Tasting Notes

The following reviews appeared in the September 2016 issue of F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal.
© F. Paul Pacult

ratings

Recent Mezcal and American, Canadian, Indian and French Whiskey Reviews

MEZCAL – MEXICO

Alipus San Andres Ensamble Mezcal
(Mexico) 47.2% abv, $65.
Dazzling clarity; colorless yet silvery somehow. Not only are there whiffs of campfire smoke, rubber pencil eraser, and burnt match in the opening nosing but there’s also an unusual presence, a nuance, of ripe tropical fruit (pineapple? papaya?); more aeration accentuates the fruit aspect which now is more like kiwi or star fruit while the tangy smokiness turns more like cigar ash; this is a mesmerizing mezcal bouquet of subtlety. Entry is keenly rubbery, vegetal, lean and acidic, astringent and moderately smoky; midpalate echoes the entry, adding green pepper, as the fruitiness so prevalent in the bouquet vanishes. Finishes very long, mildly smoky, sooty. Another winner from Alipus and Craft Distillers.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended 

Mezcalero No. 16 Mezcal
(Mexico) 47.1% abv, $96.
Crystalline clarity; void of color. This linear upfront and intensely “green” aroma is all about flax, textile fibers, hemp, cigarette tobacco; secondary inhalations pick up notes of fennel, manila, green leaf vegetable that are underlined by a core fragrance of dry earth/soil – really interesting bouquet, this one. Entry is remarkably stone-like , intensely minerally, even a touch horseradish-like, brazenly tangy and feral; midpalate reflect the entry to a tee but expands the horseradish character that brings a zestiness that’s vegetal and raw. Aftertaste is properly oily, astringent, mildly smoky, and extended.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended 

mezcalaro-mezcalMezcalero Special No. 2 Mezcal
(Mexico) 48.76% abv, $135.
Impeccably pure and colorless. This frontline aroma pushes pickle brine, dill, fennel, palm oil scents in your face without apology plus there’s an undercurrent of spirit that’s borderline piquant/prickly; following further air contact, the aroma turns vegetable garden-like, offering dry, tangy notes of textile fiber, flax, canola oil, corrugated cardboard. Entry is so smooth that it’s silky and oily, mildly piquant and spicy (chili pepper), and satisfyingly elegant, yet dense; midpalate brings out more density of flavor as the taste profile steers in the vegetal directions of baked eggplant, grilled asparagus, sautéed Brussels sprouts. Aftertaste remains vegetal, roasted/toasty, slightly smoky, and peppery but offers a honey-like final taste that’s succulent and luscious.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation
 

Marca Negra Tepeztate Mezcal
(Mexico) 47.3% abv, $128.
There’s the faintest tint of tarnished silver in this mezcal; very minor sediment—inconsequential. “Peculiar” doesn’t begin to tell the story of this aroma that’s rubbery but also floor wax-like, mildly ashy, sawdust-like, sappy/resiny; the woodsy element doesn’t calm down with more air contact, in fact, it seems to accelerate as the tree sap/resin component transforms into furniture polish, glue, and asphalt/macadam. Entry goes very fruity as the waxiness and road tar depart, leaving the door wide open for the agave pulpiness to take charge and it does; midpalate stays the fruity/pulpy course as the flavor profile becomes marginally smokier, pungent, almost like charred pineapple or charred orchard fruit (pear, peach). Finish is medium long, reserved, gently sweet and ripe. Very nice, especially in the subtle in-mouth stages.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended 

Miel de Tierra Joven Mezcal
(Mexico) 40% abv, $55.
Clear and clean and colorless as spring water. There’s a fresh fruitiness to this opening aroma that’s void of smoke, road tar, tobacco expectations and is therefore squeaky clean if slightly oily; later sniffs detect notes of banana, soy sauce, orange blossom, fresh peas, Boston lettuce—hardly your typical mezcal bouquet but it’s crisp freshness is appealing, if against assumptions. Entry is curiously sweet then sour then a touch mossy/white button mushroom-like in the first in-mouth stage; midpalate remains true to the fungi/mushroom-like entry as the flavor profile stays nimble, delicate in intensity but texturally oily and creamy. Finishes cleanly, crisply and short to medium long in length. A tidied up mezcal, dressed in a suit and playing against type.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars3Recommended 

