Michel Couvreur Special Vatting (45%, 3 Distinct Single Malt Barrels aged over 10 years, L005)

Michel Couvreur CaveMichel still had his house in Bouze-les-Beaune and returned there in 1978. Behind the house he dug out a new cellar in the hillside, making it a center for importing good Sherry casks from spain (to the south of where he was), and Whisky (from the north). One of his cellars is pretty humid, with natural water running down the walls, I’m not even mentioning here what grows on the walls! The first cellar that lies between the house and the rest of the underground complex is drier and is where all the casks are stored (see picture above). Visiting there some time ago, I saw some nice casks of Sherried 1981 Brora (which I got to taste) and a 1969 and some seventies Springbank. If Michel thought the Whisky had matured enough, he transferred the Whisky to large glass bottles and stored them in dark passageways. On August 17, 2013 Michel left for the big distillery in the sky at the age of 85 years.

Michel Couvreur Special VattingColor: Murky orange brown.

Nose: Beautiful full Sherried nose, like the best of them all: old Macallan. Creamy and fruity. Vanilla and Ice-cream. All the best from Sherry but without its harshness, and without its sulphur. Full and elegant Sherry aroma, but very light. It doesn’t leap out of the glass at you. Mocha and soft and squishy wet wood. Fruity candy again. Licorice and a green and leafy note. Honey and young creamy Edam cheese.

Taste: Initially sweet Sherry, but eventually drier than expected. Quite some heavy Sherry aroma. A bit like one of the best A’bunadh’s with some water. Given some time the sweetness develops into a honeyed sweetness. Although Michel is never connected to much with Oloroso, it does have a lot of traits from Oloroso casked Whisky, like A’bunadh. Sweet and dry at the same time. Quite some oak hides behind the Sherry. The oak comes through and is easily recognizable by the bitterness it gives off, making the Sherry-ness transparent. A sort of hoppy bitterness with ashes. Funky! (But not funky Sherry). Tastewise a bit unbalanced.

This one I would have liked to try at an ever higher strength. For me this example smells better than it actually tastes. It has a kind of bitterness that lasts into the finish, I’m not so keen about. Lovely nose though. A good Whisky but I liked the previous example a little better.

Points: 82

Michel Couvreur Malt Whisky (43%, Distilled and aged over 12 years in Scotland, L002)

Michel CouvreurMichel Couvreur was born in Belgium. He came to Burgundy in 1951 to market wine, but also to make wine. He did that untill 1978. Through all of his life, Michel had a passion for production methods, and not only for Wines. Michel travelled to England and Scotland for the Wine trade and there came in contact with Whisky. He moved first to England in 1956 (in the same year he acquired the cellars of Molet) and subsequently moved to Scotland in 1964. In 1971 he left again and moved his Wine trade to Canada (untill 1978). In Scotland (in 1986 at Edradour) he studied the production methods for Whisky, amongst others, focussing on different kinds of Barley and forging a love for Sherry casks that once held Pedro Ximénez and Palomino Fino. Michel claimed that 90% of the quality of the end-product comes from the cask used, and a mere 10% by the distillate itself. Here we’ll try an example of one of Michels Whiskies. Sourced from Scotland, peated, reduced with imported water from Scotland, and matured in good Sherry Casks.

Michel Couvreur Malt WhiskyColor: Copper orange glow. Unfiltered.

Nose: Malty and Sherried. Sweet and fruity. Small hints of cask toast and oak. (this also comes from the peated barley). Definite vanilla. A very quiet malt. Dusty and powdery, again a bit sweetish with fruity Sherry. Candied and very likeable. Fresh fruity and no sulphur. Tawny Port. Smelling this it almost seems like modern Sherry cask are somehow fake (a part is “treated”, so in fact they are).

Taste: Sweet fruity and Sherried. Vanilla and the sweetness is replaced with a prickly infused smoke and subsequently, a slightly acidic fruity note replaces that. All the time a slightly oaky backbone is omnipresent as some sort of background noise. In the finish this noise turns into a slight bitter edge combined with nice blackcurrant candy. This is peated, but probably not a lot, since this is no way a world domination by Dr. Peat. Good balance between the smoky prickly part and the sweet Sherry.

Don’t be fooled by the peat mentioned on the label. Although present, it acts more like a vessel for delivering some prickly smoke than a peaty flavour itself. This is a bottling that is about (good) Sherry casks. Take your time and learn. This may not be the worlds most complex malt, but all the way, you know this was well made.  These bottlings came out in small batches. The bottle I tasted had L005 on the label and looks ever so slightly different from the one pictured above. This is a speciality and worth picking up. Highly drinkable and very nice. Should still be available and affordable.

Points: 83