Wednesday, June 29, 2016

French Whiskey: Hedgehog & Uberach

I haven't been a huge fan of French whiskey in the past (by which I mean whiskey distilled in France, not the great Scotch aged in France by Michel Couvreur). I've tried a few, but they tend to have very floral and fruity notes which I don't prefer in whiskey. 

Recently, K&L brought in two new French whiskeys, one single malt and one single grain, and offered me some samples, so despite my general skepticism, I thought I'd give them a try.

Hedgehog Single Grain Whiskey, 45% abv ($45)

Distilled at Distillerie de Monsieur Balthazar in central France, Hedgehog whiskey is made from a bourbon-style corn/rye/barley mash. It spent a year in new oak and was then transferred to Cognac barrels for at least three years. There are lots of production details on K&L's Blog.

The nose is grainy and a bit raw. The palate is sweet with lots of raw grain notes. It gets sweeter toward the end and into the finish. The mash may be similar to bourbon, but this whiskey doesn't taste at all like bourbon. It's reminiscent of some of the grain-forward American craft whiskeys. It isn't bad, but it's pretty one dimensional. 

Uberach "Assemblage" Single Malt 42.2% ($60)

This is a lightly peated single malt from Distillerie Bertrand in Alsace. This one is "around six years old." It is a vatting of whiskeys aged in new oak and whiskey aged in Banyuls wine casks. Again, there are more production details and photos on the K&L blog.

The nose on this one has a mix of honey, peat and floral notes. The palate hits you like a 1980s Bowmore with perfume notes, floral notes and sugar syrup. I'm not a fan of the floral/perfume flavor profile so this is a no-go for me.

Suffice it to say, neither of these whiskeys has altered my opinion of French whiskey.

Thanks to K&L for the samples.


tanstaafl2 said...

A bit discouraging as I have both bottles awaiting shipment to me. But I probably like sweet and floral elements more than you so maybe I will at least like the Uberach a bit more than you!

Have you by chance tried anything from another French distillery called Les Domaine des Hautes Glaces? I picked up a single cask bottle from Astor that I thought was interesting and enjoyable to me. it is still young (4-5 years?) and since it is fully matured in a Condrieu cask it is definitely a touch on the sweet side so it may not be your thing. The main brand at the moment from the distillery seems to be Les Moissons (The Harvest I believe based on babelfish) but I haven't tried it.

They also seem to be producing a rye called Vulson. The unaged spirit is called White Rhino and the "aged" version is Old Rhino. It has a year in French oak and three in cognac according to TWE. Not sure the white dog is for me but the Old Rhino sounds intriguing!

sku said...

I had one malt from Les Domaine des Hautes Glaces, and I didn't care for it, but I think it was very young.