Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Antipodes Chichibu Quartet

La Maison du Whisky’s VIP Antipodes at Paris Whisky Live 2022 featured a different kind of Artist approach with Japan’s Chichibu whisky and artist Aki Kurada – described as a prolific Japanese artist known for his murals, performances, stage designs, and work with renowned architects.

Curious, I knew it should be worth braving the crowd around this booth with its eye-catching labels and enticing drams…

I had intended to start with the Virgin Oak, however inadvertently we began with the heavily peated cask – oops!

Chichibu 6 year (2015) Heavily Peated 2nd Fill Bourbon Barrel #4660 63.9% (LMdW) 197 Bottles

The aroma was initially quite dessert-like – with vanilla, biscuits, and fruity…. then creeping up from behind came a bonfire. The palate had a very pronounced peat that tapered away into an ashy finish.

Chichibu 8 year (2013) Japanese Wine Cask #9664 61% (LMdW) 210 bottles

How interesting to try a whisky finished in a Japanese wine cask, though unspecified, it had a bit of character reminiscent of a merlot – pure speculation on my part!

Chichibu 8 year (2013) Virgin Oak Barrel #2856 61% (LMdW) 198 Bottles

You could really see the character of the virgin oak – the spice, oaky and rather intense on the palate, chased by a nice nutty element, and a resinous finish.

Chichibu 7 year (2014) Peated 2nd Fill Bourbon Barrel #3812 64.3% (LMdW) 187 Bottles

Much lighter peat than the heavily peated whisky at the start of our journey… also more balanced.

What an interesting zip through current offerings from Chichibu. Interested in learning more, after the event, I looked up what La Maison du Whisky has to say about the artist and whiskies:

It is no coincidence that this Japanese artist’s selfportraits have been chosen by La Maison du Whisky to adorn these exclusive versions of Chichibu matured in four different types of cask, one especially surprising cask having previously held a wine made from a Japanese grape variety. Like the different facets of a single persona, these four unique casks explore Chichibu’s knowhow and the very different temperaments of a single creative spirit. Produced with acrylic on canvas, the faces painted by Aki Kuroda recall the ancestral tradition of masks while at the same time affirming a very expressive modernity, in a style that verges on abstraction. They reflect an identity that is resolutely contemporary and yet nourished by tradition, much like Chichibu itself.

“My artworks are always the result of a meeting, a chance encounter, a detail that struck me or a face that inspired me… These self-portraits are in part reminiscences of the Minotaure magazine which I saw as a child in my father’s house, a Surrealist magazine published in Paris in the 1930s. I have been obsessed with the figure of the Minotaur ever since. Its features are mixed with mine. I don’t see anything monstrous in it. It’s simply a game for me to overlay them.

What an interesting approach….

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LMdW Artist Series #12 – The Fierce Ledaig 15+ year

The last La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series #12 at Paris Whisky Live 2022 I sampled was a move to Tobermoray distillery with a heavily peated whisky. I knew this was the one to close – after this, anything subtle or nuanced would be lost without a proper palate cleanser! And it didn’t disappoint!

What more do the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy of Google translate)?

  • Nose : rich, concentrated. Particularly intense and evocative, the first nose reveals a rather dry compact peat, rooty and at the same time of great elegance. Then, aromas of cherries in eau-de-vie and apricot highlight the quality of aging in sherry casks, very well integrated. Allowed to breathe, the aromatic palette becomes increasingly heady (lily, freesia), exotic (mango, persimmon) and superbly chocolaty. The whole shows a radiant harmony.
  • Appearance : orange copper.
  • Palate : lively, tempestuous. Percussive, the attack on the palate is a faithful synthesis of the nose. Very quickly, however, an increasingly chocolatey and above all more saline peat takes things in hand. In the mid-palate, it takes on medicinal (arnica), camphorated, animal (bacon) and empyreumatic (sandalwood, chimney fire) tones. The finish suggests a distillate with fruity (raspberry) and lemony flavors.
  • Overall : long, deep. Marked by notes of slightly damp earth, the start of the finish is subtly floral (poppy, cornflower, violet). The peat has calmed down, becoming more liquoricey and finely peppery. With its flavors of curry and ylang-ylang, the aftertaste is undeniably oriental. In the retro-nasal olfaction, once again very present, peat occupies the center of the palate, allowing the deliciously sweet juice of a ripe apricot to flow. The empty glass is nobly spiced (cardamom, saffron, ginger)

And this concludes my journey through the Artist Series #12 with:

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LMdW Artist Series #12 – The beautiful Bowmore 20+ year

The 5th La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series #12 at Paris Whisky Live 2022 was an absolute stunner! What a beautiful Bowmore… read on….

