K&L Exclusive Sherry-Aged Whisky: Michel Couvreur’s “Peaty Overaged”
Michel Couvreur “Peaty Overaged” K&L Exclusive Malt Whisky (750ml) ($79.99)
“…one of the most authentic and absolutely delicious malts on the market…This new batch of Couvreur is better than ever!” — David Othenin-Girard, K&L Spirits Buyer
In their constant search for the world’s most unique and compelling spirits, our buying team routinely discovers truly stupendous offerings exclusive to K&L. One of our favorites over the years has been the Michel Couvreur “Peaty Overaged.” What’s truly remarkable is where this inimitable dram comes from—a deep, dark cellar in the heart of Burgundy. The late Michel Couvreur arrived here in the 1960s and set about acquiring impressive stocks of new-make single malt Scotch and cultivating one of the most well-sourced sherry-cask regimens in the whisky world. Now produced by his long-time apprentice, this peated K&L Exclusive is, as spirits buyer David Othenin-Girard describes, a “wildly high-quality…whisky with a French sensibility.” For any lover of incredibly expressive sherry cask whisky, this is a must-try bottling that will leave you stunned, thrilled, and totally addicted to the style that is none other than Michel Couvreur.
The chance to work with Michel Couvreur on a special K&L whisky project was something that we had been dreaming of for years. We had heard the stories. This innovative 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-make 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 jawdropping. We put our trust completely in Jean-Arnaud and are happy 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: May 13, 2021
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-lès-Beaune that we could fully appreciate the incredible endeavor in process at 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. Not being able to use the famous moniker does not preclude this from being one of the most authentic and absolutely delicious malts on the market. 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. Maybe an island somewhere, maybe a drop of Islay, wildly high-quality Highland whisky with a French sensibility. A truly unique gem. This new batch of Couvreur is better than ever! They seem to have slightly upped the peaty element and it’s a welcome addition. They won’t tell us where it’s from, but it’s starting to feel very Caol Ila to me. Also, they’ve adjusted the wax seal which is not soft and can be opened directly via corkscrew. No need to break the wax in advance these days.