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7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 year years

Whisky Tasting




DEC 2007:
Big Bastard
Truly exciting, extremely rare, amazingly collectable and, err, stunningly palatable (are we good at hyperbolising things or what?), here’s...


Wonder of Wonders, Legend amongst the Legends, a fascinating and highly innovative new Spirit with an Islay heart, designed to appeal to Russian oligarchs, Chinese IT wizards and the discerning whisky enthusiast alike, already coined “the bottling of this century” by Dr. Willibald Schmitzovic, the most famous independent whisky expert in da world.

The Big Bastard, Resingled Malt Spirit, A Nonsensical Tribute To All Scots, Very Limited Edition, strictly private, only sixty 50cl bottles made, availability December 2007.
But how the hell did you manage to create such a stunning spirit?
Oh well, it’s been a very long and very complicated process. First, we gathered mature Single Malt Scotch Whisky from strictly all Scottish distilleries, including closed ones. For instance, there was some genuine Ladyburn, Glenflagler or Kinclaith, albeit only a few centilitres of each. 139 different malts have been used (including variants such as peated/non peated), the oldest ones being 50 years old, the youngest just 7. Roughly 70 litres of whisky of various strengths have been vatted.

Is that all? So it's just a 'vatting'...
Hold on, then we redistilled the whole in a genuine, state of the art 100-litre copper pot still, a true example of modern engineering, which means that we came up with a true triple-distilled Single Malt Spirit, even if the first two distillations too place at various Scottish locations.

Err, but that’s plain crazy!
Yes. And very costly, as we lost a lot of alcohol in the process. Please note that due duties and taxes have been paid on the 'raw material', so it's not only alcohol that vanished in the air but also taxes, although some may consider that that's always what happens with taxes.

How did distilling go?
Well, perfectly well, thanks to the very skilful crew that helped us. We did everything in just one run, and we were stunned by the interstellar quality of what was running out of the still, actually. As expected, fruity components ran first and oily, peaty ones last. It’s also been a good way of getting rid of all the caramel and wine that did pollute the whiskies, so to speak. We did discard the very first litre i.e. ‘the head’ actually (it seems that there were still a few naughty elements in there) and we did pour the tail into numbered bottles, which we then carefully tasted and put back into the ‘middle cut’ but only the best ones. Some were nicely peaty but also a bit ‘offbeat’ – we discarded them. We wanted something peaty but pure and we think we achieved that way beyond expectations. At the end of the day, we came up with 25 litres of spirit at roughly 70% vol.
Left to right: original vatting, remnant, new spirit ->>
Cool, but didn’t you sort of set the ages of all these wonderful whiskies’ back to zero by redistilling them?
Good question. Actually, we weren’t quite sure about what would happen but I must say the raw spirit we came up with did not smell and taste like new make, at all. It was rather matured new make, so to speak, even if we may well have lost a few years in the process. We did let some knowledgeable experts, including Scottish distillers and bottlers, taste the end result (blind of course) and they all thought that it was ten years old, more or less. Incredible but true.

Good, but what did you do next?
Our friend Olivier made some wine into a brand new small 30-litre oak cask, so that it took off all naughty components from the oak. Please note that he did not let the wine mature in the cask, he just let fermentation happen, to make sure that it sort of ‘polished’ the oak but also that it would not impart undesirable wine flavours to it. Right after distilling, we filled this little cask with the 25 litres of new make at 70% vol we had produced, and let it then mature for exactly one year in our private cellars, where temperature is cool and pretty constant. We also believe that the beautiful river that flows near our house imparted some rather maritime notes to the spirit – yes we also need a little romance.

How did the maturing process go?
Oh my God, right after two weeks, the spirit already displayed a wonderful ‘pale straw’ colour. After three months it was ‘pale gold’ and after one year it’s ‘full gold’.


Why did you decide to bottle it after only one year of cask maturing?
Well, because remember the ‘raw spirit’ was already mature and because we thought it was already very influenced by the oak and that any further ageing would make it probably overly woody. The alcohol level had dropped from 70% to 65.1% within one year, which is a good sign we've been told. We’re very pleased with the end result but we also noticed that overall complexity further improved with the addition of a little water, that's why we further reduced it using high-quality water from Watviller (totally nitrate-free), down to 53.9%, which was the point where it was at its peak we noticed.

