Michel Couvreur 12 year old whisky, 43%

Ever since I was at Michel Couvreur in Burgundy last year I’ve had sort of a fascination for the brand. How this came to result in no bottles bought except for a four year old grain whisky, I don’t know. I think a case of not putting my money where my mouth is.

I think I should shell out at some point to get the Overaged, or the Spirale or any of the other rather kick-ass whiskies. Luckily, I did get a sample of the ‘regular’ 12 year old they have available.

Obviously, they don’t disclose which distillery it’s from. Many people assume it’s Glen Garioch since they have the ‘Old Meldrum’ address on their label, but that’s just where they’ve got some sort of office and has nothing to do with the distillery.

What I find remarkable is that it says ‘Distilled and aged over 12 years in Scotland’. I was under the impression that all their whiskies matured in Bouze-les-Beaune. Apparently this is not necessarily true for their single malts, contrary to their blended malts and blends.

Anyway, we have a 12 year old matured in sherry casks without much other information.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

There’s a lot of sherry and a lot of caramel. It seems to fit the product line! Dates, with a sweet and rich simplicity. Ever so slightly salty with a tiny trace of smoke.

The palate is very smooth and has a certain spiciness to it that is not strange for sherry casks. Oak and clove, with some cinnamon too. Salted caramel. Obviously, juicy sherry too.

The finish is fully consistent with maybe some more sweet, dried fruits.

I think this product is rather typical for Michel Couvreur. Where their blended malts and blends are a bit more complex, a lot of the whisky they release has it’s beauty in simplicity. This is a dram without an overload of complexity, but what it does (dried fruit, sweet sherry, a touch of spice, oak and smoke) it does very, very well.

When I tried this I might have been slightly let down by that simplicity, but in hind sight (and with a bit of a favorable bias towards the company) I think this dram is well worth a couple tenners. It would never work when this would cost 60 or 70 euros, contrary to what many NAS products now cost. Luckily, this sits at just over 40 bucks, which I’d happily spend on it.

Michel Couvreur 12 year old whisky, 43%. No longer available.

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Tobermory 1972-2005, 32 years old, Oloroso sherry cask finish, 49.5%

Somehow, it seems to be a legendary year for many a distillery. 1972. GlenDronach, Caperdonich, but also Ledaig and Tobermory. Ledaig 1972 is one of the ‘argument’ whiskies people mention when I state I generally don’t like Ledaig. I’ve never had one and when in said argument I ask people to put their money where their mouth is they generally back down.

Anyway, I tried this Tobermory at MZ’s place a while ago and since I was just enjoying whisky and not necessarily reviewing things I asked for a sample for review in our two sample traffic. He was kind enough to give me a quite sizable dram.

Yesterday I felt it was time for a nip. And after a nip I decided to have every drop I had since it’s awesome.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

Very old fashioned, heavy and leathery sherry. Lots of old fruits, the stuff that’s been on the kitchen counter too long, but also dried and candied fruits. Ever so slightly salty and a tiny bit of peat as well, I think. Some resin and pine scents too.

The palate is dry and slightly peppery (red hot chili peppers). Leather and furniture polish. Old Chesterfield chairs. Lots of old oak. Dates and plums, thick and sweet sherry. Resin. There’s a LOT going on. Maybe a hint of licorice in the back?

Dry, leather, old oak, old sherry. Dates too, and slightly bitter.

Well. Damn. This is a great, great dram. I can see where it gets its reputation from and it is well earned. With the quality and depth of the sherry going on it reminds me of that Karuizawa 1964 I had a few years ago. It’s not entirely similar, of course, but there are some flavors that are the same. The combination of sherry and pine works very well for me.

I didn’t really know it was a finish until I just checked. I’m surprised by that since the sherry has a lot of depth and it sure has that old fashioned quality to it that I always attributed to sherry casks from the seventies. Of course, it doesn’t say how long it’s been finished.

This is another of those great drams that everyone should taste once in their lives I think. Especially since it has such a reputation among whisky lovers. Maybe a bit like Bunnahabhain Old Acquaintance, and Lagavulin 21.

It also makes me want to taste old Oloroso sherry. Or old sherry in general, except maybe PX.

So, if you happen to be at some festival and find this, and a dram fits your wallet, I highly recommend trying this. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Tobermory 1972-2005, 32 years old, Oloroso sherry cask finish, 49.5%. According to Whiskybase it’s worth some € 430 now.

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Hyde 10 years old Single Malt, President’s Cask, 46%

Hyde Irish Whiskey is a new brand of Irish Single Malt. As you might guess from the fact that they start their company with a 10 year old single malt, they’ve not distilled this product but bought it.

The whiskey was matured for nine years in a bourbon cask and finished for a year in an Oloroso sherry cask. Where they bought the spirit is unclear but since it’s a single malt there aren’t many options.

The name ‘Hyde’ in combination with President’s Cask refers back to Douglas Hyde, Ireland’s first president who was anointed in 1938.