Bowmore 20+ year (2001/2022) 1st Fill Sherry Cask No 102 54.8% (LMdW Artist Collection #12) 665 Bottles. Eur 999

  • Nose – Sweet marshmallows on a campfire
  • Palate – Fabulous silk, salted caramel, then chocolate, smoky and sweet
  • Finish – Delicious! More fruit than fire

Elegant and incredibly special – this Bowmore was such a treat! I truly wished I could have sat down and enjoyed this one in a much more leisurely way than a simple sniff and swish!

What more do the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy of Google translate)?

  • Nose : both rich and subtle. On the first nose, notes of particularly oily peat (olive), saline (shellfish) as well as a delicate smoke strongly imbue the taster’s olfactory memory. Allowed to breathe, fresh fruit (pear, apple), dried fruit (walnut, almond), dark chocolate and citrus fruit (lemon, grapefruit) accompany delicious spices (cardamom, green pepper, clove). Gradually, the nose evolves towards exotic tones (kiwi, pineapple, passion).
  • Appearance : intense golden yellow.
  • Palate : racy, airy. Full of dynamism, the attack on the palate is marked by a more herbaceous peat, liquorice but also drier (twigs), which has lost none of its magnificent initial maritime character. Revealing notes of vanilla and wax (lustrous wood), the mid-palate gradually becomes tenderly chocolatey and minty. Both crunchy and luscious, the finish is fruity (Mirabelle plum, pears).
  • Overall : long, refined. Wonderfully malty and iodized, the start of the finish evokes a sunny cove. Over time, the fragrant curls of a Havana cigar float in the ambient air suddenly refreshed by a sea breeze. Gourmet, the retro olfaction reveals notes of prune cake, but also lemon meringue pie. The empty glass is intensely peaty, medicinal (balm) and camphoric.

I absolutely adored this one! 

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LMdW Artist Series #12 – The Bunnahabhain 40+ year

At approx 44 years, every element of this whisky expressed its age…. it was a treat to have this wee teasing taste! All I could wish is perhaps one of these years to have a focused evening of just LMdW Artist Collection whiskies, not mixed in as mere sniffs and sips with hundreds of other experiences!

Here is what the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy of how Google translates)….

  • Nose : ample, deep. Incredibly fresh, the initial nose is at once vanilla, lemony, minty and honeyed (acacia). After aeration, a green and rural landscape emerges. Dandelion flowers, scents of buttercup and honeysuckle divinely perfume the surrounding atmosphere. Farther away from the aromatic palette remains the imprint of a diaphanous peat. Wonderful.
  • Appearance : old gold with green reflections
  • Palate : rich, concentrated. Remarkably saline, the attack on the palate is marked by flavors of glasswort and green liquorice. Slender, the mid-palate reveals an invigorating malty bitterness. Then, spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) spread voluptuously on each side of the palate. Gradually, fine particles of soot and dust appear.
  • Overall : long, fresh. Adorned with a delicate exoticism (pineapple, plantain), the start of the finish recalls the liquorice stick glimpsed on the attack, which closely links these two tasting sequences. Infused with plants (chamomile, sage), the aftertaste takes on bright green hues. Resplendent with maturity, the retro-nasal olfaction evokes blocks of dry peat rich in silt and algae. From the empty glass escape aromas of precious wood, hemp and dark chocolate.

Curiously I didn’t mention much peat influence in my notes, however, with a quick sniff and swish, this isn’t surprising to miss certain elements – particularly when in a “mass” tasting environment.

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LMdW Artist Series #12 – The glorious Glenrothes 25+ year

Glenrothes 25+ year (1995/2022) 1st Fill Sherry Cask No 6983 55.5% (LMdW Artist Collection #12) 448 Bottles. Eur 795

  • Nose – Delicious older fruits, rich dried figs – a clear full sherry, chased by chocolate and red currents
  • Palate – Heavy, mature, tobacco, slightly imbalanced
  • Finish – Resinous

This was a heavy, dark, rich dram… at approx 27 years, it packed a punch. With a simple sniff and swish, I wouldn’t even presume to have captured all the facets of this whisky so, instead, turn your attention to what the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy of how Google translate)….

  • Nose : Rich, unctuous. With a pure classicism and radiant beauty, the initial nose reveals notes of dried fruit (date, fig), chocolate, black liquorice and camphor. Allowed to breathe, orange zest, heady flowers (lily, iris), caramel and sweet spices (cinnamon, ginger) form an olfactory sequence of great depth. As a highlight, red fruits (strawberry, raspberry) nuance the aromatic palette with their scarlet tones.
  • Appearance : Orange copper
  • Mouth : Rich, very balanced. Marked by a very nice apricot and roasted rancio (coffee), the attack in the mouth is very much like malted barley. Gourmet (porridge, coffee éclair), the mid-palate invites you to revel in juicy white peaches. The slightly rough skin of these peaches brings a lot of smoothness to the taste palette. Radiant and mature, on the chromatic level, the end of the mouth has taken on very beautiful brown hues (tobacco, carpet of dry leaves).
  • Overall : Long, finely tannic. At the start of the finish, flavors of currants go perfectly with malted barley grains. Juicy (squeezed orange) and at the same time caramelised, the aftertaste lingers on with notes of curry and grated ginger. Finely woody, the retro-nasal olfaction also reveals a subtle fruitiness (wild strawberry). The empty glass is empyreumatic (burning cigar), cocoa and floral (hyacinth, peony).

