Review: Ardnamurchan Paul Launois

Another week, another “From the Shelves” review! And this week it’s time for the Ardnamurchan Paul Launois release. A bottling from a distillery that manages to (pleasantly) surprise me each and every time. For me personally the prime example that good whisky doesn’t always have to be old whisky!

Ardnamurchan use their unpeated spirit for these Paul Launois releases. Which is first matured in ex-bourbon barrels and then transferred into ten ex-Champagne casks from the Domaine this edition is named after, and one ex-bourbon barrel for balance. Together these 11 casks make up for a release of 2.676 bottles. Of which only 228 were made available for the Benelux.

When it first arrived on the shelves of Café Zilt a few weeks ago I was eager to try a dram, as I’ll freely admit to being a bit of a fanboy of Ardnamurchan. I even visited the distillery a few months ago. The fact that despite my “fanboyness” for the brand, I was still very pleasantly surprised with how good this dram is… made it an easy choice for a wholehearted recommendation and a “From the Shelves” review!

These “From the Shelves” reviews will be posted on my own blog and on the blog from Café Zilt, but aside from that cooperation I get no compensation for my blogs and my reviews will always remain independent and unbiased.

Tasting Notes: Ardnamurchan Paul Launois 2023 Release

ABV: 57.1% (114,2 proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: Ardnamurchan Distillery

Category: Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

As I approach the glass, I’m welcomed by notes of white chocolate crème brûlée and old-fashioned dunnage floors. A beautiful interaction of sweet and earthen scents. Behind those dominant notes I’m finding wild peaches, dried sultanas, and a dusting of powdered sugar. A few drops of water make the earthen flavours a bit more pronounced and brings forth some grainy influences, providing a lovely sense of eating porridge on a dirt floor strewn with dried hay.

On the palate there’s some burn from the high abv, but not nearly as much as you might expect. The effect is very much softened by notes of caramel sundae’s, with little fudge chunks and fermented lychees. The mouthfeel is almost creamy and where I didn’t really pick up on the champagne on the nose, I can discern its presence clearly here on the palate. Just a few drops of water adds some pepper and salted liquorice to this dram, that give it an even greater depth of flavours to play with.

The finish is long and without a doubt one to savour. There’s a hint of tannins available, but in a very pleasant way that balances out the sweetness perfectly. I’m mainly getting hints of winegums, cotton candy, and vanilla custard. Some of my favourite treats from childhood and finding that in a dram is always a pleasure! Water really transformed this dram from nose till finish and in the latter the salted liquorice carried on from the palate.

This whisky has a ‘Multiple drams in one’ effect if I’ve ever tasted one. Water transforms it completely. And the best thing about it? Both before and after are equally delicious! It seems Ardnamuchan have truly mastered the process of making young whisky taste amazing and this Paul Launois release is no exception. In fact, this might just be my favourite till date!

As this is a very limited release it’s hard for me to say anything about value though. As I know these bottles are usually sold out fast and then go for several times the original price. At Zilt you can have a 2cl dram for just 6,90 though, and at that price I cannot recommend it enough!

89/100

A (based on the price at Zilt)

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