former cognac casks, as well as a selection of casks that previously contained some of the best French wines and spirits.

André Giraud has more than 60 years of experience with cognac casks, and he uses his extensive knowledge and decades-old relationships in the Cognac region to curate casks that previously aged extra-old cognac. As spirits age, the wood takes on some of the characteristics of the spirit, so they bestow elegant and complex flavors when used to age our whiskies. These casks are scattered across the region in old cellars, and the strong relationships the House of Giraud has allowed us to acquire these rare treasures.

In addition to these rare former cognac casks, the House of Giraud uses a limited proportion of new French and American oak casks to mature the whisky. Some of the French oak comes from André Giraud’s family forestry operation in Limousin, a region renowned for its exceptional wood. We source the remainder of the oak from leading cooperages in Cognac. The climate, soil, and rocky conditions in Limousin are ideal for growing oak, and we can find both loose and tight grained oak to use in our casks. Loose-grained oak favors oxidation, creating bold flavors, while tight-grained oak allows less oxygen to pass through, resulting in a more refined and elegant whisky.

The House of Giraud looks beyond traditional casks in its Exploratory Blends, where we experiment with French casks that have aged exceptional wines and spirits. Each experiment aging whisky in these casks takes years to complete, and only the best will be released in the small-batch Exploratory Blends.

House of Giraud

Aging

We age our whiskies at the Distillerie de Saint-Palais, where co-master blenders Georges Clot and Gaetan Mariolle carefully supervise the aging process. They taste the malt distillates regularly and use the reduction process to reduce the level of alcohol over a long period of time, which is a common cognac technique, but unusual with whiskies. Our master blenders regularly taste each distillate and add a precise, but unique, amount of water to each cask based on its aging characteristics. The process is a labor of love, providing consistency, balance, and control over our final product.

Blending

Blending is our heritage and is a technique that courses through our veins. It is our family legacy, our greatest asset, and what makes our whiskies traditionally different. We find balance through blending, which allows us to use unique casks and different malts to create complex and elegant whiskies. At Alfred GIRAUD French Malt Whisky, five generations of industry experience come together with world-class French blenders to craft balanced whiskies that defy tradition. We blend the finest malts aged in different woods to create a spirit greater than the sum of its parts.

Georges Clot, the cellar master who succeeded André Giraud at a prestigious maison de cognac, and his protégé, Gaetan Mariolle, lead the way as co-master blenders. At the Distillerie de Saint-Palais, they blend batches of different mash bills aged mostly in extra old cognac casks with a proportion aged in new French and American oak casks and a selection of some of the finest malts France has to offer, resulting in superb blends with different styles. Their experiments led to our two signature whiskies, HERITAGE and HARMONIE, which represent the style and vision of Alfred GIRAUD French Malt Whisky, and limited-edition Exploratory Blends, where they create inventive, balanced flavors that highlight the unique flavors of France.

Grain to Glass

When crafting whiskey, our experts tread the line between art and science. Learn about our unique approach to whiskey making, which begins in the barley fields and ends in your glass.

1. Barley Fields

We use the best French spring barley to create our malts, and we experiment with different varieties to find the perfect flavors for our blends. An exceptional whisky requires exceptional barley, so we only work with the best farmers.

2. Malting

Barley is soaked in warm water for several days to encourage it to germinate. Once it shoots, germination is stopped by drying it in a kiln. How it is dried can deeply impact flavor, especial if peat is used as fuel. The final product is called malt.

3. Milling

After it is filtered, the malt is ground into grist in a mill. There are two rollers inside the mill that crush the malt into the desired consistency. Finding the perfect consistency is very important to the next step, mashing.

4. Mashing

We use the best French spring barley to create our malts, and we experiment with different varieties to find the perfect flavors for our blends. An exceptional whisky requires exceptional barley, so we only work with the best farmers.

5. Fermentation

Adding yeast to the wort begins the fermentation process, during which the yeast converts sugar into alcohol. Fermentation takes 2-3 days, and the fermented liquid is called wash. Fermentation produces alcohol

6. Distilling

The wash is double distilled in small batches in traditional fire-heated Charente copper stills, so we have different flavors and aromas to blend. The heat of the flames on the copper imparts a unique flavor to our whisky.

7. Aging

We age our whiskies in wood casks, most which have previously aged cognac. As it matures, the harsh flavors of raw alcohol are tamed, and the wood adds distinctive flavor characteristics and colors to the spirit.