What an interesting experience however I had no idea this Glenrothes was retailing for Eur 800 – yikes!

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LMdW Artist Series #12 – The intense Benrinnes 10+ year 58.1%

Benrinnes over 10 year (2011/2022) 1st Fill Sherry Cask No 307205 58.1% (LMdW Artist Collection #12) 660 Bottles EUR 198

  • Nose – Heavy dates, prunes, such a clear sherry influence!
  • Palate – Intense, almost too much – at least for so early in the day! Resinous, nutty, very active
  • Finish – Curious….

Overall this was a tough one for me… I’ve had mixed experiences with Benrinnes, however mostly very positive – such as the remarkably rustic19 year, an earlier Artist Series 20 year with its rusty metallic and sweet character, and the less interesting 24 year.

I strongly suspect this is the kind of whisky you don’t want to have just a quick sniff and swish…  it was such a short brush I honestly didn’t discover even a fraction of what was described in the official tasting notes.

What more do the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy google translate)?

  • Nose : rich, deep. Very complex, the initial nose reveals an endless amount of apricot rancio, notes of beeswax, linden honey, heady flowers (hyacinth, pansy), toffee, Turkish delight, chocolate milk, sweet spices (cumin, ginger), fresh coriander, candied orange, melon, camphor, verbena, toasted walnuts, carnation, malted barley grain…
  • Appearance : orange copper with mahogany reflections
  • Palate : ample, unctuous. With a very pleasant delicacy to the touch, the attack on the palate is apricot, chocolate, tertiary (mushrooms, mousse) and balsamic (cough candy, pine). Gourmet, the mid-palate oscillates between flavors of mocha, gingerbread, salted butter caramel and melon ice cream. Then, gradually, dried fruits (chestnuts, chestnuts, walnuts) rub shoulders with fermentation notes (grist) as well as exotic fruits (mango, banana, pineapple).
  • Overall : long, full of liveliness. At the start of the finish, the notes of cough candy and pine resin come back in force and bring a very pleasant freshness to the taste palette. Then, flavors of candied apricot, geranium flower and ginger bring both a lot of smoothness and dynamism to the aftertaste. On the retro-nasal olfaction, notes of still-warm brioche and Paris-Brest emphasize the delicious character of the finish. The empty glass is liquoricey, oily (sesame, sunflower) and cocoa.

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LMdW Artist Series #12 – The delightful Clynelish 30+ year 47.7%

Clynelish over 30 year (1990/2022) Ex Bourbon Cask No 3477 47.7% (LMdW Artist Collection #12) 137 Bottles. Highlands. Eur 350

  • Nose – Citrus perfume, then orchard fruits of pear, lightly waxy, sweet vanilla, delicate and nuanced
  • Palate – Lovely with a surprising depth, delicious and beautiful
  • Finish – Clean and fruity

An enchanting dram, classically styled. Perfection!

What more do the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy of how Google translated)?

  • Appearance : Deep gold.
  • Nose : Fine. Magnificently herbaceous (hay, cut) and fruity (pineapple, banana), the first nose opens quickly with notes of wax that instantly plunge into the “Clynelish” universe. Allowed to breathe, new fruits (pear, apple) appear as well as particularly subtle aromas of vanilla and green liquorice. Increasingly creamy (semolina, rice pudding), the aromatic palette is also peppery, saline almost medicinal (balm, camphor) and lemony.
  • Palate : Dense, balanced. Overflowing with naturalness, with its malty and lemony flavors, the attack on the palate is intimately linked to the aromatic palette. Haughty and luminous, the mid-palate reveals extremely delicate floral notes (lily of the valley, white lilac, rose petal). Very pleasantly saline, the end of the mouth evokes a rural seaside landscape. Thus, at the bend of a bend, we can see the Clynelish and Brora distilleries.
  • Overall : Delicate, serene. Just as marvelously green and saline, the start of the finish shows a honeyed sweetness (acacia) of incredible smoothness. Exotic (coconut, pineapple) and praline, the aftertaste invites you to savor succulent courgette flower fritters. On the retro-nasal olfaction, noble spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) bring a lot of energy to the finish. At once milky, fruity (banana) and rooty (gentian), the empty glass restores the ethereal character of this venerable version.

How fabulous to have a chance to try such a gem!