Miel de Tierra Joven Mezcal, Agave Salmiana
(Mexico) 40% abv, $89.
Colorless; pristine purity. This opening aroma is keenly paper-like, parchment-like, as well as white onion-like, scallion-like, and even a bit like soy bean/tofu and steamed white rice; later sniffs after more aeration discover lean, acidic, but not astringent fragrances that are reflective more of green vegetable than salt, brine or smoke. Entry is assiduously clean, acidic, slightly rubbery, even a touch tarmac-like as the controlled smokiness builds with time and palate coverage; midpalate offers a moderately powerful smoke punch that’s gently sweet, tar-like, and saline, but there’s more to this flavor profile as it advances into the aftertaste stage, featuring (suddenly) sweet-ish tastes of tropical fruits, agave syrup, and sugar. It’s like this mezcal was designed to be well-mannered, but its naturally feral nature couldn’t be reined-in altogether.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended 

Miel de Tierra Reposado Mezcal
(Mexico) 40% abv, $62.
Chardonnay yellow/gamboge color; excellent clarity. The buttoned down opening aroma is disappointingly inexpressive and lackluster—I move on; secondary inhalations after more air contact uncover very little in the way of aromatic expansion and except for meager notes of cotton fiber and soy bean there’s not a lot happening here. Entry is medium sweet, mildly oily in texture, but like the uninspired bouquet, the first taste profile is too cleaned up and tequila-like for me; midpalate is boringly mute, void of any smoky agave thrust, and is totally oak-driven. While there are no glaring technical flaws, this is Mezcal Lite and therefore of no interest to me.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars-2Not Recommended
 

Miel de Tierra Anejo Mezcal
(Mexico) 40% abv, $72.
Bright flax/ pale gold color; flawless purity. Hello, Aroma, where are you? Virtually void of fragrance and a kind of mezcal vodka, a Mezka in other words. Entry is dismally dull and blah as scant flavor character is found; midpalate ditto. Stop wasting my time with this gutless, zero charm garbage that has nothing to do with mezcal. So lacking in character I can’t even laugh at it. If you even think of buying this, I may never speak to you again.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstarNot Recommended 

WHISKEY – USA

1792 Barton Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(USA) 62.5% abv, $45.
Deep auburn color; pristine purity. I get straight-at-you gun metal, metallic, iron works aromas upfront after the pour, plus an oaky polymer, tree sap odor that’s dry and a touch baked; with more aeration, the metallic scent turns into nut shell, acetate, oak plank aromas that are neither appealing nor unappealing, just there—I detect no graininess or cereal or corn-related fragrances. Entry flashes spirity heat in the first moments but that diminishes rapidly, leaving behind a charming taste profile highlighted by caramel corn and sap-like flavors that are medium bodied and silky in texture; midpalate features flavors of caramel corn, burnt sugar, a deft touch of honey and then the elevated abv arises again to take command of the midpalate and finish. HINT: Cut 2 ounces of 1792 with 3/4 ounce of mineral water to appreciate this whiskey’s full-throttle taste.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars3Recommended 

Amador Whiskey Co. Ten Barrels Limited Production Straight Hop-Flavored American Whiskey
(USA) 48% abv, $100.
Topaz color; flawless clarity. Smells of burnt matchsticks and canned walnuts in the opening whiffs; can’t say I love this glaringly awkward aroma even after allowing for more air contact and I think it all has to do with the hop flavoring (??!!), which simply doesn’t work for me aromatically. Entry reflects the beery bouquet and takes it a step further by making the taste profile seem kernel-like, bean-like, beery, and, most grievously, heavily waxy; midpalate mirrors the entry stage (regrettably) as the intensity of the hops wipes out all other taste possibilities. Aftertaste is as poor as the aroma, entry, and midpalate. A wretched whiskey disaster that never should have been released because it’s a bad idea, in my opinion. Horrible.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstarNot Recommended 

