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Thursday, 4 February 2010

Content On The Continent - Part 2

'Ross Beef' pulls into town....

So, if you've been following my previous exploits, you'll find me in fine fettle, full of roast Cuckoo (well, what I thought to be Cuckoo, turned out to be a Belgian chicken... boo) having just sampled one of Belgians first whiskies.
My story shifts now to an unfeasibly early start to catch the train from Brussels Midi into Gare Du Nord, the gateway of Paris. I had been rather caught up by relaxed lifestyle Brussels has to offer and found several superb pubs you must visit on your travels... Firstly, A La Mort Subite has some superb ales on tap, followed by the atmosphere of The Monk, where I picked up these rather fetching glasses from a persistent salesman:

I was quite woolly headed as we dashed for the train, only to realise it was delayed an hour. Come on guys! I expect this sort of thing in London.

Things only got worse when we arrived to a very Grey Paris, pouring with rain and perhaps the rudest, most outrageous taxi driver I have ever come across. We were staying in The Marais and his response was (in French- "why do you want to go there? it's too far and the traffic is a 'catastrophe' " This went on for 15 minutes whilst he drove precariously over old ladies, dogs and umbrella wielding school girls, until I demanded he let us out. Our bags were flung out and I heard the faint tinkle of glass from mine, which could only mean one thing....


I have often advocated the use of whisky as an attractive cologne, but when your entire wardrobe whiffs of peat and carbolic soap, people seem to look at you in a very different light indeed.
Anyway, after a hearty lunch of Foie Gras, Canard and roast veg (yes, I have dietry 'issues' folks) I thought a little trip to La Maison Du Whisky was in order. If you haven't visited before, try to take some time out, as they have a great selection of vintage bottlings in the store, including a few French whiskies, which is precisely what I was looking for.

I have read many good things about French whisky making and how it is one of the highlights of distillation on the continent, so I was very intrigued to finally try some.
I plumped for a bottle of Eddu Silver, in place of the Gold, which was out of stock. Eddu is from the heart of the Brittany and is made exclusively using buckwheat, which apparently supposed to hold many secrets to a life of good health and longevity... Wow. Just think of all the Foie Gras and Confit de Canard I can eat, after consuming a bottle of this!!
Here goes....
Eddu Silver - Buckwheat whisky - 40% - matured in French Oak (naturally!) -70cl

Hmmm... Not sure where to begin here. Some nice rose like florals come through initially, followed by some cream soda and something a little phenolic. Dig deeper and some further earthy, mossy notes emerge.

Gadzooks!!! this is the bitterest whisky I have ever tried!! The first mouthful took me totally off guard. Going back in for seconds and more of that rose note comes to the rescue thank god, followed by milky coffee and then a little sweetness. It is honestly like chewing rose petals- you get the bitter vegetive bite, then the more delicate perfumed note. Weird whisky this.

Finish: Some lighter, malty notes appear, with the floral rose flavour drying to a slightly salty finish.

Ok, I really didn't expect anything like this. The use of buckwheat clearly marks this out as something unusual, but for me, it just doesn't work. This isn't a whisky I would recommend- Purely based on the initial biting bitterness. The floral hints make up some of the disappointment, but there just isn't enough good character to dig itself out, or indeed make this stand alone as something 'refreshingly different' in the whisky world.

Night was drawing in and I was missing the Lagavulin, which my clothes were cruelly reminding me of every time I caught a faint whiff of peat on the breeze.
So I decided to order one in a bar, overlooking the Seine.

It arrived and I felt immediately cheered up, until I realised it had cost approximately £13 for a single measure. Still, it sure washed away the taste of the Eddu and the view of a Parisian skyline at night is enough to warm the cockles of even the most ardent of Euro sceptics....

Bonne Nuit!

Tune in to part 3 of my Euro adventure when I hit Berlin and learn a few things about snow ploughs, health food and the true meaning of a 'Hot Sausage'. All that and some excellent German single malts....