Fabulous, but will you do it again? Will there be a Big Bastard #2?
Hmmm, probably not. Frankly, it’s excessively costly... We prefer to see all this as a single, one-off private experiment, especially since all this is maybe not 100% legal, and even if reactions have been overwhelmingly positive so far.
Thank you.
De nada. Oh, by the way, did you notice The Big Bastard's beautifully modern, state-of-the-art and McTears-ready design?
Distiller McJeanyves controls the fire
(bain-marie system)
Distiller McPhilloo pours water around the neck for better sealing.
Distiller McPhilloo and Master Distiller McJeanmich feed the beast.
Master Distiller McJeanmich completes the level before puting the hat on.
Distiller McPhilloo keeps an eye on the working still. Well, that's what he should have done.
Distiller McJeanyves checks the strength of the running spirit using an alcoholmeter.
This is what's left from the original whisky after distilling. Well...
Distiller McChrisophe is very happy with the quality of the output.
A tradition over here: oysters and white wine around 10am.
Distiller McSerge and groupie McCatherine check some wine and whisky.
Distiller McThomas says it's time to try the spirit properly.
Distillers McSerge and McChristophetwo are adding the 'good' tails litre by litre.
Label dummy #2 for The Big Bastard.
Official plan of the pot still. Is that engineering or what?
The 100-litre pot still. A whole distillery on four wheels.
Distiller McOlivier manages to save some whisky from the original vatting. Too bad.
Label dummy #1 for The Big Bastard. Discarded, there are too many bulldogs on labels.
Used packaging can make for superb outfits (headdress and earrings)
Distiller McOlivier is extremely happy with The Big Bastard.
Distillers McThomas and McJeanyves are always happy to do a bit of quality control.
Two Big Bastards in their full glory
The Big Bastard resting in demi-johns prior to bottling
Extremely rare: a full case of The Big Bastard
Two Big Bastards in fitting company (private cellar)

by Dr. Willibald Schmitzovic MW, probably the most influential name in whisky today (to ed, why 'probably'? - W.)

So much has been spoken and so much written about the best Single Malt Scotch Whiskies over the centuries that, as their originator (actually, Friar John Corr was a friend of mine and I taught him everything) and current leading light (don’t worry, I also invented sunglasses), I welcome the opportunity of adding a few words to the incredible volume that has gone before about The Big Bastard.
To tell you the truth, I was behind the original idea, just as God is behind everything. Just ask my friends Robert The Bruce and Albert Einstein, who witnessed that glorious moment in 2003 when, as I was just leaving Princess Grace of Monaco after a private lunch at the Louis XV (Grace was stunned to learn that I also invented the potato), I had this spark of genius.

Indeed, over the years, I had already invented malt whisky, grain whisky, the blend made thereof, wine finishing, new oak finishing, blended malt whisky, blended grain whisky, triple-distilled whisky, quadruple-distilled whisky, quintuple-distilled whisky and, as everybody knows, Ardbeg, but I was also perfectly aware of the fact that something was missing in the landscape. As my old chap Aeneas Coffey used to say, I was Leonardo but had yet to paint The Mona Lisa. So, as I was leaving Grace and was about to call my chauffeur, my iPhone rang (did I tell you that I also invented the iPhone?) and it was my good old friend George Walker. “Willibald, daya know what? The French, these people who don’t even have a word for entrepreneur, they won’t join us in Iraq, those bastards!” Bastards? Eureka! Yes, the whisky world just needed a true Bastard. Not just a tiny little bastard, no, a big one, a big bastard, THE Big Bastard. And believe me, this was going to scintillate.
But as my friends George Walker, Wladimir and Gengis know only too well, I’m a very busy man and so I instantly decided to call some little-known friends somewhere in Europe, whom, I was sure, would be mad enough to take up the gauntlet and to make sure that my overwhelmingly clever idea would come to light. While I was flying to Jerusalem in a private jet (I had been asked to solve the Middle-east issues), I gave them a buzz and planted the seed. ‘Thou shall redistill all Scotch malt whiskies, thou shall let the resingled aqua vitae mature for one single year and thou shall get the best spirit ever made in this galaxy, since I taught the Egyptians the art of distilling. Oh, and thou shall name it The Big Bastard.’
Needless to say that as I’m writing these lines a few years later, I’m more than happy to condescend to taste what these humble mortals have made of one of my usual brainwaves.
Colour: gold like the death mask of my good friend Manco Capac the Sun God. Not caramelised like the putrid rubbish called Cognac the French tend to make when I’m not watching.
Nose: not unlike Grauburgunder Trockenbeerenauslese but incomparably better than any Grauburgunder Trockenbeerenauslese, or so it seems as I only tried some once (in the company of the Bundeskanzler). Hints of Halle Berry’s bras, the interior of Charlie Chaplin’s Rolls-Royce, Mouton 1928 (in magnum).
Palate: royal duck blood, nightingale tongue pâté, snail penis, imperial spices and Charlize Theron’s lips.
Finish: reminding me of my good friend Carl Lewis.
Comments: no wonder this came from an idea of mine, it’s totally brilliant. Close to Latour 1945 (which I also created). Please buy my books. (100 - both my books an The Big Bastard)
Notes from the cover of Dr. Willibald Schmitzovic’s latest guide book, The Holy Book of Whisky:
“Willibald Schmitzovic is a legend and leading player on the world’s whisky stage. Where Willibald leads others tend to follow. Each drinks sector has its colossus: wine has Robert Parker, beer Michael Jackson and whisky Willibald Schmitzovic. To countless thousands Willibald Schmitzovic is the first and last name in whisky."