Amador Whiskey Co. Double Barrel Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey Finished With Napa Valley Wine Barrels
(USA) 43.4% abv, $40.
Rich amber/burnished orange color; ideal purity. This alluring opening aroma is buttermilk biscuit-like, doughy, nutty, and sap-like—a total delight; further aeration brings out delicate touches of candied pear, black raisins, pomegranate as the direction of the aroma moves firmly toward fruitiness, which mingles well with the grainy foundation flavor. Entry is supple, bittersweet, chocolaty, fudge-like, and like chocolate covered walnuts; midpalate is scrumptiously textured and deeply grainy, with supporting hints of cocoa, berries, vanilla bean. Aftertaste is medium long, raisiny, plummy, and a bit spicy. Really good job here of flavor marriage.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended
 

Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(USA) 45.5% abv, $50.
Bright topaz/umber color; pristine clarity. There’s a subtle, supple graininess in the opening sniffs that’s partly corn-based but also keenly leathery and bittersweet and because of these early signs I know good things are coming; secondary inhalations after more aeration unearth traces of butter-brickle, lead pencil, corrugated cardboard, parchment, and lima bean—it’s a multifaceted bouquet but one that works nicely. Entry is honeyed, more bittersweet than sweet, corny but not overly so, caramel-like, dusty dry; midpalate reflects the entry, adding a bread-like toastiness that’s just slight burnt and smoky. Finishes medium long, elegant, and deeply grilled corn-on-the-cob-like.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended

bladebow-22-yoBlade and Bow Limited Release 22 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(USA) 46% abv, $150.
One of the prettiest whiskeys evaluated this year; deep henna/old copper color that dazzles in its purity. Holy-moly, there’s a whole load of nuances here as I detect sweet corn, peanut butter, toasted almond, new leather saddle, and corn nuts (snack); after more air contact, the aroma releases enticing but balanced fragrances of rich oakiness, vanilla bean, bay leaf, cola nut. Entry features a streamlined succulence that’s reminiscent of candied walnut, candied pineapple, chocolate covered cherry, honey, with all the variables complementing each other. Entry highlights the harmony found in the bouquet as all the moving parts work in complete integration, providing a clinic on how older straight bourbons can run with the great whiskeys of Ireland and Scotland; midpalate is airtight, focused on the sweet corn base, delicately sweet, with subtle hints of baked pear, vanilla bean, and honey. Aftertaste features the toastiness of corn and the richness of the luxurious texture. One of the finest American whiskeys I’ve had this year, to date.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation 

bookers-rye-bottleboxBooker’s Rye Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey – Age 13 Years, 1 Month, 12 Days
(USA) 68.1% abv, $299.
The cherry wood/cinnamon stick color is awesomely beautiful; flawless purity. The first inhalations aren’t an assault at all by the 68.1% abv—instead, the olfactory mechanism is treated to resinous, bark-like, and grainy aromas that are balanced, measured in spiciness, and keenly woody; secondary whiffs detect deep rye flavor in the forms of rye snack crackers and unseeded rye bread. Entry is sublimely toasty, round and rich in texture, honeyed in a controlled manner, and luscious; midpalate reinforces all the entry impressions, adding spirity heat that is appropriate considering the degree of alcohol and the heat underlines all the positive attributes in the mouth making this one of the best straight ryes in the marketplace. Aftertaste is surprisingly brief, mellow, intensely grainy. Another Booker’s triumph.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation
 

