Interviews

Brenne Whisky - Allison Parc

We talk to the Whisky pioneer about her Single Malt and her journey so far.

Allison Parc's journey from the “barre” to the “bar” is as unique as her whisky.

Before immersing herself in the world of spirits, Allison had a professional dance career performing in national ballet companies.

Today, she is the founder and president of Brenne Single Malt Whisky, and is recognised as one of the leading American entrepreneurs for World Whisky.

We caught up with her find out more about Brenne and what it's been like building her brand over the past decade.

Looking back at when it started - going to Cognac to make a whisky sounds counter intuitive at first given what the region is known for. It's proven to be an amazing thing for you. How did that come around?

I was always intending to make whisky in France, the specifics of where were open to the right opportunities.

You are quite forward in talking about how it’s possible to show terroir though single malt whisky, which is now become one of the hot topics in the category. How does the idea of terroir manifest itself in the flavour profile of Brenne?

In so many ways! 100% of our ingredients are local; from the heirloom barley we grow to the local water we source, even to the extraordinary (& incredibly expensive!) local French limousine oak we use for maturing our whisky. 

When you try Brenne, you are struck with the bold fruit notes, the creamy vanilla taste, and the delicate floral notes that are so smooth you might forget you’re actually sipping a whisky. There is no other spirit that tastes like Brenne and our uniquely smooth & delicious profile has to do with the quality of ingredients we choose.

As you say, it's a product of its region in many ways. At what point did you start to mature whisky in Cognac casks and did it take some convincing to get your partner distillery onboard with the idea when you first began?

I started pretty quickly and while he was curious about my idea at first, he jumped right in with me and we’re so thankful we did!

Do you remember what it felt like when you launched at the time – were you nervous, were you confident and how did it go?

I was terrified. I assumed I would be laughed out of every door I entered. Most brands that were early to make Single Malts in the world whisky space (aka: outside of Scotland) were keen to produce products that tasted nearly identical to Scotch, with some even using some Scotch in their own products. 

Brenne was not only different because of where it was made (and who was making it, hi!), but also because of our truly unique taste profile. Mixologists got it right away and were fast to adopt Brenne into cocktails, celebrating the bright fruit and vanilla notes, thank goodness!

Brenne Whisky Distillery

There are two core expressions in the range; the Estate Cask and the Brenne 10. From a flavour perspective, what’s the big difference between them?

I say that Brenne Estate Cask is my poolside whisky and Brenne Ten is my fireside whisky. Because of the big fresh fruit and floral creamy notes of Brenne Estate Cask, this whisky is ideal for cocktail mixing, exciting for people who might be new to drinking whisky, and is amazing on a hot summer’s day. I say everyone’s welcome to the Brenne Estate Cask party because that whisky is so easy & approachable. 

Brenne Ten, on the other hand, is higher in alcohol strength and highlights darker notes like dried fruits, cacao, and spice. I want to sit in a gorgeous leather chair with a hunting dog next to a fire place when I sip on this beauty!

When it comes to R&D in whisky, the lead-time on a new idea is years. It also takes years to get an understanding of required stock for bottling now vs what must be left to mature to build for the future. How did you approach cask management and wrapping your head around it all those complexities?

In short? A giant game of chess & Tetris!  I watch every single penny that comes into and goes out of this business. Innovation, trial and error, etc are all a necessary part of moving forward. Luckily, I have a wonderful list of French pastry chefs who buy up my not-for-the-general-public experiments!

Brenne French Single Malt Whisky
Spirits Beacon Watermark
""I love this industry and wake up excited to continue connecting with more people every day."" — Allison Parc

If you had to name just one highlight of the journey so far, what would it be?

All of it. I love this industry and wake up excited to continue connecting with more people every day.

Despite there being relatively few French Single Malt producers, France is a big market for Whisky and arguably one of the most important ones from a Europe perspective. Are the French embracing French whisky or is it still dominated by the familiar names of Scotch and Bourbon?

The pandemic has definitely inspired the citizens of France to seek out, experiment, and embrace more French Whisky – which is a truly wonderful thing to experience. I think everyone shifted focus to supporting more local, small businesses during this global crisis. 

While I’m an American and the founder of Brenne, me and my team are very proud to continue our expansion into the French market and serve our brand’s home country!

New World Whisky is evolving rapidly, do you think French Whisky will have its moment too and really stamp itself onto the international scene?

I do not think the world outside of France even knows the magnitude and variety of French Whisky that will become available over the next five years. 

It’s going to be an incredibly exciting time for us French Whisky producers! 

Perceptions of whisky, how to enjoy it and even who enjoys it have been slow to change but they are, thankfully, changing. In your opinion what’s the most important thing that can be done to continue making the category more accessible?

For the whisky industry as a whole to continue to become more accessible, we need to continue to connect with greater diversity of consumers through events, advertising, social media, and beyond.

Last but not least, what the best piece of advice you were given as a drinker to help you on your whisky journey? 

Whisky, like coffee and wine, is an acquired taste. Do not have 1 from 1 region and decide it’s not for you. Experiment, try, branch out, and constantly explore. 

There truly is a whisky for everyone!

Spirits Kiosk
Brenne Single Malt Whisky
Brenne Single Malt Whisky
70cl40%FR
£54.94

22 March 2021