Whisky Live Paris, 24-26 September 2016, Paris, France
For the photo gallery, click here
From end of September to the end of the year, a succession of whisky fairs take place all around Europe, including new ones. After an absence of 6 years since my last Whisky Live Paris, I had the opportunity of attending this event again. I was looking forward going there, as it was very conveniently located in the Docks, la Cité de la Mode et du Design, at walking distance from La Gare de Lyon, and because the organiser, la Maison du Whisky (LMDW) is celebrating its 60th birthday, with many new exclusive single cask bottlings.
|Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design where the Whisky Live took place (top) with a nice and clear signaletic (bottom)|
In the past, used to open considerably later than the scheduled time (at least 30 min), but this time, the gate opened on time. Another very positive change was the stand: glamorous, colourful and easy to navigate between them.
Everything was clearly indicated, spittoons everywhere, numerous water bottles and water fountains.
Reminder: The impressions reported here were my notes taken during the event and most of the whiskies will be tasted again in the standard and controlled conditions.
My first move to the VIP corner, in order to try tasting the famous Benriach 1966 from Gordon & MacPhail, that was highly acclaimed on the French speaking forum of www.whisky-distilleries.info. Unfortunately, all were consumed during the first two days of the Whisky Fair, and then selected the Redbreast 25 YO Single Cask for the 60th Anniversary of LMDW. The whisky is heavier than the 21 YO, more sherry, on tannins and dried fruits. The sherry was strong initially, but not dominating, with the fruitiness gaining in strength over time. Very good. The BenRiach 1997 for LMDW was a “classic” unpeated BenRiach, round, well balanced and with nice yellow fruits. The Chichibu 2010 Unpeated for LMDW was quite young and oaky. This was followed by the GlenDronach 1993 23 YO cask 447 for LMDW, a round and smooth single malt, spicy, on red berries, some dried fruits, orange and tangerine. The balance and smoothness was very good.
|The VIP corner with some Japanese single casks for the 60th Anniversary of LMDW|
La Maison du whisky had many excellent single casks bottlings of Ben Nevis by the distillery and this one was very good, elegant, subtle, on slightly dry and mineral sherry, with some light aromas of peach and apricots. The previous bottlings for LMDW were more intense, but less subtle.
I left the VIP corner to visit the main exhibition hall and stopped at the stand of the Swedish whisky box, starting with the dry peaty and slightly aromatic The 2nd Step Collection 01, followed by the slightly peated but very sherry 2nd Step Collection 02, heavily sherried, on orange, orange peel and fresh rubber. The early Day 002 was a moderately peated and slightly winey. Finally, I could taste a pre-release of the future standard bottling of Box. While production started only 4 years ago, all these single malts were surprisingly matured, without any new make sweetness. It tasted more like a Scotch single malt 2-3x its age.
|Several expressions of the Swedish Single Malt Box|
Back to the VIP corner to meet some friends, I followed their recommendation and tried the Bowmore 1998 18 YO Sherry by Wilson & Morgan for LMDW, a mellow, smooth, maritime and slightly salty Bowmore, with a round and sweet sherry influence of candied orange and tangerine.
|A highly wanted whisky: The Bowmore 18 YO from Wilson & Morgan|
As I have not tried Silver Seal whiskies for a couple of years, I could not resist tasting the 25 YO Glen Garioch 1990 La Norma, an excellent Glen Garioch combining a waxy-grassy mouth feel with an aromatic and mineral peat smoke and a lovely complexity. One of the very best recent Glen Garioch I have tasted. The Highland Park 1987 28 YO Aida was sweet, fruity and smooth, very easy drinking but slightly weak. Finally, the Clynelish 22 YO was another very smooth whisky, waxy, slightly juicy, with some yellow fruits.
|Several Silver Seal bottling, including an excellent Glen Garioch on the right side.|
On the left of Silver Seal was the German Company Sansibar. I followed their recommendation and started with their 1973 Single Grain of Invergordon, a mellow and very fruity whisky, with lots of peach, on apricots, cooked cereals and a slight floral fragrance. Complex and well balanced. Their Speyside 1975 40 YO was rumoured to be an old BenRiach: it was fruity, floral, on berries, blackcurrant, melon, vanilla and heather honey. Very good.
|Some of the Sansibar whiskies|
The Laphroaig 1997 Berry Bros & Rudd for LMDW was a peaty, smoky, maritime, intense and complex Laphroaig, on seaweeds and slight medicinal flavours. Very good. The 18 YO Ardbeg Straight from the cask for LMDW was a mellow and moderately peaty Ardbeg, slightly maritime, on peat smoke, seaweeds, some bandages and disinfectant.
