Langatun’s peaty expression - Old Bear – is offered in two versions – a ‘standard’ 40% ABV edition and a ‘Cask Proof’ version whose ABV varies depending on the batch. All are triple distilled on the distillery’s combination of three (500L, 250L and 100L) Holstein stills – with the Old Bear matured in Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine casks.
Always a favourite vino for those heading to the supermarket for something reassuringly expensive, but with little real idea about wine itself. The style is produced by well over 300 separate producers in the region – resulting in a production volume of around 13 million bottles each year. The AOC allows for thirteen different grape varietals – but the blend must be predominantly constructed from grenache. As such, 95% of wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape are red.
Nose: Savoury. Paprika sausage – chorizo – alongside smoked cured ham and a generous scattering of jammy red berries. Peat is faint, but runs throughout – swirling, crisp wood smoke – and is joined by pepper, dry paper, bread dough and a pint of English ale. Water reveals butter and pan fats as well as a much smokier aspect – it’s still a clean wood fire smoke but is joined by leaf mulch and fresh barley.
Taste: A forceful arrival of billowing, smouldering air-dried logs alongside potent wood sugars. The red wine influence comes through strongly with dried redcurrants and wild bush berries together with drinking chocolate – and some perceptible, but still pliable tannins. Toffee sauce, crème brulee and moist soils bring up the rear alongside mint leaves and malt cake. Reduction offers orange barley water alongside candied tangerine peels – it also considerable reduces the perception of smokiness. A role reversal from the nose.
Finish: Quite long with a combination of wet and dry peat smoke, pepper and persistent chocolate sweetness.
The peat influence of Langatun’s Old Bear Cask Proof is characterfully unique – it offers an aromatic idiosyncrasy that feels at the same time both and neither inland dry smoke, or/nor coastal moist smoke. This startlingly crisp and precise smokiness is at the heart of this very drinkable (even at cask proof strength) Swiss whisky. Sweetness levels counterbalance the peat successfully and stem from well-judged, integrated wine cask maturation.
Review sample provided by Highfern on behalf of Langatun
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