The number of Scotch whiskies out there is immense, especially with all of the new distilleries popping up these days. Compared with those established in some other countries, these guys have to follow a whole raft of rules and regulations to be able to produce and bottle their spirit as Scotch. I will not bore you with the details; they can easily be Googled if you would like to find out more. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to try everything produced in Scotland, let alone the world, but I will definitely give it a go. I have found that the best way to do this is to attend whisky tastings and to swap samples with friends. This gives me the opportunity to try a wider variety of not just Scotch, but also other world whiskies, whilst also encouraging less bottle purchasing.
As a little change, I decided to dive into a ‘foreign’ whisky to mix things up. Other distilleries don’t necessarily need to follow such strict rules as we have in Scotland, and thus can be more experimental. It reminds me of the time Phil (the grumpy Springbank-hating Irishman) shared a Bushmills distillery exclusive at a tasting where the liquid was partly matured in acacia wood. I was pretty keen to find out what the whisky under review today may have done to stand out from the crowd. Previously, I have reviewed Japanese and English whiskies, but not any from mainland Europe. This was my chance to change from the norm, or so I thought. For my birthday, friend and fellow Malt contributor Roy gifted me a miniature French whisky that I was very excited to try. As always, I tasted and wrote up my notes before I looked anything up, so as to not influence my experience. That done, I did my usual and looked online for anything interesting I could add to my Malt piece. To my surprise, I realised I had reviewed another Scottish blend!
The whisky in question is the Lascaw 12 Year Old by Distillerie Du Périgord. It is a blended malt composed of imported Scottish whisky, but with a twist: it has been finished in oak barrels that previously held vodka infused with Périgord truffles. Very interesting! However, try as I may, I could not find any more information on the Lascaw composition. I wish there was more transparency but, with the recent changes in the Japanese whisky industry, maybe that is something which will improve in the future across the globe! Roy found this little bottle in a French town named Sarlat, where the distillery is located, in a shop called Cellier Du Périgord. An interesting thing he shared about this distillery’s whiskies is that you will find it in every gift shop and specialised alcohol shop, but almost never see it in the supermarkets. Those shelves are reserved for French-owned Scotch such as Pernod Ricard, La Martinequaise, and Chivas. Information aside, let’s get on with this review!
Lascaw 12 Year Old – review
Colour: shimmering yellow gold.
On the nose: earthy and nutty, reminding me of chanterelle mushrooms with their nuttiness and sweetness. There are deeper notes of hay and ammonia. Very sweet notes of caramels, honey and an artificial sweetness akin to rhubarb and custard sweeties you get at old-school confectioner’s stores. Cereals are present as well as hints of rubber and latex. Damp cardboard and wet leather funk is there; think of an old, well-used leather bag that has been rained on. Small hint of smoked peat with a selection of freeze dried red berries and the ghost of a sweet orange. Burnt hair and a dusty and chalky feeling in the nostrils, almost as if inhaling icing sugar. White pepper gives the smell a light spice sensation.
In the mouth: very sweet with watery caramel, sugar syrup and honey. The dusting of white pepper from the nose translates through, giving the mouth a little spicy touch. Nuttiness is present with mushroom brine that grows slightly astringent with hints of bitterness and tannins. The cereals come in the form of cranachan, a Scottish dessert composed of raspberries, oats, whisky and cream, though the fruit is muted, as suggested from the nose, with the freeze-dried variety. The mouthfeel is oily to begin with but almost instantly starts to dry out. Hint of smoked peat with a creaminess to it. The ghost of an orange from the nose reminds me of orange sugar or sherbet aromas you get wafting through the air in a sweet shop when you feel that sweet tickle on the back of your throat.
The finish on this whisky is very short. I am left feeling I have had a fruit juice with the dry sweet sensation you get after drinking a large glass of apple juice. The smokiness throughout is very slight, but on the finish, you definitely feel as though you have had a peated whisky. Towards the end, all of the flavour has gone, leaving behind a dulled tannic, bitter and white pepper linger.
I found this whisky to be somewhat lacking. The mushroom flavours from the finish were quite interesting; it definitely gave the whisky a creamy and deep nutty earthy flavour, and not mushroomy, as you may expect from the use of truffles. That said, I found it incredibly sweet. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that caramel colouring had been added. On the nose, I experienced hints of latex and rubber and, if you know me, I am not a huge fan of that. Thankfully, I didn’t get those flavours from the taste. There are some redeeming qualities to this whisky, but I did find it a little dull and very short on the finish. I felt that the sweetness was possibly hiding something, maybe even those latex notes I dislike so much, which I guess could be considered a good thing, for me anyway. That being said, one could pick up a bottle for roughly €40 and it could be fun to share with friends and have a good debate on. It was certainly not bad—I have had worse whiskies—but it just was not that good, either. It was a nice break from the norm. Hopefully next time, I will review a truly European whisky rather than sourced Scotch. With distilleries being a little bit more experimental, I wonder what Scottish distilleries will be able do in the future. Fishky was a thing, maybe Haggisky could be something else!