Traditionally called by a variety of names, including notably Lambig, Fine Bretagne, gwinardant, odivi or labout, the Cider-based eau de vie produced in Brittany is made by distilling cider and has about 40% alcohol content. Coming from the traditional orchards of Brittany, rich in its multiple varieties of bitter, sweet and acidic apple ciders, it can be either white or amber in color.
For a very long time, this farmer’s eau-de-vie was the exclusive privilege of backwoods farmers in the countryside who distilled the cider in the surrounding farms. Intended for the personal consumption of the people in the countryside, it was also appreciated by mariners. Its spread throughout all of Brittany coincides with the impressive extension of the cider producing orchards in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in the Rance Valley, the Pays Goëlo and the south of Cornouaille, the region of Lorient and Auray. Cod fishing practices by the locals also played a significant role in the development and spread of the cider outside of its humble origins.
The word “lambig” comes from the Breton word (the historic, Celtic language of Brittany) “ul lambig,” the Breton word for “a still,” the device used to distill alcohol. The cider is heated until the alcohol evaporates. A re-cooling system allows to condense the vapors to reintegrate them into the distillation which brings the alcohol level to about 70%. This alcohol is next slowly reduced to 40%. The eau de vie is then aged in an oak barrel over several years. During the aging process, the exchange with the wood of the cask and the influence of Brittany’s climate give it its unique character: its complex aroma, a mixture of fruits and wood.