By Martine Nouet
A French exclusivity : Whisky – Scottish single malt, French single malt, Irish single grain and Irish malt whiskey – finished in Champagne Ratafia casks. Perfect for a New Year dram !
Here are some samples I received from Champagne Dumangin company. They produce champagne and also a “ratafia”. The ratafia de champagne is a mistelle based on grape must fortified with champagne based spirits. But it is not categorized as a fortified wine. It is high in alcohol (18%). Dumangin Ratafia champenois is aged for a minimum of 6 years in casks which had previously mature Northern Rhône red wines. It is a sweet drink, which can be paired with certain cheeses or fruit tarts. It has been granted a Protected Geographic Indication (IGP in French). The ratafia cask reveals notes of dried fruit, honey, plums, pears in the whiskies.
Whisky de France – La Piautre Distillery – Batch 014 – 46,3% – Dumangin & Fils
distilled on 06/2017- bottled on 11/2021 – Finished 15 months in Ratafia champenois casks –
Colour : Ripe gold with apricot hues.
Nose : Sweet. Fruity, sultanas, green gage plum. A note of fresh oak.
Palate : Sweet and smooth. Raisins coated in milk chocolate. Juicy fruit. Pear nectar, a touch of pear drop. A dust of ground ginger.
Finish : Short, fruity all the way. Fresh almond aftertaste.
A flavoursome whisky, a concentrate of fruit. Very pleasant.
Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Craigellachie – Batch 015 – 48% – Dumangin & Fils
distilled on 12/2007-bottled on 09/2021 – Double barrelled in Ratafia champenois casks –
Colour : Golden with pink hues.
Nose : Malty and fruity. Pears poached in honey Pear drop. Raisins.
Palate : Crisp at start then getting smoother. Sweet and satin-like. Pear drop, vanilla syrup, caramelized hazelnuts. Soft spices (ginger).
Finish : Spicy, dry, soothing on a nutty touch.
The ratafia casks have brought in more fruit.
Single Grain Irish Whiskey – Batch 016 – 47,1% – Dumangin & Fils
distilled at Cooley Distillery – 2009-11/2021 – Double barrelled in Ratafia champenois casks –
Colour: Ripe gold
Nose : Sweet, rich vanilla notes. Tangerine, bergamot. A hint of vetiver. Oak is well integrated.
Palate : Thick texture, velvety. Smooth, orange blossom honey, sappy. Oak shows up while it was restrained on the nose. Grape juice. Touch of pineapple. Peppery.
Finish : Sweet with a slight spicy touch. Lingering.
A interesting combination for this single grain whiskey. The ratafia casks have enriched it with orange notes and spices. And they have given length to the finish.
Water does not do it any favor though.
Single Malt Irish Whiskey – Batch 017 – 47,3% – Dumangin & Fils
Distilled at Bushmills Distillery – 2014-11/2021 – 12 months finish in casks of ratafia champenois –
Colour : Bright gold
Nose : Malty, creamy. Vanilla custard. Apples stewed in honey. A citrussy note. Lemon posset.
Palate: Smooth, sweet. Distinct pear drop note. Creamy and fruity.
Finish : Drying on ground ginger.
The ratafia casks obviously bring in sweeter notes and that distinctive pear drop flavour (in all samples).
These four samples have some common aromatic features which have been imparted by the ratafia casks : more sweetness, fruit notes like raisins, pears, honey. And a distinctive pear drop note. Though not a fan of finishes, I must say these ones are quite successful.
My favorite one is the Single Grain Irish Whiskey.