Our exclusive whiskies: selection work


Through this article by our expert Quentin T., we invite you to learn a little more about the art of selecting whiskey barrels which leads to building our range of exclusive bottlings.

Looking for an identity

Each distillery has its own aromatic structure and identity. The choice of the aging cask will orient this aromatic palette either towards the wood and what it has to say, or precisely bring out this identity.

Independent bottlers are free to bottle whatever they want. If they think that a cask of Burgundy wine should be used for the ageing of a particular whisky, they do it! If they think instead that a distillery is too marked by Sherry, maybe they will make the choice for once of a Hogshead for reuse and thus bring out the distillate. There is no limit to the aromatic potential of whisky (except the laws that govern it). There are no better or less good options, just different tastes on the part of each enthusiast, different desires, different points of view.

We ourselves totally passionate, we build our ranges according to our experience and our tastes. Sometimes we all have a crush on a keg, sometimes not at all and only one of us believes in it! Is this a less good whisky than the one we all love? No, it’s just that our tastes and desires clash! Unanimity around a cask is rare, and this is precisely what makes the thing exciting! You must also know how to trust the tastes and views of others.


A selection made in Comptoir Irlandais

Our selection, made in conjunction with independent bottlers and renowned distilleries, reflects the passion of the experts at the Comptoir Irlandais, some of them are 23 years old, others nearly 55 years old.
This selection took almost a year of work, and in total more than 150 different whiskies that we tasted and analyzed with precision for in the end only retain 20!This selection resembles us and our history, but also what you, our dear customers, tell us in the field! However, this is by no means a universal selection, and few of us will have a crush on all these whiskies! Here we go from one extreme to the other in terms of the influence of the casks and the aromatic characteristics of the distillate. The reasons why we choose this or that whisky are multiple! From the notion of pure pleasure, to more technical, playful, pedagogical notions… even intellectual when a whisky forces us to ask questions and plunges us back into distant memories…

Here is what prompted us to select each of these whiskies: 

The «INK» range, in conjunction with the Independent bottler Signatory Vintage

Signatory Vintage is an independent Scottish bottler with almost cult status. It has achieved this reputation by building in 30 years one of the most incredible stock of barrels of all the distilleries of Scotland and bottling especially expressions from legendary distilleries. The other reason that makes its popularity is its stock of distillery barrels little known or even unknown! Signatory Vintage, like other independent bottlers, shows the hidden side of whisky! And this hidden side is awesome!


Strathmill, Mortlach, Benrinnes are little-known distilleries that still resonate with the ears and palates of well-informed amateurs! They each have their own style and specific fermentation and distillation processes. We are here in order to show and value these little-known names in their natural character, in a logic rather «spirit driven».

Strathmill 2009 10 years, 46% (cask: Hogshead, 340 bottles): 

Strathmill is a distillery with a very fruity profile (due to a very long fermentation), malty, finely oily and a great classicism. This «juice» perfectly matches the «finely pastry» influence of the Hogshead. Result: an ultra gourmet whisky, balanced, easy with a texture in the mouth simply awesome.

Mortlach 2008 11 years, 46% (cask: Bourbon barrel of 1st fill, 289 bottles):

Mortlach is a separate distillery that works a partial triple distillation (or even a partial quadruple distillation for a part of the distillate) and a «worm tubes» condensation, the distillate is heavy, very fatty between the fruits and more «meaty» aromas. The bourbon cask brings the necessary balance to the whisky and brings a certain roundness to this distillate called «the beast of Dufftown». The distillate is not crushed and can express all its richness and typicity. Between very malty, honeyed and oily notes, others with a more exotic fruitiness, and the Mortlach weft reminiscent of grilled bacon in some ways, this expression is ideal to explore the «old fashioned» whiskies of Speyside.

Benrinnes 1996 22 years, 56.2% (barrel: Hogshead for reuse, 255 bottles):

Benrinnes, like Mortlach, is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to make more than 2 distillations (at least until 2007). The partial triple distillation makes it a rare distillate in the whisky world. The choice of the Hogshead of re-employment allows a «spirit driven» vision: it is the character resulting from distillation that is sublimated by the 22 years of aging in a cask with light influence. At the tasting, a sense of precision dominates. We are on an «old school» whisky, waxy, grassy and hoppy notes. The slightly oily appearance develops on almonds and vanilla. The aromas explode one after the other, reinforced by the natural degree at 56.2%, proof of a great complexity and a «technical» whisky that has a lot to say! Our tip: let it breathe for 20 to 25 minutes in the glass with taste. You have to let this great whisky open and expose you the extent of its almost unique typicity of an «intense finesse» paradoxical!

Glenlivet, Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila are, on the other hand, well-known distilleries with a quasi-cult status. The work and the selection of the barrels are different and specific to each one according to our curiosities and our habits around these malts.

strathmill Benrinness Mortlach

The Glenlivet 2006 13 years, 62.8% (cask: Sherry Butt 1st fill, 645 bottles):

Glenlivet is one of the best-selling malts in the world, and probably one of the most universal and appreciated whiskies. Every whisky lover knows the classic, easy and gourmet range. Glenlivet distillate is a marvel of balance and proves an incredible consistency decades after decades! No matter the type of cask, from the moment you bottle it at the right time, it works! Well, Speyside requires, and to provide an alternative to our other Speyside bottlings in bourbon casks (Mortlach, Strathmill and Benrinnes in the INK and Aberlour range), we left here on a model of the kind: Glenlivet of middle age (13 years) in sherry casks, bottled to a natural degree…. Result out of class and balance in a style paradoxically overpowering and fine at the same time, between the power of spices, citrus and dark chocolate and the floral and malty finesse. An oily texture that is both melted and precise, the 62.8% alcohol is incredibly well integrated. An indefatigable of the great Scotch, an absolute archetype, one of the rare whiskies to be loved for almost any enthusiast of good whisky!

