Hinch 19 year old Château De La Ligne Grande Reserve Single Malt
This review like many on this humble little site, has taken a lot longer to arrive than it was originally planned too or should have taken but life has a wonderful way of intervening and getting in the way of good intentions.
On the 9th November last year I found myself enjoying the lovely environs of Angels and Two Bibles, one of Belfast’s most recently opened speakeasy style bars. The reason for my being their was not only to enjoy their rather lovely cocktails and canapés but also because Hinch Distillery were releasing their newest expression….the 19 year old Hinch Château De La Ligne Grande Reserve finish.
As you may know from my previous review of the 18 year oldChâteau De La Ligne expression, Hinch’s owner, Terry Cross also handily owns a vineyard in Bordeaux, the aforementioned Château De La Ligne. This of course means that the good folk have ready access to ex-Bordeaux casks and while I’m pretty certain that some of Hinch’s own new make has made it into some of these casks already they’ve also used some to finish Bushmills, ahem, cough cough, I mean triple distilled single malt from North Antrim, that they’ve managed to acquire.
After a couple of cocktails and chat with some of the great and good of Irish whiskey, The Tweed Terror (aka @misterwhiskeyni), Dave from @DavesIrishWhiskey, Ronan @whiskey4breakfast, some of the Belfast Whiskey Club crew and the inimitable Anthony Sheehy of Irish Whiskey Auctions (to name a few), we were lead through the tasting of the whiskey by Michael Morris of Hinch Distillery.
One thing that stuck out in the tasting was the emphasis on this new expression being highly commended by a certain ‘Man in a Hat’ whisky reviewer who produces an annual publication of his imbibings. This year he proudly proclaims to have tasted over 4,100 whiskies….I’m not sure if that’s in his lifetime or annually, but if it is annually I can only suggest the ‘Man’ is well on his well to self embalming.
Anyway, I have never been much of a fan of said reviewer (due to his style and from what I see, very cosy relationship with a lot of producers), but after his very public and recent tête-à-tête with a certain Becky Paskin I’d have personally thought that the distillery may have wanted to have avoided that connection with the proverbial barge pole. Certainly there are other reviewers both in type and in the world of YouTube that I think today carry much more weight and relevance (and I’m very definitely excluding myself from that sentiment….no one reads this site!)
Back to the whiskey then. So we have a 19 year old single malt from Bushmills that has spent the majority of it’s time maturing in ex-Kentucky bourbon barrels before being finished for 6 months in the Grande Reserve wine casks. It’s non chill filtered, I believe it’s natural colour and it’s bottled at 48% abv. All good so far. As part of the rather lovely package you also get a bottle of the actual Château De La Ligne Grande Reserve wine itself, a nice touch. So how much is all this goodness going to cost me Phil I hear you ask? Just £289.00……it was all going so well….
Oh and before we get to the notes the lovely folk at Hinch provided me with two samples, one of the 19 year old single malt matured solely in bourbon and one with the Château De La Ligne finish so you get a bonus review included!
Hinch 19 year old Bourbon Cask 48%
Nose: Very fruity – ripe bananas, peach, mango and pineapple. Caramel sauce over vanilla ice cream. Mild nutmeg and sponge cake batter. Muted ground ginger and some toasted oak.
Palate: Lovely creamy mouthfeel – it follows the nose with tropical fruit of pineapple and mango mixed with orchard fruit, peach and sweet apple. Icing sugar and toffee pieces. Mild white pepper mid palate along with nutmeg. Some milk chocolate too.
Finish: Of medium length. Still fruity with chopped hazelnuts, toffee and a little oak tannin.
Score: 7 out of 10
Hinch 19 year old Château De La Ligne Grande Reserve Finish 48%
Nose: Quite a rich nose. The fruitiness of the bourbon cask is still here – banana, pineapple and peach. On top of this there are plum and blackberry notes. There is also a leathery quality. Then pepper, cinnamon, oak and cocoa powder.
Palate: Again a good mouthfeel undoubtedly helped by the extra abv. Honey and ripe red apple plus stewed peaches, cassis and plum jam. Praline and milk chocolate. A peppery kick follows with oak spice and ground ginger. Leather and even a hint of smoke in the mix too.
Finish: Again of medium length with cassis, nuts and chocolate lingering.
Score: 6 out of 10
Overall: So the bourbon cask was actually one of the better bourbon casked Bushmills I’ve had in recent times, good nose, good mouthfeel and showcasing the tropical fruit notes of the base spirit well, better than some of the recent SMWS offerings. Sadly it’s unlikely Hinch will release this in it’s ‘naked’ form but if they have any Bushmills casks left maybe that would be a good option for them.
The Château De La Ligne finish is actually better than the previous iteration with a little less spice overtones on the palate than before. Still though that red wine cask has exerted a certain spice kick to proceedings. Along with the spice there is a good chunk of stewed fruit, leather and cocoa added to the mix that makes it a very pleasant drinking experience. Sadly though at the price how many of these will actually ever get opened?
Even without the bottle of wine added into the package I’d have been surprised to see this retailing at under £200 (someone from Hinch might correct me on that). At that price for me it is still a hard sell. I recently purchased a SMWS 21 year old Bushmills (cask strength and finished in a rum cask) for £165. And as people tighten the purse strings even more in the current climate I think these ‘collectable’ or ‘prestige’ bottles are going to take longer to shift as we funnel our rapidly decreasing funds to other maybe more important things. If it had of been around the £150 mark it might have even made it into 7 territory.
Still a solid dram and thanks to Hinch for the invite to the launch and the generous samples (I fully understand I'll never be invited to another product launch!)
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