As flights around the world get cancelled, we are clearly not out of the woods yet with COVID. And yet 2021 brought a few glimmers of optomism and windows of freedom before further caution prevailed.
Whisky-wise that meant a couple grand adventures. No surprise, now being based in Europe there was a decidedly continental bent to whisky explorations…
France – starting with my Parisian whisky companions, we explored both in person and virtually an array of French whiskies:
- Introducing Maison Benjamin Kuentz – (D’un) Verre printanier , Fin de partie, Aveux Gourmands
- A visit to Maison Benjamin Kuentz – Aux Particules Vines Edition 1, 4 and 5, followed by Le Guip
- French Fancies – Le Pertuis, Glann Ar Mor, Rozelieures Subti and Tourbe
- Bellevoye French Flag Trio – Blue, White + Red
Sweden – What better excuse to go to Sweden than an opportunity to catch up with a friend and explore a couple of distilleries!
- Mackmyra Distillery visit with a trio from their “Elegant” style aka without peat followed by a “Smoky” trio with peat aka Rök
- Spirit of Hven distillery visit with MerCurious Corn Whisky 45.6%, Seven Stars 6.2 Alcor 45%, Seven Angels St Raphael 40.9%
Germany – Naturally there must be more than one “nod” to my new Work home…
In some cases, it was exploring virtually like St Kilian Signature Edition ‘One’, ‘Four’ , ‘Six’ and ‘Seven’. Or recalling a rare in-person distillery tour of Ziegler Distillery with their range of Aureum whiskies that have – alas – since been discontinued!!! In others, it was a highly memorable weekend in Berlin with a triple pairing and “showstopper” at Union Jack! Yet not all explorations are brilliant – some were a surprising ‘hit’ (J. B.G. Münsterländer Grain whereas others a decided ‘miss’ (Black Forest Wild Whisky Peated ) and some like the St Kilian samples went from promising to perplexing.
Belgium – While I haven’t yet managed to make it to Belgium since moving to Europe, thanks to the kind folks at The Belgian Owl, we had the remarkable opportunity to try all five of their expressions: Origine, Identité, Passion, Evolution, Intense.
Were there other experiences? Certainly! And one hallmark of these continued strange COVID times is the creative ways we connect, exchange and explore… whether in person or virtually.
So I remain cautiously optimistic that 2022 will bring more momentum to movement, perhaps even a trip to visit family and friends in Canada and ideally more frequent trips home to India – not just twice a year!
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