By Serve Valentin
Batch 017 : Irish Single Malt Whiskey – Bushmills 2014 :
Bushmills 2014/2021 (47.3%, Dumangin J. Fils, ratafia finish, Batch 017, 282 bottles) Four stars
The house Dumangin are Champagne makers in Chigny, near Reims. As is traditional over there, they also make ‘ratafia champenois’, which is a ‘muté’ wine, that is to say that they stop fermentations by adding eau-de-vie. The best ratafia makers would then let their output mature in oak casks, although the majority would use stainless steel. The house Dumangin would then let various sourced whiskies being finished in some empty ratafia casks, in this very case they kept some six years old Bushmills for twelve further months. This is really a first for me, thank you Philippe… Colour: by the way, I like good ratafia a lot, it’s become fashionable again. The colour is gold. Nose: I would tend to believe that Bushmills’ usual buoyant fruitiness and the ratafia would overlap in small parts, which is absolutely fine, on the contrary. So no dissonances whatsoever here, rather apricots and raisins, tiny touches of rose petals, rambutans, whiffs of jasmine and honeysuckle, a few small mangos as expected, and probably some overripe pears. A small chalky side too, not sure where that came from. From the cellar or the chai? Mouth: you could almost call this Bushmills plus, or believe that the finishing in ratafia sped-up the maturation. Feels like a ten or a twelve, really. Chalky raisins, stewed peaches, honey sauce, a touch of olive oil, oranges, a little mango ‘if we must’… It’s all very good. Finish: long and rather more on cakes and tartes. Apricot tarte covered with honey, ground cinnamon and roasted chopped almonds. Hungry yet? Oranges and a little ginger from the ratafia cask in the aftertaste. Comments: it does not feel like a finishing at all and that’s no bad news in my book. I’m usually not a sucker for regional experiments, but in this very case, it worked a treat. Ratafia, of course!
SGP:641 – 87 points.
Batch 016 : Irish Single Grain Whiskey – Cooley 2009 :
Cooley 2009/2021 ‘Single Grain’ (47.1%, Dumangin J. Fils, ratafia finish, Batch 016, 258 bottles)
Two stars and a half
Same set-up, a twelve months finish in an ex-ratafia champenois cask. The house’s website is suggesting that this would be single grain Irish whiskey distilled twice at Cooley’s, which may sound a little odd, but remember that’s what they do/did indeed at Cooley’s. Colour: darker gold. Nose: indeed, feels like grain, with some butterscotch, touches of varnish, popcorn, Frappuccino (don’t laugh), toffee, then these earthy raisins that we had already found in the Bushmills. Surely a fatter grain whisky than your average grain whisky, now remember that if this is Cooley’s Greenore indeed, it’s maize. Mouth: this feeling of coffee-schnaps, easter eggs, syrups, wine gums, coconut balls… Well, this is not quite for me. I should have tried this one before the awesome Bushmills, this feels a bit like if they had added a second layer of sweetness. Finish: short, sweet. Comments: some double-sweet grain whisky, how funny. I’m sure this style will find its afficionados.
SGP:730 – 78 points.