According to researchers, the average whisky consumption by a French adult is 2.15 litres a year – and that’s on top of all the wine, cognac and pastis they drink.
To put it in perspective, that’s 140 million litres of whisky in total, which would fill 45 Olympic swimming pools.
That was enough to put France on the top of the global league table for the biggest whisky drinkers in the world.
In the US, the home of Bourbon, they only drink 1.44 litres of whisky per person each year and in Britain it’s 1.25 litres per person, ever so slightly ahead of the Irish on 1.24 litres per person.
Even the French press were taken aback.
“You thought that the biggest drinkers of whisky were the Americans, the Irish or the Scottish? You are wrong. It’s … the French!” wrote Europe 1 radio.
Not only does France top the world table for whisky drinkers, but the tipple is also the most popular spirit in France, which is not short of popular spirits.
Some 38% of the spirits downed in France are whiskies, enjoyed by all social classes due to the relatively low prices of a bottle. While Scottish malts and blends accounted for 90% of the whisky drunk, the favourite brand was actually Jack Daniels.
But the French love of Scotch is burgeoning, with France the world’s biggest importer of Scotch whisky – some 200 million bottles are downed each year.
But things may change.
While French distilleries currently only produce around 700,000 bottles a year, French whisky makers are convinced that they will one day compete with Irish and Scottish brands.
Nicolas Julhès, the head of the Distillerie de Paris told The Times: “Within 15 years the world’s best whiskies will be French. We will be able to stop copying the Scots and bring a real French style. We have the greatest specialists on the ageing [of alcoholic drinks] who have always worked in wine and cognac.”
So either Scotland needs to up its game or quickly learn how to make cognac.
In 2015, the regions of Alsace in the east and Brittany in the west were declared official whisky-producing areas with “Le Whisky Breton” and “Le Whisky Alsacien” being granted protected status.
Whisky is also made in the south east of the country (Tarn and Herault) and in Champagne-Ardenne, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Corsica.
In partnership with TheLocal.fr