Peated Perfection: New Dazzling Single Malt Exclusives from Michel Couvreur – Sxotxh Whisky News

We are back with another set of amazing single malt exclusives from Michel Couvreur. These bottlings have earned a cult following and have grown into one of our most successful brands. The late Michel Couvreur was a Belgian wine dealer who moved to Beaune in the 1950s. Then, in the 1960s as he followed his passion, he moved to Scotland to become more involved with the Scotch whisky industry. He had developed a taste for sherry-aged single malt. He worked out a few contracts from suppliers and began purchasing whisky to mature in his own sherry butts that he secured from Jerez. In the ’70s, Michel decided to move back to Beaune, in order to focus more on quality cooperage (Beaune was closer to Spain and easier to work out of) and that’s when he decided to mature his own casks, in his own cellar, that was built deeply into the side of a nearby hill. Michel would contract whisky from Scotland, barrels from Spain, and make his own expressions of single malt whisky from the heart of French wine country. These single malts, while not technically Scotch, soon became the stuff of legends. When our spirits team finally got a chance to taste these coveted single malts, an exclusive deal was struck immediately. The expressions featured here follow in this tradition of excellence and are destined to garner even more adoring fans. Quantities are limited and our allocations always sell out, so don’t miss out on one of the most exciting brands in the world of single malt.


Michel Couvreur “Cap a Pie” Whisky (750ml)
($69.99)

This unusual expression from our dear friends in Bouze-les-Beaune is a slight departure from their usual sherry driven malts. This blend of sherry aged malt whisky and whisky barrel (hogshead) aged grain is similar to their popular “Unique Whisky,” but with a higher proportion of malt aged in medium humid conditions. The result is something awesomely round, but with unparalleled freshness. The little blend dubbed, “Head to Foot” really has it all. This is the complete package for anyone looking for an easy drinker that doesn’t leave you wishing for more. Rich malt flavors meld with hints of tropical fruit, great structure, subtle nutty aromatics, and a long toasty finish. If you’re looking for something that’s not too head strong, yet still keeps you on your toes, don’t look any further than Cap A Pie.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 10, 2019

For a mere 70 bucks, this falls into the category of ‘life’s simple pleasures. “Head to Toe”, it’s a perfect blend. Set aside how wonderful, cool, and unusual Couvreur is as a producer and just taste the whisky. It’s flawless and offers a bit of everything in the whisky-verse. If you’ve ever enjoyed a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue, be prepared to be blown out of the water by this number.

Will Blakely | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 26, 2019

Anyone that tells you blended whisky is inherently inferior needs psychological evaluation to determine who hurt them to make them so cynical. And high-quality malt and grain mixtures don’t need to cost an arm and a leg like Johnnie Blue or Ichiro’s worldwide blend. Before you even raise the glass as far as your lips, enchanting aromas of orchard fruit, sweet grain, and white flowers greet you warmly. Honeyed, nutty, sticky malt and bright, delicate grain find the perfect balance and coax a subtle stone fruit character from the dynamic array of flavors you find in each sip. It’s so fresh and delightful that even casual drinkers may find themselves sitting in front of an empty glass wondering where all the whisky went.

Jackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 26, 2019

This would be a great Scotch for anyone looking to try to get into the Islay flavor profile. It was so approachable, I smiled as I smelled and got the warm and fuzzies (and maybe some audible expressions as well). Sweet leather, bacon wrapped apples, and brine remind me of other Islays but with a lot of the medicinal qualities toned down. Sipping this was a very pleasant experience. It’s smooth and balanced with notes of apple, light peat smoke, chocolate covered toffee, and sweet grass which all follow you into the finish. This dram is dangerously delicious for the price and something I could see myself going through multiple bottles of with a group of friends.

Jeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 27, 2019

This blended whiskey has a beautiful expressive nose that is full of sweet and inviting aromas. In the mouth it is soft and round and very easy to drink. It is on the malty sweet side and will be great alone or on the rocks. The Cap A Pie is not a heavy or concentrated but light and a crowd pleaser.

Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 24, 2019

How is this French family so great at handling Scotch? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it doesn’t matter because they’ve impressed me again. This new offering is buttery with just a touch of smoke on the nose. More sniffs and a few drops of water bring out rich red fruit scents and a pleasant pungent quality. The palate is a bit of a conundrum because the whisky is gentler and yet the peat comes out more as well. Even with more smoke, this whisky is never aggressive. Instead, floral flavors and vanilla bean unfold and lead up to dying campfire finish.