bookers-annis-answerBooker’s Bourbon “Annis’ Answer” Batch 2016-02 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Age 6 Years, 2 Months, 1 Day
(USA) 63.35% abv, $60.
Seriously pretty and deep new copper color; I see oils floating in the core but with Booker’s that’s natural; otherwise pristine clarity. This Booker’s edition starts out with a nutty aroma that’s dry yet piquant, slightly toasted yet raw, paper-like, slightly honeyed; more time in the glass allows for some of the spirit to blow off, leaving behind aromas of almond paste, nougat, caramel corn. Entry is warming on the tongue but not in the least fiery, toasted like a seared campfire marshmallow, a little reminiscent of tomato paste, and even grilled melon and pineapple; midpalate is succulent in its sweetness, which is clearly corn-driven rather than oak-driven and like sweet corn and creamed corn at the final midpalate stage before the silky aftertaste. Superlative restraint makes this one of the best Booker’s in recent memory.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation
 

toogies-invitationBooker’s Bourbon “Toogie’s Invitation” Batch 2016-03 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Age 6 Years, 2 Months, 1 Day
(USA) 64.5% abv, $60.
The bright bronze color is deep; impeccable purity. There is a huge amount of black peppercorn in the opening sniffs that is simultaneously prickly and piquant in nature and purpose, making this one of the oddest Booker’s bouquets to date; later inhalations detect more of the corn base, but also spicy rye. Entry is rich, peppery, intensely cornbread-like, cornmeal-like, and caramelized onion-like; midpalate serves up all the entry impressions in spades, adding a sausage biscuit quality that’s touched with maple syrup. Aftertaste is BIG, roasted, BBQ sauce-like, peppery, zesty and sassy.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation 

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
(USA) 59.7% abv, $50.
Lovely burnt orange/bronze color; perfectly pure clarity. The initial whiffs are tight, cornmeal-like, and potent but neither overpowering nor prickly in their approach; secondary inhalations after more aeration discover a lean, narrowly channeled aroma that’s focused intently on cornmeal, road tar, ash-like, and intensely woody/resiny scents that are dry and totally void of any grainy fruitiness. Entry features woody, sap-like tastes of oak resins, acid, and tobacco leaf; midpalate echoes the entry in the wood intensity that’s bone dry and tapered. I find the finish a little lacking in scope and flavor latitude as the wood influence overshadows all other taste possibilities. Recommendable but I prefer the lower strength bottlings of Bulleit Bourbons and Ryes.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars3Recommended

High West Yippee Ki-Yay, A Blend of Straight Rye Whiskeys
(USA) 46% abv, $100.
The mahogany color is gorgeously rich and sediment-free; a visually pleasing whiskey. There’s an appealing floral/dried flower aspect to the opening inhalations that is almost perfume-like; that unusual aspect turns positively fruity/fruit salad-like with more air contact as the aroma transforms into a round bouquet, full of kiwi, apricot fragrances that swell with aeration. Entry is deeply fruity, red cherry-like, with a hint of baked and spiced red apple; midpalate turns a touch like sweetened breakfast cereal with dried fruit and is as sweet as black cherry juice. Finishes sweetly, ripe, herbal, and juicy fruity. A serious departure for a rye whiskey but I like it quite a lot.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended 

Hirsch Small Batch Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(USA) 46% abv, $40.
Bronze color; very good clarity. This opening aroma is subtle and understated as compared to other Hirsch whiskeys I’ve reviewed in past years, but the grain core is solid and as dry as a desert; more air contact changes the dynamic of this bouquet as the oxygen rustles up savory aromas of palm oil, pinto bean, wood shavings, and sweet corn. Entry is supple, rich in texture, bittersweet, and tree sap-like; midpalate mixes the sappiness with the corn foundation getting a sweetened cornflakes cereal base flavor that’s the ideal platform for lesser tastes, such as honey, allspice, black peppercorn. Finishes medium long, acutely peppery, and substantial. Really like the powerful finish.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended

