Ageing woods: Ex-Port and ex-Brandy
Added colouring: No
Average price: € 60.00
Official website: etoh.dk
It’s more or less common knowledge that in some whisky-producing areas such as Israel, India or Taiwan, maturation takes place more quickly than in Scotland, due to the environment in which the casks are left to rest, which is much warmer than in northern Europe.
The ratio is obviously not precise, given the many environmental factors involved, but it can be said that, approximately, one year of ageing in tropical countries corresponds to three in Scotland, which is why whiskies from those areas practically never have a declared age so as not to confuse consumers.
But what happens when you decide to take this ageing process to extremes, aiming to create a distillate with the organoleptic characteristics of a whisky in just a few days?
What happens is that 2017 saw the birth of EtOH, a Copenhagen-based company founded by Tobias Emil Jensen, who decided to put his studies in the field of chemistry to good use and call on external researchers, creating a spirit with the typical maturation characteristics of whisky (but not definable as such for youth) in just a few days.
The details are of course not known, but the rough procedure involves treating the new make (procured from Scotland) in a reactor of their own creation, called the Jensen, into which staves recovered from used casks are added, while pieces of the same casks are reduced to shavings and placed in an ultrasonic coffin. The use of, among other things, high temperatures, ultrasound and inorganic acid catalysts accelerates the process of extracting the components from the wood and combining them with the distillate, to the point of obtaining a spirit that is in every way similar to whisky in just a few days.
At least that’s what they say: you can read more about it here (in English, not Danish).
And we come to this bottle, which was sent to me for tasting directly from the distillery, made with a distillate of malted barley half of which has been three years in ‘spent’ casks, aged for seven days with wood from ex-Port casks (60%) and ex-Brandy Burgundy casks (40%).
The bottle is part of the Classics line, which aims to reproduce the classic styles of whisky, alongside the Novels line in which they dare combinations of flavours and aromas.
I also have the new make of this bottle available, so that we can make a comparison.
And let’s taste this whisky that is not whisky!
The nose opens rather vinous and with an accentuated alcoholic note, on which are grafted scents of sultanas, prunes, pear, marzipan and a distinct citric essence together with blond orange juice. On the length it becomes softer, honey appears with a touch of peach and a light waxy note. Unstable but pleasant.
In the mouth it starts with a slight peppery sprinkle over a light body of red fruits, plums, baked apple, candied orange, honey and chocolate, with a dose of sweet liquorice expressed in length. Base of leather and toasted wood.
The finish is rather short and astringent, of sultanas, almonds and liquorice.
The new make, at 61%ABV, presents lively notes of yellow and dried fruit.
When you approach something so atypical, you have to keep an open mind: you can’t evaluate it like a whisky, but the comparison is inevitable. And I must say that it comes out well.
If it were a whisky, it would have the characteristics of a young malt, not very refined, which combines a messy nose with a more compact palate despite its simplicity. The new make seems already well connoted on its own (Speyside perhaps?), and those casks declared as spent I have an idea they weren’t so spent after all, but the work of the woods is very present and amazing considering the rapid timing.
More than a curiosity to try.