Greg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 21, 2019

The nose if full of heather and honey and if I didn’t know better I’d think it was a Highland Malt. On the palate you get a very high toned, central focus that makes this spirit seem very elegant. It has a long finish, fresh and uplifting.

Michel Couvreur “Peaty Overaged” K&L Exclusive Malt Whisky (750ml) ($79.99)

The chance to work with Michel Couvreur on a special K&L whisky project was something that David and I had been dreaming of for years. We had heard the stories. This crazy Belgian had moved to Burgundy in the ’60s, carved out a wine cellar inside a mountain, only to fill it with Scottish single malt whisky instead of Pinot Noir. He set up camp in Beaune, ordered new-made spirit to be delivered by tanker, and drove down to Jerez himself, selecting his own sherry butts to ensure the finest quality casks for his contracted spirit. Unfortunately, Michel Couvreur passed away in 2013 from pancreatic cancer, thus ending the career of one of the industry’s most courageous pioneers. Luckily for us, however, apprentice Jean-Arnaud has carried on after studying under Michel for more than a decade. When we visited the underground cave, we were all in total awe. The tunnels of dripping stone go on forever, and the amount of whisky stored in this secret lair is jaw-dropping. We put our trust completely in Jean-Arnaud and are happy that we did. Our peated version of the incredible sherry expression is a seamless creation that drinks like the best version of Johnnie Black ever, mixed with the most supple and soft expressions of Macallan. It’s a lush, unfiltered, creamy, caramel-laden dream of a whisky composed only of malts 12 years and older. There’s a bit of peat on the finish, but the soft sherry is the star. (NOTE: do NOT cut the hard wax seal, use a wine opener to go through it)

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 14, 2014

The magnificence that is Michel Couvreur has always been clear, but it wasn’t until we stepped into the special cave, carved out of the rock, in Bouze-Les-Beaune, that you can fully appreciate the incredible endeavor and process of this fine producer. While this is by definition NOT scotch, because it is aged outside of the country, the old school practices utilized at here are unusual back in Scotland. The fact that these guys literally drive to Jerez to pick out fresh sherry casks (from Equipos Navazos no less) is totally unique in modern times. In fact, no producer of malt whisky is getting access to fresher barrels than these guys. Despite not being able to use the famous moniker, that does not preclude this from being one of the most authentic and absolutely delicious malts on the market. There is stupendous depth and complexity even at 86 proof. And while the sherry is toned down from the standard version, a subtle fino/amontillado quality exists in the back ground. This is pointed by a fabulous smokey sweetness, which hints at the source whisky. A truly unique gem.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 10, 2019

This has been a favorite bottling of mine every year since it first landed in 2014. This marks our fifth iteration and I believe it may be the finest. The soft sherry is of the highest quality. The malt is all 12 years and up, and the smoke profile is perfect. It has pure sexy peat and is intense yet welcoming. A slight salinity brings freshness to the palate and highlights the brimming sweet fruit. It’s rare to see anything of this quality come together, let alone for 80 bucks.

Jackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 02, 2019

Nosing this in the glass was addicting and I had to stop myself before becoming in danger of singeing nerve endings. A sweet hickory smoke softly emanated from the glass with a bit of brine behind it. Working my way past the sumptuous smoke, I got notes of apple skins and barbecued yellow nectarines. The palate was round and soft; I felt no need to add water to this one. Black pepper and honey smoked ham, combined with charred canned pineapple, almost made me feel like I was at a luau. The finish was pleasant, not too long, but had a waxy, spicy play going on, and once everything felt like it was over, a bit of leftover charred pineapple showed up to do one last curtsy.

Jeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 09, 2019

This Michel Couvreur Malt Whiskey is a perfect marriage of smoke and sherry aged spirit. It is balanced and not heavy, with the sherry aging adding a kiss of influence but not dominating the spirit, creating a well-integrated whole. There are a nice amount of smoke aromas with subtle sweet undertones. On top of this it is complex and will surprise and delight.

Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 22, 2014

One of the best bottles of “Scotch” I have had in a long while. I have been moving away from peated malts recently…but this bottle has the perfect marriage of smoke and sherry. The malt has a beautiful chewy texture and richness on the palate (perhaps owing to the fact that they don’t remove any of the first fill sherry barrel residue before bottling). It is brimming with red forest fruits, sweet rancio tones, wood spice and earthy nuances. A really complete drop and serious value for the money, in my book.

Shaun Green | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 07, 2014

I love it! Super creamy with a mild peat, lovely sherry character, and an absolutely wonderful sexy texture on the palate. What an amazingly charming whiskey!

