Stephan de Bolle, the spirits director at importer Cinoco visited the Destillerie des Menhirs just south of Quimper in French Brittany last summer, tasted several cask samples and immediately decided to get his hands on a unique one. This French single grain – from buckwheat, mind you – matured for no less than 8 years. Distilled in January 2013, it first spent several years in a former cognac cask, then crossed over to a port cask and then went back to the original cognac cask! Seems unique to me. Bottled on 1st September 2021, the cask yielded 476 bottles. I had the privilege of tasting it at the whisky festival in Ghent and was immediately sold. By the way, did you know that buckwheat is not actually a real grain, but actually a plant that is grown for its seeds from which flour is then made? It's actually a 'pseudo grain', really!
Well, this one is great! Beautiful dark sweet notes of flambéed banana, baked apples and even a hint of marzipan. But there is also, completely in the background, a salty edge to it. Grapefruit and a hint of red fruit precede the herbs. These manifest themselves as cinnamon, paprika powder and even oregano. Oh, my, this is a complex nose!
It's oily, almost creamy. Immediately a panoply of flavors. It covers the whole spectrum, bar umami. Sweet on red and dark fruit, salty with something medicinal even, bitter from the tannins of the wood and something like chestnuts. Reminds me of cough syrup with a lot of woodsmoke to give it depth. And spicy too. This makes me happy.
The finish is wonderfully long, spicy and sweet with a slightly drying effect on the deathbed.
Oh, my! Pseudo grain or not, this is a unique taste experience.