 J. Henry & Sons Cask Strength Wisconsin Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(USA) 60% abv, $75.
Perfectly clean and clear of sediment; deep, henna/auburn color. Grain intensity is pronounced in the first nosing pass as are earthy, soil-like attributes that are dusty dry and almost brittle and leathery; second passes discover corn husk, tamale cornmeal aromas that are a little spicy, cocoa bean-like, doughy, dried berry-like and waxy. Powerful entry flavors are influenced by the elevated abv and possess sideline flavors of bread dough, yeast, dark chocolate, cinnamon; midpalate stage is where this bourbon soars as the abv settles down, allowing for radiant tastes of corn syrup, creamed corn, caramel, vanilla bean and burnt sugar to shine. Finishes long, more bittersweet than sweet like burnt sugar, with shades of dark caramel, honey, toasted corn bread, flax seed oil. A true bourbon heavyweight for seasoned veterans and creative bartenders who’ll know what matching ingredients will accentuate its depth of character.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended 

michters-barrel-strength-ryMichter’s US*1 Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
(USA) 55.9% abv, $75.
Chestnut brown color; pristine purity. First inhalations detect unseeded rye bread, breakfast cereal, RyVita snack crackers, lead pencil; secondary sniffs detect more of the oak aspect in the forms of tannin and subtle vanilla bean fragrances. Entry is hugely appealing, zesty, BBQ sauce-like, a little like tomato paste, beef bouillon; midpalate flavors offer a silky texture, tangy, grainy, doughy flavors that are never overrun by the elevated abv, which is always cast in the part of a supporting character. Aftertaste is hearty, woody, long, toasted, and opulent. I love the way the cask strength is not an issue. Straight rye at its best.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation

Rough Rider Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch No. 5
(USA) 45% abv, $36.
Sepia brown color; excellent purity. First whiffs capture delicate aromatic notes of corn husk/tamale, cornbread, and toasted cocoa bean; secondary inhalations encounter high cocoa content dark chocolate, sweetened breakfast cereal, sealing wax, and oaky resins. Entry is pleasingly rich, sinewy in texture, as bittersweet as it is sweet, chewy, and delectable; midpalate reflects many of the entry findings, adding toffee and caramel corn flavors that usher in and dominate the savory aftertaste.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars3Recommended
 

Rough Rider Bull Moose Rye Whiskey Batch No. 4
(USA) 45% abv, $36.
Burnt sienna color; flawless clarity. This opening nose is ripe, fruity, cereal-like, and even a bit like cherry compote; with more aeration, the aroma settles down into a moderately spicy/peppery bouquet that’s direct, assertive, vivid, and delicately sweet and ripe. Entry is jam-packed with flavors, including seedless rye bread, toasted marshmallow, sour grape hard candy; midpalate mirrors the entry, but at this stage it’s the silky texture that tells the biggest story. Aftertaste treats the taste buds to a fully rounded-out, supple rye that’s quite lovely.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended
 

WHISKY CANADA

crown-royal-cornerstone-bleCrown Royal Cornerstone Blend, Noble Collection Blended Canadian Whisky
(Canada) 40.3% abv, $60.
Deep amber/topaz hue; excellent clarity. I get a considerable amount of dried fruits in the opening round of sniffing, mostly orchard fruits (cherry, plum) rather than tropical or citrus, plus there’s a phantom trace of woody resins; later whiffs detect more in the way of minerals, dry stone/granite and nickel than fruit, all of which brings a pleasing dusty dryness to the latter aromatic stages that are highly pleasant. Entry is oily, resiny, deeply woody and dry, even a touch spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon); midpalate highlights the baking spices and the now-sweet oak as the fruit aspects fall away entirely in favor of the acids and fats of the oak. Aftertaste is medium long, bittersweet, tightly wound, and very pleasing.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended 

WHISKY INDIA

Editor’s note on Indian Whisky: We have reported on Indian whiskies in past issues, focusing on the nice Amrut single malts (Volume 20, Issue 3). The four whiskies in this edition come from the distiller Paul John and hail from the hot, humid state of Goa, located in southwest India. Due to the extreme heat of Goa, maturation time in barrel is much quicker than in more temperate climates such as Ireland and Scotland. It should be noted that India is the largest whisky, rum, and brandy market in the world, according to IWSR Magazine in their July issue.

