Single Malt French Whisky Available in Extremely Limited Quantities – Hautes Glaces Whisky News

C’est Très Bon—An Extraordinary Single Malt from the French Alps
Hautes Glaces Single Cask #79 Single Rye Malt Macvin Barrel Aged Organic French Whisky (750ml) (Elsewhere $120) ($69.99)
“…this is definitely something for the adventurous malt lover…it drinks like a dream and at this
price is almost impossible to ignore.” — David Othenin-Girard, K&L Spirits Buyer

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As K&L spirits buyer David Othenin-Girard notes, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to offer two totally different French whiskies in the span of just a few weeks. Today’s offer represents the modern, non-traditionalist side of the spirits world in the Hautes Glaces Single Cask #79 Single Rye Malt Macvin Barrel Aged Whisky. This inimitable spirit is handcrafted from grain to bottle, each step carefully calibrated to bring out the terroir and uniqueness of this remote Alpine location. The notes below can tell you much more about the character of the Hautes Glaces, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight the rarity of this bottling and our razor-sharp price that’s half of what you’d pay for this spirit elsewhere. We don’t know when we’ll see this brand again, so grab your allocation quickly, since we’re sure this will disappear in a flash.

Hautes Glaces Single Cask #79 Macvin Barrel Aged Organic French Single Malt Whisky (750ml) (Elsewhere $120) ($69.99)

Whisky Advocate: “Explore the layers of this malted rye. It is herbaceous and minerally throughout, with aromas of licorice, chamomile, ginger, tarragon, incense, cooked pears, bread dough, cinnamon, and soil. The flavors express grain, minerals, and earth—tarragon, licorice, peppercorn, roasted peaches, walnut shells, and assertive but not overpowering oak. This young whisky’s flavors are from the field, fermenter, and still, not the barrel. Unique, complex, and exciting. (SSB)” (11/2018)

K&L Notes: This is an exceptional distillery outside the tiny hamlet of Saint Jean d’Herans, south of Grenobles, high in the Alps. The ancient estate was purchased and refurbished by Frederic Revol, who considers himself an agronomist, with the vision of creating a true single estate organic whisky. The fertile soils here allow Revol to grow a multitude of heirloom grains without the use of chemicals or artificial fertilizers. Across the 40-hectare domaine there exist five distinct climate zones. This single cask of malt whisky was distilled from 100% rye grain that was grown, malted, fermented, mashed, and distilled entirely on site in the climate zone referred to as Gabert. Distilled in 2011 on the domaine’s wood-fired alembic pot stills, it was filled into a nearly century-old Macvin du Jura barrel for close to 5 years. These special 600L barrels are typically used for 18 years to age Vin Jaune before being used for several more years to age Macvin. This particular barrel had gone through that cycle four times before being sent to Hautes Glaces to age this special whisky. Bottled at cask strength without chillfiltration or additives of any kind. The domaine has since been sold to Remy, and single casks have become exceedingly rare and expensive. K&L is the exclusive source for this special cask in California, and we’ve managed to offer it for nearly 50% off the suggested retail price. Don’t wait to experience this rare, unusual whisky as only a tiny portion of this cask made it this far west

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 15, 2021

Not sure what the odds are, but we managed to put together deals on France’s top two single malts within a two-week time span. The two whiskies couldn’t be more different, and Hautes Glaces represents the best of the new-school craft distillers in France. What we have here is truly whisky unique to this place, unlike the Kornog, which would have easily been at home among its Celtic brothers to the north. First, this is listed as Single Malt, but it’s actually distilled from 100% hand-malted rye grown on the estate. The estate, nestled in the foothills of the Alps, is about as picturesque as can be, and they’ve done an incredible job building out the facility. The extremely time-consuming process of growing and malting organic grain isn’t the end of the fun. Natural fermentation before distillation on what look like modified cognac stills results in a pungent base spirit that is perfectly suited for aging in an unusual barrel like Macvin. Let’s have a taste. The color is yellow gold. The nose is filled with the usual aromas of fresh malt, candied apple, yellow flowers, plasticine, and white pepper. On the palate, a surprising bit of char, near smokiness, is a welcome and huge departure from the fresh floral aromas on the nose. I’m not sure if there’s a peat element in the drying process or if this is the rye spice rearing its head. The wood certainly takes a back seat, but you do get some of the mineral quality associated with the great wines of Jura. We’ll never know if that’s from the barrel’s influence or the chiseled character of the spirit. It’s pretty rich and rather long. With water, more high-toned citrus fruit, mint, and pepper on the nose. The palate becomes much sweeter, and the darkness relents somewhat. In any case, this is definitely something for the adventurous Malt lover rather than the American whisky drinker, but it drinks like a dream and at this price is almost impossible to ignore. The new owners haven’t offered us any whisky from the distillery, so it might be some time before we see another offering, but if they can keep them coming in this range, we’ll be happy to have them.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 17, 2021

A unique spirit perfect for a seeker of fine and unusual things. It would be easy, but altogether wrong, to place this whiskey into the category of rye. Similarly, calling it single malt, while technically correct, is equally wrong. It’s truly a spirit born of the Jura and the region’s climate, soils, and traditions. For many Americans who aren’t massive wine geeks, you may never even have heard of the Jura, let alone Macvin—the fortified wine of the region. A long tradition of both wine and spirit production, Macvin is a natural combination of the two. The regions brandy, Marc de Jura, is added to partially fermented locally grown grapes to produce Macvin. This is similar to Pineau de Charantes in Cognac or Floc de Gasgogne in Armagnac. The incredible age of the barrel used for this whisky production further ties the spirit to the regions centuries of tradition. The careful organic farming of heirloom varieties of grain, tie it to the land and climate. While there are other great examples of terroir applied to whisky, this may have to be the top of the list. As for the drinking experience: exquisite. 100% malted rye whiskies are becoming more common, although still quite rare. It’s reminiscent of Old Potrero in the nose in that heady spicy combination of earth and pepper, but there is so much more complexity here thanks to many other elements. I believe the Macvin has imparted an almost agave-like sense of fruit and salt to the nose. Hot cinnamon, presumably from the rye, plays with the sweetness of the wine and the salty oxidative nature comes from (I’m speculating) the many cycles of Vin Jaune aging the cask had seen. It’s truly unlike any other whisky nose I’ve ever encountered. It’s also very powerful at 53.1%ABV. Moving into the palate, there is an equally beguiling set of flavors. If you didn’t know anything about the whisky and could only judge by color, it would be easy to expect a young and neutral barrel-aged Scotch. But when you taste it, the robustness of the whisky feels more like a heavily sherry-aged Scotch, although the flavors are altogether different. Apple and honey combine with a potpourri of herbs de Provence. Again, the complexity of the rye grass is prevalent. At no point does the malt itself step back from the experience. There aren’t any barrel notes to speak of in the sense of the tastes usually found from wood aging like big vanillas or caramels, but the mark of the cask is beyond reproach. The mineral notes are decidedly wine-like. Moving into the finish we again find a beautiful thread of honey and herbs—like a perfectly balanced herbal tea with a touch of sweetness. It’s really a fascinating whisky, although one that defies easy categorization.

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