We have been so lucky to have met with Benjamin Kuentz, in Paris, to sample some interesting creations from his careful approach to “publishing” French whiskies. So when I bumped into a collector from India at Paris Whisky Live on the first day as he was leaving, I knew just the place to take him as a “last taste” of the fest.
Whilst I encouraged him to try the full range, I skipped over some familiar friends: (D’un) Verre printanier, Fin de partie and our favorite Aveux Gourmands. Instead, I focused on two new whiskies intended to join their core range.
For both of these expressions, Benjamin selected whisky from the Charentes region and then matured it in a rather interesting combination with an ex-cask of Cognac, Italian Vermouth, and ginger brandy. And yet they are completely different in character!
Maison Benjamin Kuentz Spicy Nouba (2022) 45% – Spicy, Fruity, Woody
- Nose – Definitely woodsy, lightly peaty, and fruity
- Palate – Fiesty young and fresh, quite a lively character
- Finish – A bit bitter
I had fun with this one – it was indeed a bit spicy, or could also be described as “spunky!” An interesting start…
Here is what they have to say:
ROUND OF FEVERISH SPICES AND RIPE FRUIT. A COLOUR, A TEMPO, THOSE OF SPICY NOUBA, A VELVET WHISKY, GENEROUS, RHYTHMIC.
Delicate, lively, smoky, fruity and slightly peaty at the same time, Latin at heart, oriental in body. Its nose is surprisingly lively. Woody green cereal notes, fleshed out with vanilla essence and candied orange peel. In the mouth, it is a long moment of suavidad. Soft and supple, a slow attack. Vanilla again, mixed with sensual spices, turmeric and sweet paprika, are shaken with a zest of bitterness. It is even more striking in the Old Fashioned version.
As for the next one?
Maison Benjamin Kuentz Végétal Musette (2022) 45% – Vegetal, Fresh, Fruity
- Nose – Funky, fun, and really quite “vegetal”, malt, Agricole
- Palate – Very interesting – mature orchard fruits
- Finish – Honeyed with a touch of tartness and spice
Really quite unique – I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting. However, it was really quite compellingly interesting – I would have loved to settle down more with it rather than the scant “sniff” and “sip” that comes from festival tastings.
And what more do they have to say?
IT HAS THE FRESHNESS OF A GARDEN SHELTERED FROM THE SUMMER.
A festival of floral notes and cereal flavours makes Végétal Musette a whisky of wild youth and vivacity, free to flirt with a sparkling water. On the nose, a swing of malt flavours, wet grass, Granny Smith, crunchy pear and tropical vanilla. The palate, unctuous and light, gently abandons the spice and revives around eucalyptus, lemon and green pepper. Its finish concedes a touch of warmth, between honey and dried malt.
Would I agree? From my brief notes, quite possible! And up next? A shift to something with a bit of peat…
One of the new limited edition expressions, Benjamin selected whisky from the Lorrain region and aged it for six to seven years, including two years finishing in ex-Moscatel barrels.
Maison Benjamin Kuentz Tohu-Bohu Des Terres 56.2% – Peaty, Generous, Powerful
- Nose – A bit saline to start, quite mineral, fruity, has an effervescence to it with subtle peat
- Palate – Initially quite “hot” however on the 2nd sip, it settles beautifully, with a lovely mouthfeel, fab flavours of peat, and sweet
- Finish – It continues with more peat and sweet
What a nice change of pace to a subtle peat with a bit of “oomph!” If I had more time with this dram, I would have tried it with just a few drops of water to see if it opens up to reveal other elements.
After tasting, I guessed this must be from Rozellieures distillery which was quietly confirmed.
What more do we know?
TOHU-BOHU DES TERRES ÉVOQUE DÉJÀ PAR SON NOM LES REMOUS QU’IL COMPTE GÉNÉRER DANS CE PRÉ CARRÉ ÉCOSSAIS QU’EST LE WHISKY TOURBÉ.
Depuis les terres accidentées, les sentiers escarpés, ou encore les tortueuses forêts, ce whisky rappelle les délicates odeurs de fumée, de mousse, du cuir de nos bottes neuves sans oublier la végétalité et la fraîcheur des sous-bois. Benjamin a souhaité réécrire à sa façon ce monument du whisky en alliant la puissance de la tourbe à l’élégance française dans une valse entre la fumée, les épices, les fruits et les végétaux. D’inspiration écossaise, mais définitivement français.
And their official tasting notes? Also only French, however thanks to Google translate, read on:
- Nose – Fine elegant peat, delicate smoke, yellow fruits, dried apricot, currants, pastry aromas, a touch of iodine
- Taste – Intense attack, notes of wet peat, undergrowth, smoke softened by a syrupy delicacy, and notes of candied fruit
- Finish – Malty and fruity finish borrows from a delicate peat, notes of fig and dried dates, blending subtly with a minty peat
And with this, my 1st day at Paris Whisky Live came to a close. What fun to explore a few new developments from Maison Benjamin Kuentz. I’m quite excited to see how creations from this house will continue to evolve!
Curious about other explorations? Check out our experiences with Maison Benjamin Kuentz :
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