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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

December 27, 2020



A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!


Yet another loco hotchpotch tasting around the world
(today Italy, France, and UK)

Strange and stranger spirits, seen from a malt whisky enthusiast’s point of view. Never forget about that part. Hope we'll find proper malternatives...

Grappa di Ribolla Gravner (51%, Capovilla, Italy, +/-2012)

Grappa di Ribolla Gravner (51%, Capovilla, Italy, +/-2012) Four stars
Ribolla is a white grape while Gravner is a famous (didn’t know him though) winemaker in Friuli. Capovilla works within the Velier tribe – have to say some recent societal statements by them on FB have shocked me a little bit, but it’s true that lockdown has taken its toll on many good people, and that we all get older. This will pass. Colour: white. Nose: nice grappa, with touches of caramel and butterscotch, which usually come with wood. But there isn’t any wood here. Sultanas, touches of soft earth, white asparagus, hints of lime, fir buds… With water: wonderful precision. More white asparagus plus bush peaches and some tobacco. Mouth (neat): really excellent, grapey and grassy, rather closer to some Marc de Bourgogne, with this grittiness that we all love so much. Do they de-stem these grappas or not? Very very good. With water: even better. Earth and herbs coming out, always a great sign. Finish: long and akin to the best French marcs. Jura, Champagne, Bourgogne, Alsace… Comments: loved this one.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

La Trentina ‘Grappa Morbida’ (41%, OB, Marzadro, Italy, +/-2019)

La Trentina ‘Grappa Morbida’ (41%, OB, Marzadro, Italy, +/-2019)
From Trentin! This is grappa of muscat, chardonnay and gewurztraminer, ‘typical of the region‘ (WTF?) according to their website, aged for a few months in wood. Which, in my book, almost never works. Vanilla kills. Colour: pale white wine. Only the bottle is dark. Nose: extremely fruity, this is almost a fruit salad. Slices of pears, apples, melons, muscat grapes and peaches in light honey and cane syrup. A nice, very easy nose. Mouth: oh no, they added a lot of sugar, which makes the arrival clumsy and cloying. I can’t quite stand this, really a shame since the nose was really pleasant. Finish: short, sugary, unpleasant. Comments: rather a liqueur than grappa. Does ‘morbida’ mean that it would kill you?
SGP:820 - 30 points.

Esprit de Bière (40%, OB, Nussbaumer, France, +/-2015)

Esprit de Bière (40%, OB, Nussbaumer, France, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
Some Alsatian spirit from the village of Steige. Actually, they make this exactly like whisky, meaning that they distil some beer twice, in this case Weissbeer, taking their time because of the foaming. No soap added! And they need no oak either… Colour: white. Nose: so light, lovely, fruity, lemony and earthy. You would almost believe this is a blend of gentian and lemon liqueur, while a delicate beerness adds depth and freshness at the same time. But we agree, it’s on the palate that things will really happen… Mouth: it’ rather some kind of gin, really. No sugar added this time, rather notes of juniper berries (where do those come from?) and pear eau-de-vie. It’s a pleasant spirit. Finish: medium, soft, fresh, I’m sure you could use this s a bitter. Perhaps in… beer. Comments: this one’s called ‘boisson spiritueuse’, so ‘spirit’, while earlier batches were still labelled as ‘eau de vie’. But rules got tougher, eau-de-vie has become an appellation, just like rum (I am joking, sadly).
SGP:640 - 78 points.

Remember we had some Quitte/quince the other day? Let’s have more…

Coing Gayral (45%, OB, Distillerie Gayral, France, +/-2017)

Coing Gayral (45%, OB, Distillerie Gayral, France, +/-2017)
These good people are located in Aveyron, which is in the middle of nowhere, really (bang, a few more friends lost forever). Coing means quince. I’m glad they chose to bottle at 45% vol., they’re smart in Aveyron! (great, our friends are back). Colour: white. Nose: crazy and sour, a tad buttery, with notes of vegetables (mashed turnips) rather than fruits and, really, and I’m not making this up, big notes of baiju. Proper madness, you could also almost believe this is some Glen Albyn new make. Mouth: what is this? Soap, rotting fruits, stewed parsnips… Now I can see where all this is coming from, since quinces do not always display ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ aromas, but that is exactly why making proper quince eau-de-vie is an art. Finish: rather long, a little better, but too hot and indefinite. And too soapy. Comments: only on a ton of ice, this. Looks like our friends in Averyon fell into the trap. I doubt they’ll ever come back.
SGP:640 - 60 points.

Why not a little absinth again? Wasn’t absinth all the rage fifteen years ago?

Absinthe ‘Abisinthe’ (45%, OB, Lemercier, France, +/-2010)

Absinthe ‘Abisinthe’ (45%, OB, Lemercier, France, +/-2010) Three stars
This one’s aged for nine months in demi-johns. Is it the real deal? Not too sure… Having said that, Lemercier are located in Fougerolles in Haute-Saône, which isn’t that far from Alsace. It’s one of the French capitals of distillation, mind you! I really need to get to Fougerolles one day, hope they have a nice wee hotel down there… Colour: white. Nose: we’re very far from the complexity of the Swiss ‘Ça C’en Est’ that we tried the other day, this is more akin to a mentholy pastis by a large maker, Pernod-style. But don’t get me wrong, it’s most pleasant, fresh and full of star anise and fennel. Mouth: nothing to complain about. Aniseed, fennel seeds, liquorice, notes of cedarwood, cinnamon, and perhaps contemporary chartreuse… With water: does not get cloudy at all. A little more lemon and earth. Finish: long, clean, like a better pastis. Comments: some ups and some downs, but as a lover of anything aniseed, I do clap my hands (watch your glass, S.)
SGP:371 - 80 points.

