[Review] Michel Couvreur - Overaged 43%

Still keen to pursue my whisky journey, I decided to celebrate my birthday a couple of weeks ago with this bottle of French whisky, bought by my parents last summer. Even if this bottle comes from a French company, it is actually not the most French thing you can drink. The reason why is very simple, Michel Couvreur was a Belgian whisky enthusiast who used to source barley distillate from Scottish distilleries as well as quality sherry casks from southern Spain, and ended up combining both in his man-made cellar in Burgundy where the end product would be left to age for a while.

Michel Couvreur started his career in the wine business. He bought the cellars in Bouze-lès-Beaune in 1956 before moving his business to Scotland in 1964 as he was mainly selling Burgundy wine to English and Scottish wealthy customers. His initiation to whisky happened courtesy of a Scottish soldier, owner of the Glenlivet distillery at the time. This newly found passion took him back to his cellars in Burgundy where he decided to give whisky-making a go. His philosophy was to create craft whiskies like the Victorians used to make. What does this concretely mean? Well, Couvreur started growing Bere barley (an old type of barley, with lower yield but richer flavour) in Orkney and went to southern Spain looking for top quality Sherry casks. He then sent both the casks and barley distillate to his cellars where he would marry both together. He also liked to use ex-Sherry casks to age the spirit as this was the predominant type of whisky maturation in Scotland up until the late 60s and according to him, 90% of the whisky comes from the cask used to age it, the barley distillate accounting for the other 10%.

Couvreur unfortunately died in 2013 but his family and his apprentice continue to perpetuate his whisky making tradition.

Let's now get to the bottle I have which is called Overaged. The description on the label states the following:" Distilled in Scotland. Vatted from various very old whiskies and traditionally ennobled by maturation with sherry oak casks in our Burgundian caves." As usual with Couvreur, the name of the distilleries used are not mentioned. The bottle is also sealed with a wine cork and a layer of wax. To open it, I got a good tip online which worked perfectly with my bottle: do not try to remove the wax first, just go through it directly with a corkscrew (mind the bits of wax before removing the cork fully) The Overaged was bottled at 43% (reduced with Scottish water that the company has shipped directly from Loch Katrine or Pentland Hills). It is of course natural colour and the filtration is kept to a minimum as you can still see some sediment floating around. Hard to get more authentic!

Nose: Rich dried fruit, oily barley, nutty, oak spice, hints of burnt caramel, chocolate and wood smoke. Different and intriguing...

Palate: Thick and oily, rich with dried fruit, sherry, dark fruit, oak wood, nutty with a hint of spice and a little bitterness heading toward the finish. I am definitely at a crossroad between whisky and cognac, and I love it!

Finish: Still some dark fruit sweetness, hints of smoke and bitterness, a bit dry and oaky. Very enjoyable.

With water: The nose is fresher, less rich and round but more acidic. The palate is of course less thick but spicier and this is the same for the finish. Water takes a lot away in my opinion and at 43% it doesn't really need it antway.

All in all, a very different and interesting whisky which does taste of quality. It isn't the easiest to find nor is it the cheapest out there but I would definitely recommend you give it a go if ever you come across a bottle. I now need to see if I can get hold of any other bottles from Michel Couvreur to see how they compare. Santé! 


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