Conor Hyde was kind enough to send me a sample for reviewing, which I gladly accepted.

The nose is gentle and very malty, quite floral as well. Slightly straw like with a bit of dryness. Quite some flavors, oak, licorice, lots of malt. It has a certain green flavor and that typically Irish lightness. But still, with that malty notes it tastes a bit more like you’d expect from a Scotch.

The palate is more fierce than expected, with some sharp spices and lots of sweet malt. A certain candy like sweetness as well with flowers and some perfume. Pepper, malt and oak.

The finish is very consistent with the palate and quite long. There’s a certain licorice and mint flavor. Some oak with a slight bitter note.

I find it a quite ballsy move to release this kind of whiskey as your first release. It’s a more ‘traditional’ flavor than is currently all the hype for Irish single malts. More malty, more sweet and less fresh and crisp than its contemporaries, this is a very interesting and unique dram.

I like the complexity, I like that the sherry cask hasn’t overpowered the whiskey. The only thing I might complain about is that it might be a tad too sweet. But even so, I find it a hugely interesting dram and, to be honest, it’s a lot better than I expected.

There’s 5000 numbered bottles of this limited edition whiskey, but I haven’t seen prices yet.

Hyde 10 years old Single Malt, President’s Cask, 46%.

Thanks to the guys at Hyde Whiskey and Hibernia Distillers for sending this sample.

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Millstone Rye, 6.5 yeard old, 43.3%, bottled for the Usquebaugh Society, 2014

Last year the Usquebaugh Society, by far the coolest whisky club in The Netherlands, bottled this six and a half years old (to the day) Millstone Rye Whisky. In March 2014 a delegation of some sixty members made the trip to Baarle-Nassau to tour the distillery and select from eight cask samples.

The choices were varied between rye and single malt whiskies and we ended up picking one of each, with the single malt only being bought per bottle based on pre-orders. Of the rye whisky we bought the entire cask (‘we’ being the Usquebaugh Society).

Zuidam is quite the experimental distillery and the single malts we picked were aged in different casks, made with different barleys (one being a chocolate malt whisky which, to be honest, was NOT my favorite…), and casked at different strengths.

This rye whisky was put in the virgin American oak barrel at 46%, to see what that did to the aging process. Therefore the 43.3% ABV is cask strength. It was aged for exactly 6.5 years, from November 30th 2007 to May 30th 2014.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

There’s a LOT of rye (it’s a 100% rye whisky), with a nice spiciness and bitter fruits. Orange and grapefruit. I also get baking spices, rye, oak, beurre noisette, cinnamon and clove.

The palate is a tad sweeter than the nose, and a bit lighter. A more crisp rye whisky with orange and rye flavors. Spices, oak, a light touch of peppery heat. Far from thin if ‘only’ 43.3%. Clove and a bit drying.

The finish is just a tad more spicy, but also more sweet. A bit more oak as well. Quite long.

I’ve had quite a couple of rye whiskies over the years, and also quite a few from Zuidam, but this might just be my favorite. A tad better than the Millstone 100 Rye I think. It’s an awesome drink with quite a lot of complexity to it.

Also, it differs enough from American rye whiskies since the maturation and distilling process is quite different (this comes from pot stills entirely).

I can’t say anything else than if you’re into rye whiskies, you should get this one. And it’s still available too! At a measly € 50!

Millstone Rye, 6.5 yeard old, 43.3%, bottled for the Usquebaugh Society, 2014. Available from the Usquebaugh Society for € 50

Disclaimer: I’m slightly biased since I helped pick this bottle and it was my favorite. I am also on the board of the Usquebaugh Society. Nevertheless, this whisky is awesome.

Posted in - Rye Whiskey, - World Whisky, Millstone, Zuidam | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Octomore 06.3, 2009-2014, 5yo, 64%, Islay Barley

It’s been ages since I tried an Octomore. Well, last November if I recall correctly. Generally they’re not my first pick when it comes to peated whisky. Actually, apart from young Ledaig, they might actually be my last pick, although I don’t care much for peated Bunna and Jura either.

It seems like I’m quite fussy about things, right? And I think I should. There’s literally thousands of whiskies available, so I think I should make sure I ruin my liver drinking the good ones. Normally, Octomore doesn’t fit that bill for the simple reason it’s just too one-dimensional in being just peaty, with that one flavor pushing out all others.

Let’s see how this one fares!

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

The peat is right up in your face after you pour the dram. Surprisingly, it’s mostly peat and barely any smoke at all. It’s quite ridiculous, actually. After the peat I get scents of heather, sand and some crisp sea breeze. Apples maybe, and a light salinity. After that everything goes numb.

The peat is still present, obviously. Not too sharp and not like 64% at all. White pepper and a strange lack of smoke again. A touch of oak, some vanilla and dryness. Arid even. The burn comes late, but it comes.

The finish is surprisingly sharp and biting. Almost painful, actually. Quite long with lots of peat.

