Which whisky to choose for Christmas?
Hello to all! Christmas is slowly coming and with it… The preparation of the end of year gifts. Around me, my friends’ questions are multiplying: “I’d like to offer a whisky to my godfather but I don’t know anything about it, can’t you give me some advice?”, or, “Great, you’ve released Aux Particules Vines #5, but I’m confined to the Aubrac, what do you say for my brother?
So, considering the quantity of whiskies on the market, and the impossibility to taste them in this period, I will launch into a small guide. You’ll have a few things to consider when choosing your holiday gift bottles!
Historical parenthesis, the acqua ardens.
I can’t repeat it enough, French whisky, in full boiling, has all the characteristics to impose itself as a must-have. The distillation is perfectly mastered in France, and we are even the instigators. Moreover, the use of the expression “eau ardente”, ancestor of alcohol of distillation, dates from the XIIIth century, and emanates from the pen of MEDICIN ARNAUD DE VILLENEUVE ; in his antidote books.
“Among the medicines, some are distilled; from an old red wine, aqua ardens is distilled, which strongly removes paralysis, diminishes plethora and quickly heals recent wounds…” (Arnaud de Villeneuve, Antidotarium, fol. 245va).
It would seem that the FIRST DISTILLATES WERE FRENCH, and close to the technique of elaboration of cognacs and armagnacs, of wine distillates. This digression is to tell you that we have been distilling for a long time, and better than anyone else, the essential French-made eaux de vie: cognac and armagnac, but also calvados, pommeau, rum, fruit and plant spirits… The list is long.
You’ve got it… Buy French whisky!
In addition to this know-how, there is the EXCEPTIONAL PRODUCTION in terms of quality and volume of grain in France, which can be malted on the spot; the abundant springs, and the multiplication of MASTER DISTILLERS who all reinterpret the whisky as they see fit, for an exceptional diversity. What more could you ask for? Offer. From. Whiskey. French.
A tailor-made whisky: Novice or experienced consumer?
Depending on the tasting experience of consumers, certain taste characteristics will be more sought after or valued. To put it simply, CONSUMER NOVICES, who are just beginning to educate their palate, will generally be sensitive to primary aromas (floral, fruity, vegetal) and secondary (brioche, pastry), easy to identify, and often GOURMANDS AND VIVIFIANTS, charming the palate without destabilizing it. On the other hand, tasters with more experience will value the AROMATIC COMPLEXITY of contemplative whiskies: that make you think, often with rather tertiaryflavours (woody, spicy, peaty, smoky) brought by the maturation or the type of malt used.
SUGGESTIONS FOR A NOVICE CONSUMER : (From a) Verre Printanier, notes of pear, mirabelle plum, cut grass and fresh cereal or Aveux Gourmands, gourmand, as its name suggests, with notes of salted butter caramel, roasted pineapple and dried fruit. With an invigorating saline touch!
SUGGESTIONS FOR AN ADVANCED CONSUMER : Aux Particules Vines #5, an outpouring of spices, dried rose petals and sandalwood, vinous power and rare aromatic complexity; or (D’un) Spring glass. And yes, here too! Close to the initial distillate, it changes the beaten tracks of whisky, a small UFO more than pleasant.
A sparsely stocked bar or an extensive collection?
The choice of a whisky is often complicated when you are dealing with collectors: fear of duplication, of a whisky with characteristics close to those already present in the bar… Here, French whisky can help! Thanks to its variety, its small and innovative production, it offers many rare, local nuggets. For these enthusiasts, look for a limited edition, small production whisky. This will have a small effect. On the other hand, for those who are starting their bar, you can offer a classic, which can open up a category of whiskies: an ageing in ex-Pedro Jimenez casks (like our Fin de Partie) with gourmand and smoky notes, or a first whisky aged in red wine or Sauternes casks could be ideal to start a collection.
SUGGESTIONS FOR A CONSUMER BEGINNING HIS BAR: End of Game. Blended from five different casks, including Pedro Jimenez and Olorosso, it develops pastry, cooked fruit and light smoke aromas. Aux Particules Vines #4 could also be a great entry point for whiskies finished in red wine barrels, with its controlled power and red fruit notes.
SUGGESTIONS FOR A WELL FILLED BAR CONSUMER: Uisce de Profundis. Feel free to visit our site to learn more about this adventure. A world exclusive, the first whisky to be aged underwater! More than salty, more than iodized, it is a uniqueode to the sea. Contact us for more information! On a more reasonable budget, Aux Particules Vines #5 will do the trick: barley and buckwheat, finished in Saint-Estèphe. A marvel of complexity.
Drinking as an aperitif or at the end of a meal?
Here, it is the textures of the whiskies that are questioned: fresh whiskies, remaining on the top of the palate, will be perfect for whet the appetite and prepare the taste buds for the meal. The other way around, the enveloping and warm whiskies, often a little more powerful, will close this one wonderfully.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE APERIOD: (From a) Spring glass. Freshness and lightness. To invite the ocean to your table before serving seafood, it is naturally Uisce de Profundis who will be your client, transporting you on occasion twenty thousand leagues under the sea.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE END OF THE GAME… End of the Game. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Aux Particules Vines #4 will also charm your guests at the end of the meal. You can almost serve it blind. As it does not fit into the standards of whiskies, some guests might be mistaken for an aged fruit brandy.
Staying classic, or looking for originality?
SUGGESTIONS FOR A CLASSIC CONSUMER: Endgame. A magnificent interpretation of a classic whisky, French style! For smokers, it is said to be wonderful with a cigar.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE CONSUMER IN SEARCH OF NEW PRODUCTS: Naturally, for the curious and adventurous gourmet, Uisce de Profundis. An extraordinary experience, almost indescribable, always striking, fascinating and above all, pleasant. Aux Particules Vines #5 is also perfect here: from the buckwheat from Brittany,barley from Lorraine ; a big gap from east to west for a tasting with unique notes and a tannic power close to the wine of Bordeaux, where this blended whisky comes from… Which leads us to the last question of this guide.
An existential question, single malt or blend?
Often, whisky consumers favour the purchase of single malt. These are indeed considered by the majority as the most QUALITATIVE whiskies . Even if this reasoning seems well-founded (the world’s greatest whiskies being single malt), it is not entirely universal.
And why not a blend? The work of the House of Benjamin Kuentz is a work of taste. To do this, the selection of whiskies is a major part of the work. Since its creation, the house has never set aside the possibility of blending French whiskies of different origins, from different distillers and even from different grains. This action, if the selection of these malt spirits is done on distillates of irreproachable quality, only allows to increase the complexity of the blended whisky: search for a balance between two complementary visions of malt. And this work has just seen the light of day with our latest edition of Particles Vines!
SUGGESTIONS FOR A SINGLE MALT DEFENDANT: an exceptional blend! Aux Particules Vines #5 is made from Breton buckwheat and Lorraine barley, all finished in the cask of a grand cru, Château Lafon-Rochet. A blend that will make most single malt producers in France and abroad jealous! So much for these lines of thought. I hope these have helped you! Also keep in mind that, generally speaking, any gift given out of the goodness of your heart is especially appreciated. We’ll meet again next week, and we’ll take a look at the malt and whisky making process. End of sidebar!