Un whisky 100% français
Vilanova est une marque de Whisky française, qui produit et vieillit à Villeneuve sur Vère, dans le Tarn en Occitanie. Vilanova est le nom que la Distillerie Castan a donné à son Whisky. Cela signifie “Villeneuve” en Occitan.
1-Growing and selecting barley :
Malting barley is the cereal used to make the VILANOVA whisky.
To produce the malt whisky, the distillery uses barley which is rich in starch, allowing to obtain fermentable sugars and consequently, alcohol. Barley is the most significant expense for a distillery.
Up until now, the distillery has been partly using its own malting barley production. L’orge est cultivée par la famille Castan, sur des terres familiales sur la commune de Villeneuve sur Vère, dans une région aux paysages vallonnés.Sur 160 hectares, 90% de la culture est consacrée à l’orge, et 10% au seigle. En plus de ces 4 Whiskies 100% orge, la Distillerie Castan propose également un Rye Whisky 100% seigle.
2- Malting :
Malting is made out of the distillery. Barley grains are sent to a malthouse using 28-tonne trucks. Malting is the process where the malting barley is transformed into malt. It consists of two stages :
* Steeping : Once the barley is harvested, it enters a dormant period. Then the barley is submitted to several phases of humidification and oxygenation. The wet barley is spread out on the malting floor, and a germination of a few millimetres will transform the starch into a whitish flour. In order to stop the germination, malts are transferred to the drying floor. At this stage, the barley is called green malt.
* Kilning : The germinated grain is transferred to the kiln for drying. When dried with hot air, it acquires sweet, toasted and roasted biscuit notes. When dried above a peat fire, it develops smoky notes which you will find after the distillation.
3.The water source :
La distillerie utilise une eau naturelle, puisée à une profondeur de 110 mètres. En contact avec un sol plus perméable, et une roche sédimentaire, calcaire, l’eau pénètre le sous sol et se charge en minéraux, carbonates et sulfates. It then becomes alkaline and hard, which gives the Vilanova whisky its character and its unique taste.
Brewing is the process where the malted grain is reduced to a kind of coarse flour, then soaked in spring water, and heated up at several different levels of temperature at the Castan Distillery. Thanks to the brewing unit of the distillery, the malting barley is transformed into a sweet liquid, called « wort ».
The malt is cooked so that it releases all of its flavours. The sugars are extracted during the brewing process and the juices are separated from the floury grains at the filtration stage. The juices will then be left for 5 days to ferment in stainless steel tanks. Yeasts are added to the juices to trigger the fermentation of the sugars and to transform them into alcohol. What remains of the dried grains, once the brewing is over, is sent to local livestock farms to feed the animals.
Distillation is made using a a a copper pot still dating from 1929, inherited from Grandfather Gilbert, and modernised over the years. In 1992, a copper rectification column was added to the pot still. It allowed to refine the « eaux-de-vie ». Thanks to this inheritance, Sébastien Castan, third generation, started his whisky production in 2010.
Regardless of its form, using copper to make pot stills is no mere coincidence. Copper allows to get rid of unwanted sulpharised substances. The extraction of the alcohol is happening as low-pressure steam goes through the copper tanks. L’alambic de la distillerie Castan donne des alcools souples, ce qui confère une vraie signature aux Whiskies Vilanova.
The Castan family decided to age their whisky in casks formerly used for red wine or white wine. The red wine casks are mainly coming from the Bordelais. The ageing process is one of the essential stages in making a high-quality whisky. During that stage, the whisky is gaining wood aromas from the cask containing it. It is that same cask that gives the whisky its amber colour. The colour is natural, from the wood, without any additional caramel.
Some whiskies go through a double maturation, the first one in new casks (French or American oak casks), and the second in casks formerly used for wine. The whiskies are non-chill filtered. They are exclusively « single cask » whiskies, which means each bottle comes from an individual ageing barrel. The content of each barrel is bottled separately, there is no mixing or blending in the distillery, which ensures a unique aroma. The single cask whisky is the trademark of the Castan distillery. Each expression was subjected to a unique ageing, and produced in a limited edition. La distillerie a acquis une certaine reconnaissance avec l’obtention de la médaille d’argent du concours général agricole 2018, pour sa cuvée ROJA, élevée en fût de vin rouge, et la médaille d’or à ce même concours en 2019 pour notre Whisky tourbé, le Terrocita.