Tour France’s outstanding distilleries

Explore unique distilleries across France; the ideal destination to learn more about the country’s finest liqueur producers.

Discover a whole new world of premium liqueurs on a distillery tour with Wine Paths. Our itineraries will take you across the regions of France to experience many different kinds of liqueur alongside a detailed insight into distillery history.

France is home to a huge range of breweries, wineries, and distilleries, and the country’s expertise with crafting superior alcohol has meant that it is also one of the best destinations for a liqueur tasting tour. From mountain locations to distilleries on the coast, exceptional liqueur can be found almost anywhere. 

Overview of Distilleries in France

Many people first think of wineries when they think of France; of provincial vineyards sprawling across sun-dappled hills and elegant bottles beside plates of fine food. But there is so much more to discover when you delve a little deeper into the range of popular drinks that come from the country.

Whiskey distilleries are plentiful in France, which explains why the country is surprisingly one of the biggest consumers of whiskey in the world! The core of whiskey production is in the east of France, with distilleries in Brittany such as Glann ar Mor and Warengham famous for their use of locally grown buckwheat. 

The region of Cognac is home to the only cognac distilleries in the world, where white wine is distilled multiple times and blended by a trained expert to produce the specialist variety of brandy. Vodka is also a key export from France with numerous distilleries making a name for themself across the country, using the distillery knowledge that has been refined over the years.

It is this expert knowledge that has been applied in so many liqueur distilleries in France, resulting in places such as Le Palais Bénédictine in Fécamp and Carré Cointreau in Angers. Whichever area of France you want to visit, you will find plenty of high-quality distilleries as you travel. 

History of Distilleries in France

The history of distilleries in France began with wine, as the French tried to figure out a way to preserve their signature alcohol before it was transported to different countries. This distillation process created brandy, and from this discovery other distilleries sprang up, as people began to apply the expertise gained from producing wine to other liquors. 

Brandy and cognac are the best-known spirits to come out of France, and the techniques that distilleries honed producing these spirits led to the creation of liqueurs. Many French liqueurs have a brandy base, and rapidly gained popularity in the 18th and 19th century as liqueur distilleries emerged all over the country. 

Now France is home to a wide range of distilleries, producing classic drinks like whiskey as well as more recently popular spirits such as vodka and gin. Many premium liqueur distilleries have been around for centuries, and have continued to grow and change with the times as liqueurs have once again come into fashion as a key cocktail ingredient. 

What Happens on a Distillery Visit

The French have a meticulous approach to liqueur distillation and use only the best ingredients in every step of the process. A distillery visit is a great way to learn more about the method and the ethos behind France’s best liqueurs.

Wine Paths offers tours of the best distilleries in the country, and a visit to a liqueur distillery would likely include an introduction to the label, a guided tour of the factory and distillation premises, and an opportunity to taste the product at the end. In many locations, you will be guided by a master blender who has been training for years to perfect their knowledge of a specific liqueur and who will be able to answer any questions you may have.

As liqueurs are commonly used in cocktails as well as being enjoyed on their own, some distilleries may also offer a mixology masterclass that teaches you what other ingredients can be mixed with your liqueur to create signature and classic cocktails.

The Best Distilleries to Visit

Whilst some small distilleries do not offer tours and tasting to the public, four of France’s best liqueur distilleries do, and have been hand chosen by us to offer an exceptional experience. 

The mountainous Auvergne-Rhône-Alps region is home to the Caves de la Chartreuse distillery in the town of Voiron, featuring the longest liqueur cellar in the world. It is here that the herbal green and yellow Chartreuse liqueur is aged after it has been distilled, and where you will get the chance to taste some of the spirit after a tour of the distillery. 

Bénédictine is one of France’s oldest and most distinguished liqueurs, produced in Le Palais Bénédictine in Normandy. This distillery offers exclusive tasting experiences with a Master of Distillation, who explains the intricate ingredients blended to produce the drink, as well as guided tours of the distillery and the Bénédictine museum. 

The only distillery to produce Cointreau is in Angers in the Loire Valley; a premium brand that still uses the same distillery techniques to produce its signature orange liqueur. As well as tours and tasting workshops, you can also visit their liqueur boutique and discover the range of liqueurs that Cointreau now produce, including a unique cognac blend. 

Grand Marnier is a liqueur with a colourful past and is now distilled in the 13th-century castle Château de Bourg-Charente in the Cognac region. This area of France is full of luxury, and the distillery offers tours that take you through every element of the liqueur’s creation.

Discover more about French liqueur tasting and our unique wine tours by contacting one of our local experts. 


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