Michel Couvreur “Pale Single Single” Malt Whisky (750ml) ($109.99)

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 22, 2016

A single malt from a single cask from this renowned blender is always a treat. Here we’re off the big sherry notes that Couvreur is known for and onto something more malt-driven. Still with that beautiful Burgundian cellar experience, but now pointed with Highland flowers, wild honey, white and yellow fruit. I’m wanting to say this is Clynelish, but cannot confirm. Now that we’re able to list this below $100 it’s a no-brainer and certainly a unique experience that’s not easily replicated anywhere else on the shelf.

Jeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: July 25, 2016

Absolutely fantastic. The Couvreur Pale has inviting malt and floral aromas. In the mouth it is soft, round and malty, with subtle dried fruit nuances. A nice long finish helps round out this wonderful whisky.

Michel Couvreur 10 Year Old “V.J. Maturation” K&L Exclusive Tissot Vin Jaune Barrel Aged Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml) ($119.99)

Two exceptional names in their respective fields coming together in this extremely rare and unique offering. The Single Malt spirit was distilled on February 5th, 2009, and shipped to the Burgundian cellars carved in the rock in Bouze-les-beaune. There it was filled into 5 casks that had previously held the exquisite Vin Jaune from one of the Jura’s finest producers, Stephan Tissot. After decades being used for this unique wine, something in between grand cru Burgundy and fino sherry, the barrels are completely impregnated with the complex flavors of the special wine. The two producers traded barrels and there is indeed a small batch of Vin Jaune from Mr. Tissot that is aged in ex-whisky barrels from Couvreur’s cellar. But it seems that the whisky maker probably had the better deal, since these old casks are very hard to pry from the cellars of the Jura producers. After 10 full years maturing in the most humid part of Couvreur’s cellars this whisky is now brimming with the intense energy of the special wine that was once made in these barrels and the enigmatic man who made them. This is at full cask strength here with no additives of any kind except for 10 long years in Couvreur’s underground cellars. The whisky displays strong deposits (the lees and the voile) as the barrels were filled fresh without any intervention to remove the leftover wine deposits. This whisky loves a drop of water (just one) to open up the rich complexity and vibrant intensity.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 10, 2019

For those seeking true rarity and exceptionalism, look no further. Miniscule production combined with barrels from one of the world’s finest wine producers (also of tiny production) leads to a whisky of phenomenal complexity and flavor. It’s briny, biological, and fresh, much like the more familiar fino sherry category, but seems to fit even more seamlessly into a whisky than the wines of Jerez. It also possess some of the strong flavors more reminiscent of Baijiu. Wild umami tangos with fruit, salt, and honey drizzled granola. If you’re turned on by the esoteric, don’t miss this. If you collect whisky, don’t miss this. If you you simply love drinking great whisky, don’t miss this. There is truly nothing else like it on earth.

Alex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 11, 2019

This is yet another marvel from the phenomenon that is Michel Couvreur’s whisky. The Belgian scotch-maker in Burgundy puts a truly unique, French twist on this single-malt by aging it in Vin Jaune barrels from a fantastic producer in his own right, Stephan Tissot. The result is amazing. It’s yeasty, nutty, citrusy, honey-laden with the richness of a sherried whisky but with a very different, brighter, unique, delicious profile.

Jackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 01, 2019

What a departure from their other offering, Cap a Pie. I wont say completely opposite, but what the Cap a Pie had in smoke and was lacking in medicinal notes, the 10-year V.J. seems to have done the reverse. On the nose I immediately got band aides paired with brine, umeshu plum, roasted toffee, and slight notes of smoked honey and graham crackers. The palate has a bit of five spice to start and then goes into chocolate nougat and a toasted graham cracker and finishes with something that reminded me of the chili mango skewers you can get on the beaches of P.V. The V.J. barrels give this whiskey a sherried characteristic on the nose, so if you like sherried Islays, this is one worth taking a look at.

Will Blakely | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 26, 2019

Fans of Michel Couvreur products should be rejoicing right now, as this unique cask is another show-stopper in their lineup. Truthfully, this should be on any enthusiast’s short-list right now, not solely because of its rarity but mainly because it’s damn fine whisky. Impossibly concentrated and complex for something 10 years old, this hits all the marks. Citrus and sultana on the nose with a hint of bready yeast, it almost feels like a sherry finish. But on the palate, there’s delicate, high-quality malt that melds perfectly with candied citrus peel, apricot and almond, with a generous note of wild honey throughout. The finish is long and soothing, with just enough savory voile and spice to keep it from tasting like dessert. But, sipping this with apricot tarte tatin certainly would not be out of place. With only so many bottles available, get yours before they’re gone.

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