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – Artist Series #12 Intro

A few years ago, I was introduced to La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series at Singapore Whisky Lives VIP section – what a treat! It was experiences like this that convinced me to purchase a VIP ticket for at least one day at Paris Whisky Live was the way to go!

So I knew it was well worth braving the crowd around this booth to sample the different delights on offering – ranging from Eur 198 to Eur Eur 2,395 per bottle!

So, what is the Artist range all about? Was there a theme this year? And what about the guest artist?

La Maison du Whisky created this series to explore special Scottish vintages – from 10, 15, 20, 25 to 30 years… with this year adding a 40+ year to the mix. Started in 2011, 2022 introduced the 12th edition.

As for a theme? LMdW described it as “Andulasian Tropism“…. unlike previous editions where there was a split ex-bourbon and ex-sherry, this year focused almost exclusively on ex-sherry casks – with the Clynelish the one exception (hence why it was clearly the place to begin!)

The guest artist selected was Gesine Arps, who is a painter, sculptor and poet born in Hannover, Germany in 1964. As they explain:

Guided by a dreamy and sensual meditation, her works in luminous hues, enhanced with natural pigments, crystal powder, gold and silver leaf, combine with all the freedom of dreamlike plant motifs, animal figures, human silhouettes and multiple symbols. From her colorful and shimmering canvases emerges a peaceful, warm vitality, which invites you to take a voluptuous poetic stroll.

My journey through the Artist Series #12 took the following order:

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LMdW Artist #8 – Bunnahabhain 35 year 47.9%

La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 is all about exploring unique casks which represent the artistry and character of their distilleries – be it in a non-Sherry or Sherry matured avatar. The Sherry range was adorned with most gorgeous labels created by Japanese artist Takehiko Sugawara.

At our Whisky Live Sinagapore 2018 tasting, this Bunnahabhain was the ‘penultimate’ dram in the series – both the oldest and most certainly the most expensive at SGD 1,999.

While we had only a wee nip, were left with the following impressions…

Bunnahabhain 35 year (1979/2018) Sherry Cask#9521 47.9% (472 bottles)

  • Nose – A lovely soft understated quality, complex with many nuanced layers – a bit medicinal, a bit floral, a bit of fruit, a hint of spice, even a herbal quality with a tinge of saline
  • Palate – Very soft and light, incredibly smooth, the palate was completely in character with the aromas – beautiful
  • Finish – Long yet subtle

Don’t laugh but what first struck me is how “nice” this whisky is! Exceedingly nice. I’ve been disappointed with older Bunnahabhain’s before but not this one.

What do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say about this whisky?

  • Nose – Voluptuous, concentrated. Irresistible notes of emery cloth, tincture of iodine, heady flowers (purple lilac, geranium), cocoa beans and leather provide a lot of fabric and depth to the first. At aeration, it becomes more fruity (orange, fig, apricot), spicy (cinnamon, grated ginger) and exotic (passion, mango). Balsamic, it extends on eucalyptus, cardamom and even basil
  • Palate – Creamy, smooth. True delicacy, the attack in mouth oscillates between the candy with the violet, the blood oranges, the dark chocolate, the liquorice and the dried fruits (date, nuts). With a lot of freshness, the mid-palate is fruity (black grape), liquorice (stick) and honey (linden). These tones precede little bourbon vanilla, ripe bananas and cloves.
  • Finish – Long, fluffy. It preserves and preserves intact every flavor unveiled by the mouth. Then, as and when, she fully satisfies her desire for exoticism (passion, mango, guava). In retro-olfaction, coffee with milk, crushed strawberries, blueberries and ginger permeate the palate. The empty glass is resinous (pine, sweet of the Vosges) and empyreumatic (eucalyptus).

—- From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

If you are curious, here are a few more Bunnahabhain‘s sampled over the years…

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LMdW Artist #8 – Glenlivet 10 year 64.1%

Next in La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series 8 was a classic Sherry styled Glenlivet…

We sampled it at Whisky Live Singapore 2018’s VIP Room – just a wee nip but it was worth it.

Glenlivet 10 year (2007/2018) 1st Fill Sherry Cask#900214 Batch #2 64.1% (308 bottles)

  • Nose – Fresh, forward and just a tinge shy, nuts and berries, a hint of sweet flowers too
  • Palate – New style sherry with a bit of “oomph!” – far more on the palate than nose with much more nuts and dry fruits along with juicy plums, cherries and dates
  • Finish – Dry spice with some serious sherry lingering

While its nose was a bit shy, there was nothing shy on the palate. We were rewarded with a lovely rich quality. Robust and full flavoured, it did not disappoint.

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say? Well… their website currently features a slightly different bottle… However it too sounds like a mighty fine dram.

But is it worth the price? Just to put in perspective, a bottle of this Glenlivet would put you back SGD 380.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with Sherry

Want more Glenlivet? Read on…

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