For once, it is a French whisky that I am offering you to taste today in my armchair club. It is the rare UISCE DE PROFUNDIS BA from BENJAMIN KUENTZ (you know the French John Glaser).
Moreover, I have chosen to leave the hearth of my fireplace to move my club chair into the captain's cabin of the Amphoris to brave the Breton swell.
Because yes, today's tasting has not only an exploratory character of research and development laboratory but also a marine character (but we will come back to that).
First of all, let's get to know this unique whisky aged for 1 year in 20 metres of water off the island of Ouessant (after the first 3 more "ordinary" years in oak casks).
It is the result of a French distillate and the (crazy) bet of a start-up (AMPHORIS, specialised in the ageing of wine under the sea) and a whisky adventurer (Benjamin KUENTZ): to test the effect of iodine, tides and pressure on barrels and bottles of whisky. Even Tournesol would not have thought of this to delight Captain Haddock's taste buds. Pure research and development, more often encountered in the whisky world on different wine casks or other spirits than on a real risk of losing distillate in an atypical warehouse.
The least we can say is that the sea is merciless and that Benjamin should perhaps offer a bottle to the Proëlla in the Lampaul cemetery (a small monument which reminds us of the heavy tribute paid to the sea by the Ouessantins - editor's note), because there was a risk of loss and loss there was! On the first batch underwater, only 125 bottles could be taken and marketed out of the 300 underwater, and, on the second batch (the one of our tasting of the day), only 318 bottles were taken out of the water out of the 800 underwater: corks too hermetic without interest, too porous allowing too much seawater to pass through, or completely ineffective against the pressure, alcoholic fish, and what not... So, we can clearly say that Poseidon's part is more important than that of the Angels.
But when you see the result, you can say to yourself that the price of the unique is well worth it. Moreover, something that every whisky lover knows is impossible (except if you forget to recork a bottle, which is not going to go in favour of the distillate), Benjamin has found a way to age whisky in a bottle. A magician!
So what does this Uisce de Profundis with its very light golden colour look like?
Let's go back to taste our whisky on the Amphoris off Ouessan.
As we dipped our nose in the glass, the boat was sailing on a rather calm and usual sea. This whisky will give off a certain warmth (like that of the captain's cabin). It has aromas of ripe pear and peach. It will be warm and with clear sweet notes. It has a hint of smoke, although it is not peaty whisky at all. On the other hand, it will remain very discreet about its marine and saline character and can almost raise questions about the impact of underwater ageing.
On the other hand, it is at the moment when it enters the mouth that everything happens and the storm is unleashed!
The boat begins to feel the effects of the swell in heavy seas. Like the waves of Lampaul Bay on a stormy day, the unique tasting of this whisky comes and goes in the mouth.
First of all, you drink the cup as if turned by a big warm wave. This whisky does not have a salty character, but rather a salty taste (some so-called salty Scotch whiskies have to worry about this). The first impression is clearly salty and warm.
Then, a lull in the sea allows us to discover an aroma of ripe and sweet pear and caramel. The whisky then becomes unctuous in the mouth.
The boat pitches and a surf hits it again. The salty notes return to the palate and give our sweet caramel a taste of salted butter from Brittany.
Again a lull allows us to discover spices (pepper and cinnamon) but a third and final backwash signals the descent of the whisky into the abyss of the throat.
Personally, if it's not perhaps a future day trying to drink a whisky on the bow of a ship in the middle of a storm, I have doubts that another whisky can make such an effect! And it's French!
Like the tasting, the finish is thunderous. The Uisce de Profundis leaves a honeyed and sweet taste over a medium long period. On the other hand, and it must certainly be the only one to do this, it leaves an iodized taste on the lips over a very long period of time.
This whisky is meant to be gastronomic and one can imagine that it will sublimate oysters (Breton) or violets (also quite an experience) to be tried for the end of year festive tables (if you manage to find some!!).
It is with iodized lips and hair in battle that I return in front of my fireplace for new tastings.