Thursday 26 May 2016

Tasting the Michel Couvreur Whisky range in Hong Kong

A few weeks ago we were treated to a tasting of the core lineup of Michel Couvreur whiskies, thanks to Natural Food & Beverage HK who have exclusive distribution rights in HK. That's eleven whiskies in total.

"Michel Couvreur?" you might ask, and understandably so. Hardly a household name, nor a widely available product, Michel Couvreur whisky does however have an interesting backstory and history, and a varied and unique line-up of whiskies.

If you're thinking it must be a French whisky, you'd be half-right. Michel Couvreur whisky starts life as Scottish New Make Spirit, but is then sent to Burgundy in France, where it enters oak (typically ex-Sherry casks), and undergoes maturation in an underground cellar. What other whisky can lay claim to that sort of lifecycle!?

The brainchild of a wine man (can you guess his name?), the MC lineup is a comprehensive one, with eleven whiskies on tasting during our session and even more available from time to time. From smooth, light, young and elegant Highland-style whiskies to big, robust, older Macallan-esque sherried whiskies, the lineup has something for everyone. 

The range was described to us as "whisky for wine people" and one look at the bottles certainly suggests that to be the case - with labels more akin to a Burgundy Red, wax tops and corks, if it wasn't for the shape of the bottle you could be forgiven for thinking these were French wines at first glance.

We unfortunately didn't take detailed tasting notes on each, but have given brief thoughts below:

Michel Couvreur "The Unique" Blended Scotch, 4yo, 44%: Bready and smooth, with slight hints of Chardonnay (no, really) and pears. This had a short but pleasant finish. 88/100.

Michel Couvreur "Clearach" 3yo, 43%: Spirity at first, turning to red berries and caramel, with an overarching sweetness. A short finish ends with smooth caramel. 90/100.

Michel Couvreur "Intravaganza" Single Malt, 3yo, 50%: Rich toffee and coffee notes, leading to a short, mocha-like finish. 91/100.

Michel Couvreur "Overaged Malt Whisky" Blended Malt, 12yo, 43%: Obvious sweet PX influence - light in palate but with a rich nuttiness on the finish. 91/100.

Michel Couvreur "Overaged Malt Whisky" Blended Malt, 12yo, 53%: Similar to the 43% bottling, but with more Christmas cake notes (sherry-soaked raisins, glace cherries). 91/100.

Michel Couvreur "Pale Single-Single" Single Cask, Single Malt, 12yo, 45%: A nicely perfumed nose with an earthy palate, but perhaps a little too "light" overall. 89/100.

Michel Couvreur "2005 x 2015" Single Malt, 10yo, 47%: Lots of trademark sherry notes (raisins, brazil nuts, toffee, berries), with slight hints of sulphur on the palate. 90/100.

Michel Couvreur "Candid Malt Whisky" Blended Malt, 8-9yo, 49%: Nutty and earthy with a nice long warming finish. 90/100.

Michel Couvreur "Special Vatting" Blended Malt, 12yo, 45%: Slightly perfumed, but with a big sherry nose and palate taking the fore - almonds, dates and prunes. A lovely palate. 92/100.

Michel Couvreur "Blossoming" Single Malt, 14-15yo, 45%: Reminiscent of a sherried Balvenie - not from of the regular lineup, but the single casks we've been lucky enough to try at the distillery (or when Sam Simmons came to town). Fruity, nutty and just very, very well made. The star of the line-up. 93/100.

Michel Couvreur "Very Sherried" 27yo Single Cask Single Malt, 27yo, 48%: Dark caramel-copper in colour, this dram had notes of rich toffee, hints of blackberries, and an aged-Glenfarclas like palate (which for us means confectionary - Cola bottle lollies), some Bannoffee pie and a long, long sweet finish. 92/100.

We'd tried one or two Michel Couvreur whiskies in the past, but it was a pleasure to try the entire core range in one sitting, and really explore the differences in these unique whiskies. We also love the fact that out of 11 whiskies, there were 8 different ABVs! Clearly the people running Michel Couvreur these days bottle their whisky based on "what's right for the whisky", not an arbitrary number.

Michel Couvreur whiskies are available in Hong Kong through Natural Food & Beverage HK and the few linked above are available worldwide through Master of Malt. We'd like to thank Natural F&B for having us as a guest in their office and for sharing the range with us.


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