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Pure Malt

The background to this totally unique company, which was founded by Etienne Hosteing in 1988 after more than 15 years direct experience in the cognac, wine growing and distilling industries in France, is most interesting. Etienne is descended from an old, established wine growing family in the Bordeaux region and is proud to be continuing the traditions commenced many decades ago.

During his formative years in the 1970's, time was spent in the wine growing areas of Napa Valley in California and some of the premium grape regions of Mexico where he conceived the idea of combining water and oak wood to achieve a superior range of totally natural, innovative oak extracts that could be easily and successfully utilised by the wine and distilling industry. The flavour profile of these extracts would not vary and, year after year, provide a standardised constant backnote. The variations of nature would at last be taken out of the equation.

This simple idea bore fruit when, in 1988, Etienne acquired the "Distillerie du Source" located in Gensac La Pallue, a small town in the heart of the Cognac district where age-old traditions are an everyday way of life.

This site had a unique spring water source where nature pushes the water near the surface through the well known chalk strata of the surrounding area. In 1995 it became known as "Distillerie du Chave" and today simply as Protea France. The sale of this outstanding spring water is an important part of the Group's business and is supplied to several well-known major distilleries in the district.

Since the company commenced operations, it has been committed to an active research and development program. One breakthrough has been the commercialisation of a unique and patented process utilising thermo treatment of oak wood intended for addition to controlled maturation of wine and spirits.

It is important to understand the key aspects of the oak wood used by Protea and what clearly sets them apart from other manufacturers. Most competitors use far cheaper offcuts, chips, mill ends or trimmings of oak wood but Protea only uses specially seasoned, hand picked and milled sections of oak. Whilst this is certainly a much more costly starting point, it ensures consistently and without compromise the world's finest range of oak wood products.

Wood is a living thing and the essence is captured in Protea's products which are manufactured as closely as possible to traditional artisan processes passed down over the ages.

Protea only accepts starting material from reforested and sustainable forestry practises and only the choicest mill cuts that are without knots and imperfections are selected from trees mostly over 100 years old.

The above is critical to ensure the patented roasting (toasting) process permeates the dense fibre structure to give a consistent and even finish. This process is essential to enable the very soul of the wood to be extracted with all the nuances and complexities that only nature can offer.

Today the company offers two main product streams:


1. NATURAL EXTRACTS AND SPECIALTY FLAVOURS - (for the food, beverage, wine and spirits industries).
  • The world's finest range of premium natural liquid oak extracts. This range covers untoasted to full toasted in both French and American oak types.
  • Selected range of "Bonificateurs" which combines oak and other natural ingredients to round off and mellow a broad range of alcohols and spirits.

2. NATURAL OAK CHIPS, POWDERS AND STAVES - (for the wine and spirit industries)


  • Toasted French oak chips: light - medium - heavy
  • Toasted French oak powder: light - medium - heavy
  • Toasted staves (960cm x 47cm x 7cm): light - medium - heavy (note: comes with holes punched for ease of immersion into tanks)
  • Toasted zig zag staves: light - medium - heavy (note: comes joined together for ease of immersion and suspension through cask bung hole)

TOP TIP: Toasted French oak powder, when added at the time of the crush, will give a far greater and unique complexity to the wine during the fermentation and maturation stages.

The dream has become a reality and, today, Protea France is a leading supplier worldwide. In-house expertise in tasting and formulating all sorts of alcoholic drinks has meant their range of products has grown and now extends to a seemingly endless spectrum of consumer products including wine, cognac, armagnac, calvados, rum, brandy, bourbon, vodka and whisky. All are tailor-made to suit the specific end application and Protea France welcomes the opportunity to work closely with their customers to develop new and exciting beverages.

Water from deep down in the earth and wood from the forests of France - two of nature's important gifts - are treated with respect and dedication at Protea as they forge a new tradition in the industries they serve, ever mindful of their heritage and the need to keep in step with nature.

Visit Protea website