Paul John Brilliance Single Malt Whisky
(India) 46% abv, $60.
Bright amber/old gold color; flawless purity. Starts out aromatically showing ample dry breakfast cereal and waxy fruit aromas, especially apple, pear; in the second passes, the aroma expands meagerly to include sealing wax, parchment, cellophane—I wouldn’t call this a demonstrative bouquet, but it is adequately appealing. Entry is alluringly grainy/malty, a touch sweet and ripe, and reminiscent of muesli; midpalate is zesty, vibrant, slightly prickly on the tongue and sappy. Aftertaste features both the malted barley and plenty of oak polymers and acids that together make for a balanced, youthful dram.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars3Recommended 

Paul John Edited Single Malt Whisky
(India) 46% abv, $65.
Topaz color; unblemished clarity. This opening burst of aromatics features a dry cereal, snack cracker aroma that’s dry and grainy; secondary inhalations following more air contact discover a malted milk ball scent that speaks well of the malted barley, if in an understated manner. Entry features narrowly focused flavors, mostly slightly sweet barley malt cereal, oatmeal, and candied fruits, predominantly pineapple; midpalate is properly grainy/malty, a little bit astringent as a black pepper taste ascends to complement the malted barley and sap-like oak. Finishes medium long, intensely woody, a touch bitter.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars3Recommended
 


paul-john-classicPaul John Select Cask Classic Single Malt Whisky
(India) 55.2% abv, $95.
Appealing ginger color; perfect purity. First whiffs pick up some reluctant spices, notably parsley, bay leaf, as well as acute notes of wax paper, beeswax, and linseed oil; later sniffs unearth vegetal hints of runner peas, snow pea, and asparagus that lie beneath the topical graininess. Entry is richer than either the Brilliance or the Edited whiskies, featuring nicely melded tastes of light toffee, cocoa butter, the omnipresent black pepper, grain husk oils; midpalate reflects the entry impressions to a tee, adding honeyed breakfast cereal, toasted almond, marshmallow, caramel. Aftertaste is long, grainy, caramel-like. The elevated abv is never an issue.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended
 

paul-john-select-cask-peatePaul John Select Cask Peated Single Malt Whisky
(India) 55.5% abv, $100.
Darkest of the four, a deep bronze/auburn color; impeccable purity. The smoky astringency highlighted in the initial inhalations narrowly focus on one element only—peat reek; later whiffs detect more graininess, almost a kernel-like oiliness that mingles well with the tobacco smokiness. Entry is supple, creamy in texture and top-loaded with peat reek smokiness, campfire smoke, toasted marshmallow, BBQ sauce, cigar box; midpalate echoes the entry aspects, adding a pruny sweetness that mingles nicely with the lofty alcohol, carrying forward the taste profile into the finish with aplomb and style. A peaty single malt that displays the kind of balance necessary to compete with those of maritime Scotland.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended
 

WHISKY — FRANCE

Editor’s note on Rozelieures: Rozelieures single malt whiskies are produced in Lorraine, the region of NE France that accounts for about 20 percent of all French barley. The Grallet-Dupic family, whose 750-acre estate rests close by to an extinct volcano, produces the whiskies. Consequently, their estate is rich in volcanic soil. The whiskies are double distilled in Charentes pot-stills and are matured in a trio of storehouses in a variety of used barrels, including ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, ex-cognac, ex-sauternes, ex-Condrieu, ex-Nuit St. George and more. Current annual production is roughly 400,000 bottles.

