"Alfred Giraud est arrivé!" Francophones in Ho Chi Minh City recently toasted the arrival of the storied and award-winning whisky.
CEO Philippe Giraud, representing the fifth generation of this remarkable family business, arrived in Vietnam on the 3rd of June to unveil this magnificent collection of whiskies in an intimate setting at La Villa French Restaurant by Thierry Mounon. The evening was capped off with the uncorking of a bottle of the limited edition “Intrigue” expression of Alfred GIRAUD with guests feeling incredibly lucky to be informed by Philippe that Vietnam was the first export market in the world to taste this whisky.
A family legacy
The Giraud family has a long history of blending world-class cognac ever since Alfred Giraud was encouraged by his father Louis to join him as an expert barrel or cask maker in a renowned cognac house in 1910. Alfred’s son Andre and grandson Jean-Pierre also enjoyed illustrious careers working in the cognac business. Philippe then commenced a new chapter of the family history when he joined one of the world’s largest Scotch whisky companies in 1995 developing a passion for whisky and a deep understanding of the industry. He wanted to combine France’s love of whisky (they are the world's #1 importer of Scotch whisky) with their reputation for producing world-leading wines and spirits to pioneer a new category of Malt Whisky produced and bottled in France. Philippe then proudly joined his father Jean-Pierre to establish The Alfred GIRAUD French Malt Whisky Company producing whisky using traditional methods but is so clearly different hence their popular tagline of “traditionally different.”
What is so unique about Alfred GIRAUD
The family has over 100 years of experience in making the world’s most famous cognacs and is able to draw on this mastery of blending and apply it to the new tradition of producing French whisky. They use their own malts and distill the whisky using the highest quality copper pot stills but their secret sauce lies in the variation and quality of the casks or barrels that they use to age the whisky.
Such barrels are known as vintage casks meaning they have previously held other spirits most notably cognac which then seep into the whisky over time as the spirit matures.
Alfred GIRAUD only uses old or rare casks sometimes up to 50 or 60 years old to age their whisky and infuse the spirit with an even richer flavor profile. We don’t know exactly how long their whisky is aged before bottling (but it is at least 10 years) but Vietcetera was fascinated to discover that whisky matured in the cognac region of France will age up to 40% faster than whisky in Scotland due to the warmer temperatures. Alfred GIRAUD actually controls 100% of the production process from procuring the barley to the distillation process through to full ownership of the casks in a process known as “from grain to glass.”
Beautiful, bespoke bottles
Indeed, the sleek and opulent design of the bottles is the manifestation of the union of two cultures, whisky, and cognac, that have embodied Philippe’s life story. The base of the bottle resembles a beautiful cut glass whisky tumbler ascending through the chassis towards a crown of a traditionally luxurious XO cognac bottle. Bormioli Rocco the leading Italian glassware specialist, is the only supplier able to produce these bottles to Philippe’s unique specifications.
These bottles are even more striking when arranged together as a trio of different expressions Heritage, Harmonie and Voyage named appropriately to depict the story of this special whisky which is incredibly exclusive with a total of only 35 casks being released per year equivalent to 14,000 bottles.
Indeed, Alfred GIRAUD is very particular about who they work with choosing only local partners with a track record of great passion for the industry in cities such as Paris, Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico City, Toronto, and Seoul. Vietcetera is delighted to announce that Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have now been added to this list, distributed in partnership with Bertrand Azalbert from Boutique Brands Collective.
Bring the Intrigue
As mentioned, Philippe made the remarkable gesture to share his iconic Intrigue expression with the guests of Bertrand to mark the occasion of the launch of Alfred GIRAUD in Vietnam. Guests were mesmerized by the futuristic jet-black visage of the whisky almost as much as its deeply complex flavor profile characterized by having been matured in a “magic” 65-year-old cask the style of which must always be kept secret thereby explaining why Philippe chose to name this whisky Intrigue. Only 810 bottles of this whisky have been produced, never to be repeated, which further enhances the desirability of this whisky to aficionados and collectors alike and our evening felt even more special given that only 20 bottles of Intrigue have been allocated for sale in Vietnam.
Vietcetera is a big believer in the hospitality concept of “2+2=6”, the result of thoughtfully pairing food with wine or whisky to ensure that they both enhance the flavor profile of each other. Thierry’s menu was curated to bring out the best in the whisky showcasing the finest caviar, scallops, lobster, beef, and cheese available in Vietnam while his wife Tina was a consummate host explaining in friendly yet informative detail the taste profiles of the dishes. The woody and vanilla notes of the HERITAGE expression combined perfectly with the luscious Hokkaido scallops while the richer, spicier, and peaty profile of the HARMONIE were perfectly matched to Thierry’s rib of beer with truffle gratin dauphinoise.
Chef Thierry and Tina closed the evening with a wonderful selection of cheese boards from iconic French cheesemonger Les Freres Marchand to round off a classically French evening in honor of this quintessentially French Malt Whisky which looks all set to prosper in Vietnam.