And here we are reconfirmed. That's why today I'm going to stay in the center of France to taste a new French whisky distilled in the Aveyron at Laguiole by the recent TWELVE distillery: ANDESITE, aged in LEDAIG casks (and if you read my adventures you know that LEDAIG.....).
But before that let me tell you how I tasted it.
One of the first mornings of confinement, I left within the limit of the kilometer allowed by law to get some air in the forest and eventually find two or three ceps.
I followed the instructions that pass from generation to generation: I went in the direction of the haunted castle whose name is not mentioned, took the path just to the right of the cherry tree cross, entered the forest just after the big bend, took the big oak tree on the last right and found the clearing surrounded by chestnut trees.
The great generational secrets you know! Nobody had passed here yet except maybe a deer and indeed, I found myself in front of a nice flowerbed of ceps.
Thus, with my pockets full of mushrooms and chestnuts, I continued my way through the woods. After 5 minutes, I approached the ruins of the castle whose name is not mentioned. Worthy of a castle in Scotland, it is said to be haunted by a young girl. After having been abandoned by his prince, she would have let herself die of grief and that since then she would haunt the ruins.
As I approached the castle half masked by the morning mist, I had the impression that smoke was coming out of it. Thinking that my eyes were playing a trick on me, I continued to approach the entrance and soon realized that it wasn't my eyes and there was smoke.
So, curious, and although it was not peat smoke (which had guided me to beautiful adventures in the west of Scotland) I take my courage in both hands and I enter the ruins. Moreover I knew very well that it was not haunted because I came there several times but you never know.
Entering what must have been the old dining room of the castle, no ghost but a man in front of a fire (smoke...). Seeing me arriving, he does not seem nevertheless surprised or astonished! He tells me that we met the week before at the French spirits fair! But of course, I recognize him: Florent from the TWELVE distillery in Laguiole. I ask him what he is doing in this remote corner of Cantal. He tells me that in love with France, he has decided to return to Aubrac to join his 3 other acolytes of the distillery (Maïlys, Vincent and Alexandre) and the former Convent of Laguiole which shelters him on the way back from Paris.
When he sees my bag full of mushrooms, he tells me that he thinks he has what it takes to accompany a good pan-fry, a peated whisky not yet commercialized (scheduled for mid-November 2020). Indeed we can imagine that this can go well together.
The time to start cooking the ceps (prepared and spread in the pan with a knife...Laguiole -NDLR-), he tells me a little about the new Laguiole distillery. He tells me that the adventure began between 2013 and 2014 with other Norman friends (!!) who decided to produce a whisky in the Aubrac at 1000 m altitude (in the Aveyron -dept 12 as the number of creators of the project-NDLR-).
During the cooking time, he also tells me how the choice of Laguiole was made in relation to the resemblance of Aubrac with Scotland (mountains, greenery, peat bogs) and especially in relation to the exceptional place that was to house the distillery (the Presbytery of the Angels and the convent serving as an ageing cellar under the supervision of a virgin with child).
As the porcini mushrooms were beginning to look very appetizing, Florent took out a 50 cl bottle of a pure and clear yellow liquid. It seemed quite different from other new darker single malts proposed by the brand since it has had the right (beyond the minimum three years required) to offer something other than malt water: the BASALTE (aged in red wine, Pedro Ximenes and Rum casks and then "finished" in Sauternes casks) and the ALBARISA (aged entirely in Pedro Ximenes casks).
No this morning, he remembers my taste for peated whiskies (PEAT DREAM anyway) and suggests that I accompany the pan with a piece of fourme de Laguiole and roasted chestnuts from the new ANDESITE (peated).
He explains to me that his wish was to produce a distillate with a peaty taste but also that he faced the impossibility to produce it locally. Indeed it was impossible to use a local barley dried with Aubrac peat (which is abundant in the area) because it was preserved and protected.
He explains to me that the final choice had been made to age the TWELVE distillate, produced from barley from the Malterie des Volcans (63) in barrels that had contained for 15 years (enough to impregnate it well) peated whisky from the island of Mull: LEDAIG (from the TOBERMORY distillery).
The mushrooms are cooked and the chestnuts roasted and it's time to taste them.
First of all you have to see what it announces.
Flying over the glass one can detect the barley quite clearly (showing a little the youthfulness of the distillate).
Nevertheless, when you push the nose deeper into the glass, you enter an orchard in autumn. A smell of ripe pears and apples arrives, accompanied by a smell of toasted grain. A certain freshness can be detected. After the second passage the freshness will become more peppery and pungent. On the third passage it will warm up with the smell of raisins and above all the peat that we were expecting.
On the palate, although it is still a little young, it is very fruity and mellow. It has strong peppery notes first on the palate and then on the tongue. There are beautiful pear notes as well as a slight hint of peat in the background. By keeping the whisky in the mouth, one discovers the sweetness of honey.
Once swallowed, it leaves a fruity and fresh note for a few moments.
Accompanied by well-cooked porcini mushrooms, it will soften and bring out the peaty and sweet notes; chestnuts, for their part, will clearly bring out the pear notes.
While we were enjoying this beautiful distillate, we heard a cracking and then a thud. A stone from the tower had just fallen a few metres from us. Knowing a little about the history of the place, I hastened to tell it to Florent who told me that it was now time to leave the camp.
For me it was time for me to finish my authorized time and for my host of the day to continue on his way towards the Aubrac not far now.