Calvados Week – Day 2: Château du Breuil VSOP Calvados (40%, AOC Pays d’Auge)

Logo Calvados WeekThis is the second day of the Master Quill Calvados Week. Again we’ll have a look at a product from Château du Breuil, but this time a slightly older example: the VSOP, a four-year minimum Calvados. Calvados is made from apples and/or pears. Every AOC has its specific rules of used varieties.

Château du Breuil was built in the 16th and 17th centuries and was the home of many nobilities. The Château was completely restored by its current owners who have been distilling spirits there for three generations. Château du Breuil has a large portfolio of different Calvados’. A standard range of which the Fine and VSOP are the two entry-level examples, but also a 20yo and even single cask versions exist. Last but not least a double matured 12yo version with a second maturation of six years in casks that previously held Speyside Whisky.

Chateau du Breuil VSOPColor: Light gold, almost gold.

Nose: Obvious apple. Apple compote, apple skins and also the fleshy part of apples (that has turned brown), are in here. Even the heart of an apple is in here. Whiffs of Gewürztraminer fly by. Also other notes can be picked up. A hint of dry and elegant oak, but also the spiciness of oak. A hint of red wax seal. Pancakes with syrup. When given some time, the in-your-face fruitiness takes the back seat and lets the more woody and austere parts shine. Dusty. Yes, it’s getting better now, more balanced and perfumy. A grown up version, well maybe not completely grown up, but a more adolescent version compared to yesterday’s Fine from the same Château.

Taste: Candied apple and toffee. Less sweet than expected. A real distillate all right. Overall quite light and appetizing. Young. Warming. Warm toffee and candied fruits with a backbone of soft apple skin, without most of its bitterness. Warm sugar-water. White grapes. The faint bitterness that is always present in this VSOP, gets more pronounced towards the finish, up to a point it overpowers the fruitiness. Maybe it doesn’t overpower, but is most definitely has more staying power of all the aroma’s.

If you like your Calvados fruity and very much oozing of apple, get Chateau du Breuil. But don’t think you are getting a simple carton of apple-juice you give your kids to school each day. Already this VSOP is giving a lot more, compared to yesterday’s Fine, but it also is more bitter. Calvados turns out to be a decent distillate, which has a lot to offer. I really look forward to the rest of this week.

Points: 71

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Akashi 5yo ‘White Oak’ (45%, OB, 500 ml)

Next up a Japanese 5yo Single Malt Whisky from the Eigashima Distillery. Please don’t confuse this with the 5yo Akashi “Blended Whisky”. This peculiar blend is not a blend as we know it. The Malt Whisky isn’t blended with Grain Whisky but with a Spirit. The Malt Whisky itself is not only Malt Whisky from Eigashima, but also contains imported Whisky. Altogether there is 34% Malt Whisky in this Blend. The Spirit part (66%) is made with Spirit from molasses, partly barrel aged. There is some controversy about the Spirit used, and calling this a Blended Whisky. Alas no controversy about our 5yo Single Malt. Besides both 5yo Whiskies, there is also a 12yo Akashi Single Malt. Code on the inside of the front label is: 112102.

Akashi 5yo 'White Oak' (45%, OB)Color: Gold, with a tinge of ocher (dandruff)

Nose: Worcestershire sauce. lactic acid and right after that virgin oak and cigarette tobacco. Cooled off warm milk. Extremely funky and yeasty. This Whisky oozes aroma, and you have to sniff it all out to get to the woody part and the feeling you are nosing a Single Malt Whisky. Warm dry forest floor and the fruitiness comes from ripe apple skins. This apple note is connected to a powdered sugar sensation. For best results let this breathe for a while. Small hints of menthol and spicy wood tends to play a greater role.

Taste: Extremely malty and after that paper and oak. Dried leaves. Some sweetness from sweet tree sap (I imagine). Very naturally occurring sweetness like stevia. The wood becomes slightly bitter and next comes a slightly peppery attack. Tiny hint of burnt plastic and the bitterness stays. It tastes a bit like sake. The finish disintegrates leaving you with the bitterness and a funky kind of acidity, in part cow dung. The finish is definitely the weakest point of this Whisky.

Very simple, immature and straightforward Whisky, that doesn’t come to us without flaws. Some strange aroma’s in here that to me seem like distillation faults. Having said that I don’t dislike this, but I most definitely like the first half better than the last half.

Points: 71

Partagás de Luxe

…some sunshine, and another chance to finally review another cigar that is with me for quite some time, and thus had the chance to age properly.

Don Jaime Partagás y Ravelo, from Spain, started his own cigar factory named Partagás in 1845. Not much later he was murdered, over… a woman. You’ve guessed it. Partagás was also the first place to have the famous lector. A lector is the person who reads to the workers, from newspapers to good novels. Usually the workers themselves take turns in reading. Partagás is a very big and popular Cuban brand, know to be quite heavy, so not a brand you’ll start with when you are a novice. Note: The Partagás de Luxe was a machine-made cigar up to 2002. Now its a hand-made cigar.

Cuban Partágas de Luxe (40 x 140 mm, Crema, Corona, Box Code LWI SEP 05)

Color and Looks: Colorado, no big veins and rustic looking. The wrapper is ultra thin almost translucent (when warm) and fragile. The one I smoked had some frays at its foot, but it was the only one in the box, so no worries. When holding it, it seems to me it has no weight.

A cru: Woody, soapy and grassy. The foot smells more like hay and leather. Draw just ok, a bit heavy, which I didn’t expect, since its light weight.

Taste: Burns well, good rich smoke. Lots of wood that stings on the palate. It also has all the traits of wood. The spiciness, the sourness, like oak has in some whiskies. The build quality is very high. The ash from the wrapper and binder is white, the filler is gray and black. The ash has millions of tiny dots, that weren’t to visible in it’s a cru state. The wood also shows some cedar now. The taste is very simple and seems to evolve hardly.

Although its woody and dry, it doesn’t seem as strong as I thought, but when combined with double roasted coffee, the coffee seems watery! After 3 centimetres it does get better, some grass is added to the taste. Still very uncomplex but a good friend nevertheless. Ash is firm and fell off three times.

The soapyness gets more and more “there” and is something you’ll want to “away”. Fortunately since this didn’t go well with coffee, it goes well with carbonized water. (This time I had some de-ironed mineral water from France). I won’t be running out to buy a new box of these. There isn’t a lot happening, but what’s there is nice. The build is very good and the draw turned out to be very easy. It didn’t weigh a lot and therefore it burned pretty quick. The black band was glued to the cigar and can’t be removed without ruining the cigar. Unfortunately this band sat quite high, so the end came even sooner. Short spicy, woody and alas soapy smoke.

Points: 71

Short Stories: Klug Gewurztraminer 2009

Caves Klug Gewurztraminer 2009, ABV 13%, Bennwhir, Alsace

Color: White Wine.

Nose: Lychee, thin exotic Gewurztraminer nose, citrussy, all very subdued.

Taste: Very thin, some lychee and dried apricots, typical Gewurztraminer yet very light. Don’t give it to children it still is 13%! Decent lemonade for in the summer, not with food. Even boiled rice would overpower it.

Won a gold medal at the 2010 grand concours des vins d’Alsace in Colmar. Well that’s possible. But it must have been in the el cheapo category. It’s definitively ok, but very very simple. Get a chilled bottle, put a straw in it and take five minutes on a park bench in the sun. So it does have a purpose, and hey, it still brings me back to the region. Flammenkuchen anyone?

Points: 71