I moved then to the American Whiskey section to taste the range of Westland US single malt, starting with the light and fresh American Oak, before moving to the rich, round and intense sherry wood, on tangerine, orange and strawberries. The peated was made with Scottish peat and the first batches of single malt kilned with American peat have been produced about 2 years ago. Finally, I tasted the Garryana made with oak grown in the state of Washington (Seattle). As these trees cannot be cut, they have to wait until the fall down naturally in order to use them. This oak gives a more creamy flavours, but as well more apricots and peach. All the Westland whiskies were pleasant to drink, matured and with an oily to very oily mouth feel. It is prepared with brewer yeast, matured in air-dried oak casks slightly toasted and with different type of malts, including chocolate malts.
|The core range of Westland American single malt whiskey|
In the Irish section, the new Redbreast Lustau edition is a rather young pot still (around 10 years old) Redbreast, in order to reduce the influence of the sherry cask on the red breast distillate. The Jameson distiller’s safe (43%) was bottled at a rather young age (7-8 years) to allow the work of the distiller’s to be more apparent. The result is a rather oaky and spicy Jameson, with a strong vanilla flavour. The Cooper’s Croze was a mellow, complex, rich, fruity Jameson, slightly spicy, fruity (melon) and creamy, with a nice balance and intensity. Much more to my liking than the Distiller’s Safe and close to some recent Irish Single Malts. Tullamore Dew has released a new 14 YO Single Malt, intense, spicy, slightly oaky and with a robust body.
|The selection of Redbreast including the new Lustau|
The new and final release of the Devil’s casks (Batch III) has been released. While the previous one was 100% Oloroso, this version is a marriage between Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. The whisky is thick, slightly dry and mineral, thick, chewy, on strawberries, red berries, seaweeds, smoke and dried fruits (dates). The Laphroaig Lore is a vatting of Laphroaig of different ages, between approximately 7-8 years and 20 years. The result is a subtle, complex, smooth and moderately peated Laphroaig, with a lot of finesse.
|The stand with the Bowmore Devil's cask and the Laphroaig Lore|
The Douglas Laing Timorous beastie was a light, floral blended malt whisky, slightly weak, on peat, salt and honey. I find it slightly weak and the 40 YO version was not available for tasting.
The new Lagavulin 25 YO 51.7% was a very good Lagavulin, 100% sherry matured. The malt was complex, mellow to very mellow, smoky to very smoky, moderately peated, on dried fruits, orange, some cinnamon, nutmeg and seaweeds. A smokier, but slightly less intense, round and peaty than the latest release of the 21 YO.
|One of the most wanted whisky of the show: The Lagavulin 25 YO|
Glenfiddich will launch soon two new experimental products, the IPA made exclusively from ex-bourbon casks. It is oaky, spicy and on vanilla, with fruits from the orchards. I liked better the XX, bottled at high strength (47%) and combining Glenfiddich matured in different type of oak casks. It was richer, more intense and complex, creamy and with a nice balance.
|The new experimental Glenfiddich|
The newly released anCnoc 24 YO, a marriage between ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, was floral, round, juicy, slightly sugary, on tangerine, heather honey and orange. The anCnoc Stack is the last official release of peated anCnoc, rather young, on aromatic peat smoke and salted butter. For the 60th anniversary of LMDW, they released a 2005 cask from peated anCnoc: intense, fresh, dry, peaty, aromatic, slightly mineral and austere. A lovely dram that I thoroughly enjoyed.
|The latest anCnoc including the excellent 2005 Single Cask for LMDW|
From Japan, the new blended Nikka 12 YO was very good, intense, complex, on exotic woods, some lacquers, prunes, a slight dry and aromatic peat smoke, as well as some juicy fruits. The new Yoichi and Miyagikyo have not age statement and made mainly with whiskies around 8 years of ago, with some younger and older elements. I could not find in these two malts the complexity and maturity of the previous versions with an age statement.
