Michel Couvreur Special Vatting Peaty Malt Whisky (700ml)

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Michel Couvreur Special Vatting Peaty Malt Whisky (700ml)

Burgundy, FRANCE
$260.00 Bottle
  • ABV 45%

Tasting note: A vatting of three single cask 12 year old Scotch whiskies. Deep brassy gold colour. A gentle prickle accompanies the vaguely cereal / dried grass notes with low key peat slowly building. Nice texture - plenty of richness at mid palate. A whisper of smoke develops towards the finish adding an attractive briney, creamy, Caol Ila-like finale that also gives length. Marketed as "peaty" but it's fairly restrained as far as the smokey genre goes. 45% Alc./Vol.

Other reviews...Colour: full gold. Nose: completely different. Wild flowers, verbena, fresh mint and lemon balm. Truly beautiful nose this time. Rather extreme notes of menthol. Mouth: again, there’s a lot of wood here. Huge tannins, grape pips, apple skin and lemon zest. Yet, the spirit stands it. Crystallised lemons, mint, lemon pie. Finish: long, maybe just a tad cardboardy now. Comments: my favourite so far – and by far – despite the heavy oakiness (not a flaw at all here). 85 points - Serge Valentin, whiskyfun.com

...The nose opens with a somewhat mossy spice and beautiful herbal notes. Bright red fruits and a light brine note tinges the whisky. The sweetness of the whisky is reminiscent of grass and hay, with a nutty tone on the back-end. The moss rises once again, a faint reminder that this whisky is peaty, however slightly. Opening the palate the whisky lends a prickly mouth-feel before moving onto tangy wood and a musty, old bung cork taste. As you continue to taste there's a somewhat nutty and stewed mushroom taste that comes back bringing an earthy reminder of peat with it. The finish is sweet, lightly smoked, and musty. - distiller.com

Burgundy is a place full of personalities at the high end of the passion scale, especially when it comes to food and drink - perhaps none more so than a Belgian who is presently maturing Scotch Whisky in the heart of the famous French wine region. The fellow in question is Michel Couvreur, and he's a man on a mission when it comes to Scotch Whisky.

Entering from the wine trade, his is an increasingly familiar story within the whisky industry. He'd already established a business in the early 1950s in Scotland selling Burgundy wines when in 1978, French friends suggested that he add a top quality Scotch to his portfolio. So began Couvreur’s interest in the whisky industry from which he developed his ultra-traditionalist perspective on oak. He maintains (more radically than others in the industry) that 90% of a whisky’s quality comes from the cask, and only 10% of the quality comes from the distillation process. In the 1970s, American bourbon casks gradually replaced port and sherry casks for the maturation of Scotch whisky, a great tragedy, according to Couvreur, as it changed the essence of a product that had European barrels at its core.

In a personal crusade, Couvreur settled in Bouze-les-Beaune (close to the Burgundian town of Beaune, France), where he opened a customs bonded cellar and began selecting his own sherry casks (Pedro Ximenez and Palomino) from the Andalusia region of Spain. Some readers will be aware, since the 1970's, sherry ceased to be shipped to UK in wood. Whisky producers have now to go and select their casks at sherry bodegas, paying a premium on top of transport costs. It's partly for this reason that Michel Couvreur's cellar is located in Burgundy, half-way between Scotland and Andalusia, with straight motorways from Jerez de la Frontera to Beaune.

Courveur's "Scotch" starts out in Scotland as bulk a.k.a.“clearach” (a high proof distillate) which is transferred to his humid cellar in Bouze-les-Beaune to be aged in small sherry casks that have been impregnated with 25 years aging via traditional soleras. All required dilutions are accomplished with bottled water from Scotland. Total production is about 50,000 bottles or 4,000 cases annually.