Tag Archives: french

Vicomte Cask Strength Single Malt Review

Producer: Vicomte/Venturi Brands. Distiller: undisclosed. Region:Poitou-Charentes, France. ABV: 67.8%. Age: nine years.

Vicomte Single Malt’s standard 8-year-old release was a very pleasant surprise for me last year. It’s made in France’s Cognac region from organic local barley, and aged in first-fill cognac barrels. It was among the best French malts I’ve tried–my only quibble was with the somewhat underpowered 40% ABV.

Problem solved. Vicomte’s new Cask Strength adds another year of age and dials the intensity up to a massive 67.8% ABV. Naturally, that gives you all the room in the world to dial in your ideal strength, or serves as a very potent cocktail base.

The whisky is distilled from all-organic French barley from Poitou-Charentes. It’s a dram full of overripe fruit, chocolate-covered cherries, and old-school candy shop sweets, though the oak and spice balance them well. The nose also has hints of peppermint candy, pound cake, and young leather. The palate has strong cherry notes–maraschino cherries, sour cherries in syrup, even Cherry coke–but with the sweetness well under control, even at full strength. The spice emerges through the medium-long finish.

Vicomte Cash Strength is currently in 22 states, with more to come. If you’re cognac-minded or looking to explore more Continental single malts, check it out.

Cheers, friends! – BO

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Vicomte Single Malt Whisky Review

Producer: Vicomte. Distiller: undisclosed. ABV: 40%. Age: 8 years. Price: $40.

Much as I love Scotch, I’m always eager to try single malts from around the world–especially when they bring not just variety and novelty appeal, but genuine deliciousness. Vicomte French Single Malt absolutely fits the bill.

Double-distilled on copper pot stills from organic barley from Poitou-Charentes. Eight years old, aged in ex-Cognac barrels. Fairly priced at around $40, and one stunning package.

Nose: lovely round overripe fruit basket to start. Cognac notes familiar from the Brenne French single malt, but without that troublesome bubblegum note that spoils the party for some folks. Morello cherries. Rum-soaked plum.

Palate: Demerara sugar and fermented fruits–recalls the delicious Balvenie 14 Carribean Cask, but with some oak tannins containing the sweetness. A bit more black cherry. Finish: grilled peaches and a very appealing prickle of spice.

I’ll make my inevitable cry of “my kingdom for 3-6% more ABV,” but even at 40% ABV, the Victomte has plenty going on. (And the company has hinted that a cask strength bottling may be on the way…here’s hoping.) Cognac-curious Scotch lovers and Scotch-curious cognac lovers alike should check it out.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Vicomte graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Brenne French Single Malt Whisky Review

Brenne French Single Malt – Producer: Brenne. ABV: 40%. No age statement (estimated 6-8 years). Price: $55-60.

Brenne 10 French Single Malt – Producer: Brenne. ABV: 48%. Age: 10 years. Price: $80-90.

The Brenne French Single Malt is the passion project of NY-based Francophile and former ballerina Allison Patel. It’s a light, fruity, approachable, cognac-finished malt that’s brought many non-single malt drinkers into the category. It’s not for everyone–some detect a bubblegum note that for them is a dealbreaker–but it has lots of fans, and you’ve got to admire Allison’s drive and success thus far.

The whisky is distilled by a cognac maker from all local organic barley, aged in French limousin oak barrels, then finished in fresh cognac barrels. The first time I had the standard release at a tasting it was floral, with perfumed malt and stewed apple on the nose. It had a round and not overly sweet palate with the cognac profile bringing some of the tropical overtones of the Balvenie Carribean Cask. The body was quite light with some Stranahan’s-ish banana on the finish. Quite enjoyed it.

The following night I had a pour from another bottle, and all the notes I’d enjoyed were overwhelmed by liquid bubblegum. With time in the glass it only got stronger. Strange! The Whiskey Jug suspects it’s the limousin oak, though either way, the bottle-to-bottle variation suggests there may be a batch consistency issue.

If you’re already a Brenne fan, or want to try the brand  at its best, the new (as of January 2016) 10-year-old bottling is the way to go. The extra age and higher proof – 48% rather than the 40% – bring more depth, texture, oak, and tropical fruit, especially pineapple.

Brenne’s in 30 states so far, and with Allison making converts everywhere she goes, I’m sure it’ll be in more soon. Cheers, friends! -BO

Buy Brenne French Single Malt online at Mash + Grape

Michel Couvreur Peaty Overaged Malt Whisky Review

2015 Axis of WhiskyFest Tasting no. 7. Michel Couvreur Peaty Overaged Malt Whisky. 43% ABV. 12 years old.

If there was a standout at inaugural Axis of WhiskyFest, this was it.  A sherried blend by recently departed Belgian legend Michel Couvreur,  who took new make spirit from top Scottish single malt distillers,  then aged them in his hand-picked sherry casks in caves he dug in Burgundy.

They might have been lost with his untimely passing in 20014, had his protege not taken up the task and started releasing them to selected sellers — including the unsurpassable K&L Wines.

Huge sweet creamy unfiltered mix of peat and sherry. The latter, from fresh Jerez casks Couvreur picked himself in Spain, takes the lead. Like a sherried pre-closing Bruichladdich? A peated ultrarich Macallan? Whatever it is, it’s damn good.

Hats off to Couvreur and K&L — in this and all things. -BO