|A large selection of Nikka whiskies|
The Aultmore 18 YO was floral, spicy, slightly grassy and on vanilla, with light aromas of tangerine. This version had a final maturation for 1 year in ex-sherry casks. I liked much better the 25 years version which spent a further 6 years in sherry casks. The oak spices of the 18 YO have been replaced by sweet and juicy fruity flavours of grape juice, berries, honey, orange and tangerine.
|The Aultmore 25 YO and the full range of Royal Brackla|
The new Glenlivet Cipher was a sweet and juicy, fruity, grassy and on honey, reminding me somewhat of the previous Glenlivet Alpha.
The new Glenlivet Cipher
I took the opportunity of revisiting the Macallan 21 YO Triple matured, which tasted more fruity and juicy, and with a stronger sherry influence than the Macallan 21 YO Fine Oak that I tasted several years ago.
The Highland Park Ice Edition 17 YO is part of a new series that will be followed soon by the fire. Matured exclusively in ex-bourbon casks, it is intense, creamy, on vanilla, some heather honey and juicy oak, as well as slightly smoky.
|The Dalmore 10 YO 2006 for the French market|
The Dalmore 2006 10 YO is a version exclusive for the French market and 100 % ex-bourbon cask matured. It is smooth, complex, well matured, on vanilla, vanilla custard, spices and some tangerine. Very good.
At Balvenie, I could taste the new Balvenie Tun 1509 batch 3, a complex and well balanced Balvenie, on vanilla, heather honey and light sweet fruity aromas from the sherry. Seems like the sherry component is lower than the first batch, or a least less intense. I could also sample an interesting variant of Balvenie, a 25 YO Balvenie full matured in an ex-Islay cask, with a rather salty and slightly peaty influence. Thank you Damian.
|The stand of Balvenie, with the new Packaging for the 21 YO Port Wood (since 2015)|
Slightly further, at Chivas, was the new Chivas Mizunara. The Mizunara is not just a Chivas Regal 12 YO with a finish in ex-mizunara casks, but with the component of the blends selected to “match” the influence of this cask. This Chivas is less spicy than the Chivas Regal 12 YO, more floral and with a noticeable fresh and creamy influence of the Mizunara, with some exotic wood as well. Smoother and quite different from the other Chivas Regal.
|The Chivas Regal with a Japanese Oak (Mizunara) finish|
The Solist Fino at Kavalan was empty, therefore I decided to give a try to the Solist Amontillado: a very good whisky, sweeter than a fino, but also dryer and slightly more mineral than a Pedro Ximenez matured whisky. The flavours were in harmony with the distillate, in this complex, balanced, floral and malty whisky.
|A very good and balanced Kavalan Solist Amontillado|
At Amrut, I decided to taste the Amrut Intermediate sherry, a whisky matured initially for 3 years in ex-bourbon casks, then 2 years in a sherry cask and finally, one last year in an ex-bourbon cask. As the extraction in Bangalore is very intense and the sherry would dominate too much the whisky, Amrut considered that the final maturation in ex-bourbon casks helps to smoothen the sherry influence. The whisky was very round, malty and with a strong, but round and sweet sherry influence.
|The new repackage range of Glen Grant|
Glen Grant has repackaged its brand whiskies this year. The 10 YO is round, smooth and mellow, while the 12 YO was rounder and mellower. The 18 YO is quite juicy, less spicy and floral than the 12 YO, but sweeter as well.
The new BenRiach cask strength was very good, intense, round, fruity and on honey. The 1998 Triple-distilled for LMDW of last year with light, very smooth and fruity, with the sherry which tends to dominate the smoothness.
The Gordon & MacPhail Clynelish 2001 Cask Strength was a very good and smooth sherried Clynelish, with a pleasant waxiness and roundness. Lovely.
