Michel Couvreur Couvreur's Clearach Single Malt Whisky
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In the 1950’s, Michel Couvreur, originally from Belgium, landed in Burgundy to make and market wine there. He took frequent trips to England and Scotland to sell his wines but was always particularly drawn to Scotland for the fishing and hunting. Eventually, he decided to move to Scotland in 1964 and became enamored with the production of whisky, from the selection of the most ancient strains of cereals to seeking out extremely rare Sherry casks for aging. It became Michel’s dream to make his own unique Scotch whiskies, but unfortunately, times were changing; many of these old methods were being replaced by new, cheaper ones, swapping the old, traditionally-used Sherry casks for more cost-effective steel or plastic vessels. Because of this, Michel decided to return to France in the 1970's to be nearer to where the Sherry casks originate, digging his own cellar in the hillsides of Bouze-lès-Beaune in the heart of the Côte-d'Or, Burgundy.
Here, about midway between the Andalusian vineyards and the Scottish Highlands, Michel Couvreur continues on the tradition of maturing his whiskies in these rare, old casks. Lots of time and money is spent searching out old Pedro Ximénez, Palomino, and Vin Jaune casks as Michel believes what was in the barrel previously represents up to 90% of the final quality of the whisky. Extensive barrel aging, tasting, and monitoring are required to extract these old wine complexities hidden in the casks, and according to Couvreur, this is one of the reasons their whiskies are so attractive to many wine drinkers. Unfortunately, Michel passed away in August 2013, but lucky for us, he shared many of his secrets with his wife, Marthe, and daughter, Alexandra, as well as his long-time employee and confident, Jean-Arnaud Frantzen, and his son-in-law, Cyril Deschamps. They are now entrusted to carry on the legacy of the true “Last of the Mohicans" of artisanal Scotch whisky.
Country: Burgundy, France
Tasting note: Produced from malt distilled in Scotland and matured between 2 to 3 years in fresh PX sherry casks. Slightly cloudy, pale gold/ brassy colour. Mildly prickly, restrained opening sniff. Meek breakfast cereal aromas, followed by hints of dried fruit and a faint rubbery edge. Doesn't really budge even after several minutes coaxing in the glass. Clean, dryish, light to medium bodied profile delivers a malty, cereal mid palate, thinning out towards the finish which is vanilla wafer like and carried by the spices. Simple and raw.43% Alc./Vol.