French Whisky? Michel Couvreur Special Vatting Malt Whisky 45%

Is this whisky Scottish? French? Belgian? Spanish???

Michel Couvreur is Belgium. He and his team do not make whisky. Instead they buy “clearach” (a high proof distillate) from Scottish distilleries, import it to Bouze-les-Beaune, Burgandy, France where they are matured in small sherry casks (Pedro Ximenez and Palomino) from the Andalusia region of Spain, that have been “impregnated” with 25 years aging via traditional soleras.

The result? A most peculiar dram indeed…

First off, before we get to the tasting notes, you see that red wax cover? It took us considerable effort to chip away to remove… to discover a cork that required a corkscrew to pop out… like a bottle of wine.

Michel Couvreur Special Vatting Malt Whisky 45% (Bottle No 0941)

  • Nose – It was like peat and red wine collided, the tight red berries, spicy, then the aromas practically vanished to return quite sweet almost sugary
  • Palate – Plum, very sweet, a spice hit then mellows, black cherries, luscious taking on a very sweet quality
  • Finish – Dry, bitter, spice

We gave it some time to see if the character shifted… to find it settled into a super sweet yet light on the nose and a slightly odd quality on the palate. It was frankly a confusing whisky, one to have a conversation and pause with… shifting from being like red wine to white wine. Many couldn’t make up their mind whether they actually liked it… however the general consensus was we didn’t dislike it.

Described as being made by blending 3 peaty single malts from Scotland, “raised up” with sherry oak cask and then bottled in French Burgandian caves. For us, the peat was only there at the very start and then practically disappeared.

This whisky was picked up by one of our Whisky Ladies during her many globe trotting jaunts and opened in December 2017.

What all did we sample in our Après-ski:

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Bailie Nicole Jarvie (BNJ) NAS 40%

Our January 2015 Mumbai’s whisky tasting club‘s session was hosted by our resident expert and the first whisky sampled was the Scottish blend Bailie Nicole Jarvie – better known as BNJ.

As per our usual approach, we first blind tasted the whisky and then revealed it to then resample and discuss further.

Bailie Nicole Jarvie (BNJ) NAS 40 %

  • 20150115-BNJColour – Pale
  • Nose – Very light, honey, initially had more the scent of fruit than anything specific, then a hint of banana emerged, and vanilla. Post the initial tasting as it settled further to a delightful baked apple pie!
  • Palate – No palate complexity, had a sense of being watered down, slightly bitter and frankly a let down
  • Finish – Not much… if you were polite, you would call it delicate

Before revealing the whisky, we were challenged to identify what it reminded us of – it seemed most like a Glenmorangie – recalling the Nectar D’Or. The unveiling:

  • Scottish blend from Glenmorangie – bravo to our identifying prowess!
  • Our host shared it has been an ‘original’ blended malt long before vatted malt Monkey Shoulder came into picture, a ‘cult’ amongst Scottish whisky drinkers
  • Personally I love the packaging! A pity the whisky wasn’t more interesting…

We did let it breath further and revisited a few times during the course of the evening to see if anything new emerged. Other than the baked apple pie in the nose surfacing, it remained consistently light, pleasant and unremarkable.

Curious, I found out a little bit more information:

  • Blend of old scotch whisky from Lowland, Highland and Island whiskies – according to the bottle notes, all over 8 years
  • While boasts of having the “highest malt content of any blended Scotch Whisky” it seems that it is 60% single malt / 40% grain whisky
  • Blended by Glenmorangie and named after the Walter Scott novel – Rob Roy
  • Considered largely unknown outside of Scotland, was around in 1921 and quite popular in the early 20th century
  • Was re-launched in 1994 in the current avatar shown here

Our final conclusion? It is a mild-mannered whisky that could prompt more conversation than the Glenmorangie 10 year but in that same category. In other words… pleasant but nothing spectacular.

Other whiskies in our January tasting session:

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