The new Scapa Glansa tasted like a rather young version of Scapa, fresh, slightly peaty, and with a strong saltiness. The Glansa is not a Scapa version made with peated barley, but matured in ex-Islay casks. It seems like a few drops of the water of Scapa flow made their ways to the casks.
|The full range of Aberlour available for tasting|
The Aberlour 19 YO for LMDW was a malty Aberlour, on heather honey and a sweet sherry influence. Although it was matured in a first fill sherry cask, the sherry influence was very good and not dominating.
Back to the VIP corner, I tasted a nice intense, peaty and rather complex 18 YO Laphroaig from Sansibar. The Caol Ila 1997 sherry was very juicy and sweet, easy drinking, and rather soft and weak.
The Arran The Bothy is a version matured in quarter cask, nicely matured, malty and slightly floral, with slightly more spices than the core range. The new 18 YO is the Arran with the highest proportion of sherry casks (70%) is complex, well balanced, malty, slightly floral and creamy, with a sweet sherry influence on orange and tangerine.
|The Arran Bothy|
The new Big Peat made with whisky from all active distilleries of Islay is a fresh, young and peaty version of big peat, while the old Big Peat for LMDW was more complex, with a nice lingering peat smoke. The 19 YO Caol Ila Old Particular was a smooth, light, mellow, salty, maritime and moderately peaty Caol Ila.
Although I could feel my palate tired, I took the opportunity of tasting some more whiskies, in particular, world whiskies. The Germany Slyrs is a nice round, well matured whisky, matured exclusively in ex-bourbon casks. The Slyrs 51 is a version at the high strength of 51% and it is a vatting of the different styles and finished of Slyrs whisky. Finally, I could taste there the sold out 12 YO Slyrs, a more complex version, mellower and less round, with nice fruity flavours of melon and yellow fruits.
|The German Single Malt of Slyrs|
At BenRomach, I had the opportunity of tasting the new Benromach 35 YO, in a very nice glass decanter. The whisky was mellow, slightly floral, with light fruity flavours and delicate and complex spicy flavours, on cinnamon, some cloves and many other spices.
The Compass Box Deluxe is the new and young (3 YO) blended malt of Compass, made with a tea spoon of 3 years old Clynelish, much older Clynelish and 20 year old Talisker old . A very light whisky, slightly smoky, on honey, sea brine and a very light influence from the wood.
At Macmyra, the Svensk Rök and Bärnstein are very round whiskies, slightly floral and malty, with a light aromatic influence.
|The stand of Macmyra|
The packaging of the Italian of Puni is very nice, however, the content was less to my liking. The whisky was young, sweet, smooth and clean for the Alba version, while the Nero version matured in ex-Islay casks was slightly peaty and salty.
I tasted the full range of Mitchers, starting with a very good, rich and intense Bourbon small batch, with nice flavours of orange, peach, apricots, cinnamon and cloves. The Sour mash was more sour and spicier than the small batch. The Straight Rye was the spiciest of the three, with a nice rye influence, without any excessive peppery or dry flavours. The American Whisky is not a Bourbon, as it has been finished in ex-bourbon casks. It is more creamy, lighter and less spicy than the small batch. The 10 YO Straight Rye was a more mellow version than the Straight Rye, with more soft spices, with a moderate wood influence. The 10 YO Bourbon was slightly more sour, spicier and peppery than the small batch. Very good.
|The core range of Mitcher's whiskies|
The day has been very long, with almost 4 hours of train in the morning, 8 hours spent in the whisky and an additional 3.5 hours for the return train, but the whole day has been very rewarding, with the opportunity of meeting many French whisky friends I have seen for several years, as well as tasting an impressive selection of whiskies, from all regions. The number of special bottlings for the 60th Anniversary of LMWD was huge and I could taste only a part of them. The selection of world whiskies and spirits was also impressive and the organisation flawless.
After 6 years of absence to the whisky live, many changes took place at the organisational level, and in the right direction. I left the Whisky Live 2010 with some deception, but came back from the 2016 with a very high degree of satisfaction and I will try to do my best to come back in 2017.
Whisky Live Paris is an excellent whisky fair, that I can only recommend. For the novice or intermediate whisky amateur, the basic pass should be sufficient, as the selection in the stands is very large, including some rare bottlings. However, in order to taste most of the wanted whiskies, the VIP pass is highly recommended.
Patrick Brossard ©27 September 2016, last edits: 03 October 2016.