Château du Breuil 'Fine Calvados' (40%, OB, Calvados, Pays d’Auge, France, +/-2018)

Château du Breuil 'Fine Calvados' (40%, OB, Calvados, Pays d’Auge, France, +/-2018) Two stars
I already tried this entry-level Calvados a few years ago and was underwhelmed. I’ll have to work on my Calvados one day, perhaps go to Normandy with friends and plunder the region, why not… By the way, calvados is distilled cider, aged in oak. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah, artisan cider and rye beer. Very simple, but not unpleasant at all. No deviant or foul notes here. Mouth: sweet, with some sweet cider and some raisins, plus a little aniseed. It’s unusual, and would probably need a few ice cubes. Finish: medium, with more cider. In a way, it would never lose its path. Comments: I may have been a little harsh with y 65 point, back in 2014. I could down 5cl of this when good friends are around and we have a lot to talk about
SGP:460 - 70 points.

Liqueur du Père Bertrand (38%, OB, Bertrand, France, +/-2017)

Liqueur du Père Bertrand (38%, OB, Bertrand, France, +/-2017) Three stars
The distillerie Bertrand is located in the north of Alsace. They also make a whisky called Uberach, with a very talented and most friendly master distiller/blender/whatever called Jean Metzger. One of the shining stars of French whisky, and an all-round good chap. Now this might be something else… Colour: blush wine. Really. Nose: Aperol spritz, ginger tonic, cologne, orange peel, Campari. Get the drift? Mouth: sugared-up, but with manners. I’m not against this, really. Blood oranges, sweet ginger, tonic water, cinchona, grenadine and cranberry juice. I find this good despite the heavy proportions of saccharose. Finish: medium, sweet, orange-y. Comments: very smart, certainly better than Cointreau or Grand-Marnier. We could all guzzle hectolitres when enough ice is involved. Very well done Bertrand, I’ll buy a bottle or three for the poolside!
SGP:830 - 80 points.

Didn’t we say ‘ten’?

Eau de Vie de Vieille Prune (40%, OB, Castan, +/-2015)

Eau de Vie de Vieille Prune (40%, OB, Castan, +/-2015) Four stars
Eau de vie de vieille prune or vielle eau de vie de prune ? Whatever, let’s taste this baby, old prune can be an hidden gem, really. By the way prune in French means plum, and certainly not ‘prune’, which is called ‘pruneau’ in French. It all happens in the South-West of France anyway. Colour: pale gold. Nose: good prune (plum) always has this fermentary side that we’ll also find in, say Korean or Japanese plum wine (umeshu). It is totally the case here, with notes of old wine, old hard cheeses, and simply plums (Ente or Agen). I have to say I rather love this nose. Mouth: oh very good! Grassy, dry, on spices and earths, with once again these notes of old hard cheeses (Comté, mimolette and friends). It’s not only about ‘stupid’ plums here, it’s a spirit that’s got its own complexities. Like whisky and barley, right. Finish: long, lovely, grassy, dry, complex. Comments: yep, vieille prune is a thing. Not that we’ve tried many, and we sure won’t kickstart right tomorrow, but I’m sure you see what I mean. Worth checking out.
SGP:371 - 85 points.

That’s eight. Another vieille prune please…

Vieille Prune ‘25’ (40%, OB, Hepp, France, +/-2018)

Vieille Prune ‘25’ (40%, OB, Hepp, France, +/-2018) one star and a half
This one’s made in northern Alsace, but not too sure about what that big bold ‘25’ means. It cannot be an age statement, can it? Probably some kind of anniversary. Oh and it’s to be noted that ‘prune’ is different from ‘quetsche’ in Alsace, they’re not quite the same kinds of plums. By the way, the Hepp Distillery is famous for its ‘Johnny Hepp’ whisky, yes we’ve got a certain sense of humour in Alsace. Colour: white wine. Nose: a dry and grassy plum, and a light background. Not too sure this far… Mouth: it’s okay, grassy, a tad too leafy for me, dry. Not much pleasure to be had here. Finish: medium, a little thin, but with solid ‘prune-y’ flavours. Comments: it’s okay, but it does not really provoke great tastebud enthusiasm... I think we could live without this little prune from Uberach (nothing to do with the Distillerie Uberach – but don’t ask).
SGP:341 - 68 points.

Hey, why not a funny gin as #10?

McQueen ‘Batch 1’ (42%, That Boutique-y Gin Company, 665 bottles, +/-2018)

McQueen ‘Batch 1’ (42%, That Boutique-y Gin Company, 665 bottles, +/-2018)
This is some chocolate-orange gin, and some London dry gin at the same time, made by kings of SEO Master of Malts or sub-companies. Terra totally incognita to me, but you learn every day and at any age, don’t you? Learn or die, as the acculturated woodlouse in D.C. should understand. Colour: white. Nose: no it’s fine and fresh. Were I into gin, I’d like this. Lemon peel, juniper, coriander, and no chocolate that I can smell. My bad, I suppose… Mouth: fine-ish but unprecise, and a little wishy-washy. Oh I know nothing about gin anyway, better ask our good friends Joel and Neil, they’re the experts. But I find this palate pretty disappointing, dry and empty. Finish: medium, nice for a few seconds, then weakfish. Coriander and fennel. Comments: I shan’t remember this humble little spirit forever. Remember what, by the way?
SGP:230 - 62 points.








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