Rozelieures Origine Collection French Single Malt Whisky
(France) 46% abv, $50.
Minimum of 4 years old; matured in used sherry and cognac barrels. Brilliant burnt sienna color; oddly showing a rash of bubbles that cling to the inside wall of the sampling glass – that’s a new one. First sniffs detect pleasing scents of ripe tropical fruits, damp cereal, freshly chopped parsley, wet stone, and gun metal; secondary whiffs encounter immature, banana-like, an almost lemon/citrus tartness that must be the barley influence as the bouquet takes a right turn down Sour Street. Entry highlights the grain kernel since there’s an oiliness that rules the opening flavor profile with a firm hand; midpalate offers a meager juiciness/ripeness that tries to make an in-road but ultimately fails in the face of the grain oil density that lasts deep into the astringent finish. A gawky young whisky that hasn’t been allowed to shed some of its awkwardness, namely the barley-driven harshness that would, with more time, smooth out. Began well in the nose, then stumbled throughout the in-mouth stages. Pass on it.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars-2Not Recommended
 

Rozelieures Rare Collection French Single Malt Whisky
(France) 40% abv, $64.
Minimum of 5 years old. Lightly peated malt that is barreled in used sherry and cognac casks then finished in ex-sauternes. Ochre color; again, I see wall-clinging bubbles under the examination lamp—curious. Here is a nicely sour malted barley aroma that’s youthful, intensely grainy, dry cereal-like, and minerally; with further aeration, the aroma transforms into a bouquet as the primary fragrance remains the barley but the supporting scents—black pepper, jerk rub, toasted bread, lead pencil—converge to create an elegant aroma that’s totally dry. Entry offers a sap-like first flavor that lays the foundation for subsequent tastes of caramel, white raisin, quince, and white pepper; midpalate underlines the raisin/quince element, but then advances a nearly mint-like spiciness that plays well off the dried fruit components, setting the stage for the medium long, candied aftertaste.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars3Recommended 

Rozelieures Fumé Collection French Single Malt Whisky
(France) 46% abv, $80.
Six to 8 years old. Matured in 100 percent first-fill fino and oloroso sherry casks. Pretty sepia color that displays a mass of bubbles at the bottom of the glass. Oh my, the honeyed sherry richness is apparent right from the opening inhalation and that’s the hook for me; added time in the glass serves to stimulate round, supple, buttery aromas of black raisin, prune, and clove that make this like an aromatic trip to a bakery shop. Entry reinforces the deep sherry aspect in the forms of spice cake (nutmeg, clove), brown sugar, caramelized sugar, candied walnut, dried tropical fruit flavors like banana, pineapple; midpalate echoes the entry buts goes a half-notch deeper as the sherry underpinning shines at the point of convergence with the suddenly astringent, bittersweet, coffee bean-/espresso-like finish (where did that come from?). Intriguing, complex, but still a youngish whisky that might be served well by another 2 years in barrel.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars3Recommended

Rozelieures Tourbé Collection French Single Malt Whisky
(France) 46% abv, $90.
Minimum of 8 years old. Aged in first-fill used bourbon casks and new barrels made from Lorraine forest oak. 30 ppm of peatiness. Oldest but the lightest in color, featuring a topaz/straw yellow shade in which rest a few bubbles. This lightly phenolic aroma shows early signs of ashtray, loose cigarette tobacco, and iodine but very little barley malt cereal; further air contact only stirs up more phenols as the dry bouquet now turns into a smoke-filled room that’s littered with cigarette butts. Entry is pleasingly cigar tobacco sweet and sappy, with sideline flavors of mincemeat, chocolate covered walnut, marshmallow, light toffee; midpalate mirrors the entry, adding honey and dried flowers. By a long shot, the best of the four Rozelieures, not because of the added peatiness but because of the longer period in barrel, which has smoothed out much of the youthful clumsiness seen in the other three.
Spirit Journal September 2016:
redstars4Highly Recommended

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