Well, what this whisky does well is live up to expectations. It’s ridiculously peaty and the alcohol and peat levels are so far up that they don’t allow anything else to shine. While I can see the appeal of this kind of ‘gimmick’ whisky, it’s just not for me.

There’s a lot of skill involved, I think, to create a dram of this proportions and not alienate everyone who tries it. But, again, this is just not for me. I like peated whisky, but not in this one dimensional way.

So, end result: Meh. I’d not spend money on this, but I know lots of people do. Even though it seems the hype is over. My favorite Octomore still is the Orpheus.

Octomore 06.3, 2009-2014, 5yo, 64%, Islay Barley, available for £ 135 at the Green Welly Stop, or at Whisky-on-line for € 165

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Mezcal Bottle share #3: Los Danzantes and Alipus

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m doing another bottle share.

I keep finding Mezcal a hugely interesting drink. And while not even all bottles from the previous share have been reviewed yet (my to-review queue is about a mile long by now) I want to get on with sharing more.

A while ago on the spirits blog of K&L Wines in California there were a lot of posts about their trip to Oaxaca and visiting Los Danzantes distillery (distillery/palenque/whatchamaycallit). Los Danzantes seems to be awesome, and true to the ‘craft’ description.

Los Danzantes has two brands:

Los Danzantes (all made of Agave Espadin  at their distillery in Santiago Matatlan) which comes in Joven, Reposado and Anejo. So, cask aging for mezcal!
Alipus (which is a range of single village mezcals, all made from Agave Espadin, much like the ones shared from Del Maguey)

From the importer in Germany I can get three of the Los Danzantes mezcals (joven, reposado and anejo) and 5 different editions from Alipus.

If you want in on the share, (which I think you should, the stuff is awesome) it’s going to cost you € 40 for 5cl of each (40cl in total) or € 75 for 10cl (80cl in total). This is including bottles (food-grade plastic), but excluding shipping.

There might be some delay in getting the mezcals to The Netherlands, as Germany is officially not allowed to send stuff here and I have to use a ‘mule’ to get things done. Expect stuff to actually take place in about a month.

There’s 13 x 5cl available, or any combination of amounts up to 65cl. Please let me know before Monday night if you like to be in. Contrary to before, this will only happen if I sell 60cl (yes, I’m willing to go up to 10cl)

After addressing my regular cronies for sharing this stuff, there’s 20cl left.

Posted in - Other Spirits, Alipus, Los Danzantes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alacrán Mezcal Joven, 46%

This is one of the two remaining mezcals that I still needed to review from the last bottle-share. I’ve been working my way through the scraps of some of those I already reviewed for a while now and thought it was high time for getting these last two reviews out of the way.

How I got this bottle was a bit of a weird situation. I ordered the bottles for the second mezcal bottle share from a Dutch shop and on their site I found the Marca Negra Espadín and the Alacrán, of which the image also was a Marca Negra bottle. I couldn’t find any info on the second one in combination of the two names, but that has happened before if the product was fairly unknown, which mezcal is in The Netherlands.

I expected it to be some discontinued kind or so, but not a completely different brand. When the bottles arrived I was a bit disappointed so I emailed the shop. They allowed me to send it back and order something else instead, but after some asking around everybody was okay with just keeping the Alacrán, so I went with that.

Anyway, as far as I can (quickly) find out on the internet, Alacrán is a relatively new brand that’s trying to get some traction in The Netherlands with even a Dutch website. That’s not something that happens often for such small brands. They also have a tequila available which I have not tried.

The mezcal’s specifications are straight forward. No geographical indication, Agave Espadín, no wood maturation. The bottling strength is 46%, which is quite high for a regular mezcal.

It’s pretty fierce on the nose, and quite green. Mostly herbs and moss, a touch of agave. The scent is quite dirty, which is what I expect from mezcal, normally. Some diesel and engine fumes, but also a strong hint of whipped cream. Herbs, oregano, pepper, sage.

The palate is quite smooth after the nose with a light smokiness. It does build up to show some teeth after a while though. The agave is present but not too in your face, but this too gets stronger after a bit of time. Quite dry.

The finish is dry but not so dry as the palate. Herbaceous, with some leaves like the oregano and sage I got before. Tree bark, mossy. Pepper.

At first, when unpacking the box of this order I was a bit disappointed and did not have high expectations of this one. A spray-painted or dip-dyed bottle, screw cap, it looked a bit dirty. I was wrong.

The drink doesn’t show the complexity and refinement of the others I’ve had so far from both Leyenda and Del Maguey, but it sure is a tasty drink. It’s a bit of a bruiser compared to the other mezcals I’ve tried (including the yet to be reviewed Marca Negra which is a lot stronger).

The flavors are a tad simple, with no fruits as far as I can find, but they work well together. The smokiness is big enough to make an impact so you sure know it’s mezcal! Good stuff!

Alacrán Mezcal Joven, 46%, Agave Espadín. Available for € 46 at Slijterij Leiden (watch the prices, I’ve seen it in The Netherlands for almost € 60 as well)

Posted in - Other Spirits, Alacrán | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment