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French Scotch...?

法式蘇格蘭威士忌?

“Hold on a minute”, you might be thinking. “French Scotch? Isn’t that a contradiction? Doesn’t the term ‘Scotch’ refer to whisky produced and wholly matured in Scotland?” Well yes, it does. There is technically no such thing as “French Scotch”, but if there was, Michel Couvreur would have to come pretty close.

 

The name “Michel Couvreur” can refer to many things - a man, a wine distribution business, an independent bottler and a whisky brand. For this article though, we’ll focus on the last two - in particular the innovative approaches Michel Couvreur practice towards whisky maturation and bottling.

In the simplest sense, Michel Couvreur is an independent bottler, but that’s selling them short (the man himself passed away in 2013).

 

\Michel Couvreur is unlike any other bottler in that they take new make spirit from Scottish whisky distilleries, ship it to Burgundy in France, and mature it in an underground cellar (or rather, a large cave), often in ex-Sherry casks. There’s nothing unique about an independent bottler using ex-Sherry casks, but an independent bottler doing so in an underground cave in the heart of French wine country, with Scottish spirit? Now that’s unique. Bottling each with a French wine-esque label, topped with a cork and wax seal also adds to the uniqueness. No wonder Michel Couvreur whisky is often called “whisky for wine people”.

 

Michel Couvreur whiskies don’t specify the distillery of origin, but then it doesn’t really matter – these whiskies are all about the maturation, rather than the base spirit. From lighter, elegant whiskies like “The Unique” (44%) to heavy-hitting sherried whiskies like the 27yo “Very Sherried” single cask (48%), a range of styles is offered (with no less than 14 expressions currently available in Hong Kong through Natural Food & Beverage, ranging from $1,200HKD up to $38,800HKD).

 

「French Scotch( 法式蘇格蘭威士忌 ) ?」, 這是否很矛盾?你會有「等陣」這個念頭? Scotch 不是指從蘇格蘭完全釀造的威士忌 嗎?這定義是正確。技術層面上是沒有「法 式蘇格蘭威士忌」這回事,但如果有的話, Michel Couvreur 與這定義頗為接近。

 

Michel Couvreur可以代表很多東 西:人物、酒分銷生意、獨立入樽商品牌 和威士忌品牌。在這篇稿我們會注重最後 兩樣,特別是 Michel Couvreur 採用陳 釀威士忌和瓶裝的創新方法。最簡單來說 Michel Couvreur 是一名獨立入樽商品 牌,可惜它不能充分發揮其潛力 ( 他本人 不幸在二零一三年過身 )。

 

Michel Couvreur 會從蘇格蘭威士忌酒廠選 取新釀酒款,然後運送至法國布爾岡酒區, 再從地下酒窖 ( 或大型洞穴 ) 裏陳釀,通常 都會運用前雪莉酒桶。這種做法與其他行家 做法不一樣。當然一般獨立入樽商品牌都會 運用前雪莉桶,但從法國釀酒地區心臟地帶 的地下酒窖陳釀蘇格蘭士忌?真的非常獨 特。除此之外,每瓶酒都印上貌似葡萄酒的 酒標,並蓋上軟木塞和以蠟封著來添加獨特風 格。不難想像為何 Michel Couvreur 威士忌 通常被喻為「品葡萄酒人士專屬的威士忌。」

 

Michel Couvreur 的威士忌不會特別指明 酒廠來源地,但不算是太大影響,這些威士 忌酒款比較注重陳釀過程,而不是基底酒 款。這獨特品牌提供不少酒款,由輕盈、高 貴的款色如 The Unique (44%) 至重雪莉 橡木味的威士忌如 Very Sherried 單一木 桶 27 年 (48%)。在香港可以透過 Natural Food & Beverage 搜購超過 14 款 Michel Couvreur 酒款,價格由 $1200 至 $38,800 不等。