Bunnahabhain Staoisha (very peated) 2014 4 years, 60.8% (cask: Hogshead «scraped and rebruled», 295 bottles):

Only one goal here: to explode the peat, to explode the very fatty and earthy distillate! Only one method: a very short and intense ageing. The more the whisky passes from time to time, the more the wood takes over the peat. Often, for peat «the younger the better». Scratching the inside of the barrel and the rebruler will «rejuvenate» the wood and thus «boost» its influence. The ageing time is very short in a relatively active cask but with very minimal aromas. In the space of 4 years we get an incredibly mature whisky that sends you dirt shovels without filter! The texture is oily, the 60.8% is mastered and the general balance is there! Age does not do everything, and this whisky is the perfect proof! Fasten your seatbelts! 

Caol Ila 2013 6 years, 46% (cask: wine barrel, 362 bottles):

Caol Ila, a huge classic! All lovers of peat love its balance, maritime notes and consistency! This distillery is a landmark for many of us! Well, we have blurred the markers, blurred the tracks! We selected this Caol Ila in wine cask quite voluntarily. The peat is present but much finer than usual, much fresher. The fruits and the sweetness of the wine cask create a playful alternative to the usual «big peats» of Islay. We are by the cask.  Totally recommended for the approaching summer period. Be careful, it is easy to sip…

In addition to these 6 current selections, we still have some copies of our selection with Signatory Vintages from the end of 2018! A selection where we went purely towards «spirit driven» characters from distilleries generally known for the strong influence of the sherry cask in their bottlings. A counterproductive and purely playful vision… and when it’s good…

Bunnahabhain Caol Ila Glenlivet

Unnamed Orkney (Highland Park) 2005 13 years, 46% (cask: Hogshead for reuse, 384 bottles):

A totally natural Highland Park, without the usual influence of Sherry, which speaks its slightly smoky, iodine character, and on grassy notes and heather honey! Superb!

Unnamed Speyside (The Macallan) 2005 13 years, 46% (cask: Hogshead for reuse, 501 bottles):

Here also a natural Macallan where the very malty and fatty distillate has the place to express itself fully with a certain power! An excellent alternative to the classic Macallan which are much more fruity and spicy.

Linkwood 1997 20 years, 46% (cask: 2nd fill Sherry Hogshead, 323 bottles):

An excellent Linkwood, with very fruity and round distillate, that the second fill sherry cask completes the most splendid of ways with very light notes of citrus, spices and chocolate! It’s all about softness and finesse. A first fill cask would probably have marked the whisky too much, the second fill cask proves its interest here. Balance and gluttony are at their peak.

Linkwood Unnamed Speyside Orkney

The range of bottlings in connection with the distilleries

We have not only worked with Signatory Vintage, we also have excellent relations with the distilleries and have selected barrels in some of the most prestigious in the world!

Loch Lomond 2008 11 years, 57.4% (cask: Hogshead «scraped and rebruled», 254 bottles):

A whisky distilled in stills unique in the world, with a paradoxical character between light peat and pastry and floral notes. A classy favorite, balanced and of an incredible roundness considering its 57.4% alcohol.

Edradour 2009 10 years, 46% (cask: Sherry Butt 1st fill, 762 bottles)

One of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, Edradour gives us a powerful and rustic Highland malt! Here the Sherry cask takes all its meaning and completes with all its aromatic power this distillate already very heavy! The result: a monster of density between dried fruit, spices, leather notes and «farmer» character and a coffee/ dark chocolate mix. Absolutely beautiful!

Edradour Ballechin 2008 11 years, 46% (cask: Sherry Butt 1st fill, 892 bottles)

Ballechin is the name of peated Edradour. A peaty Highland and not Islay. The peat is slightly finer than on Islay but the Edradour distillate, as said above, remains very heavy and powerful! Once again the choice was on a Sherry Butt and its power! Peat, Sherry, a character «old fashioned» … What else?

Loch Lomond Edradour Ballechin

Aberlour 2003 16 years, 55.8% (cask: 3rd fill Bourbon barrel, 210 bottles):

Totally cult, Aberlour is no longer to be presented. Like only a few distilleries, Aberlour has shown incredible consistency in quality for decades. In addition, its distillate is particularly versatile. It is a precise distillate, fine, malty, floral and herbaceous, but it expresses itself with a power and a big presence in the mouth. It takes both Sherry casks and lighter impact casks. The Aberlour cask singles are extremely rare, the distillery gives them a drop by drop throughout the world. We are one of the few wine merchants to have been able to access these barrels. In 2018 we bottled a 15-year-old Sherry cask of 1st fill, an absolute monster «wood driven», what the English call a «Sherry bomb», or «Sherry Monster». This year, against total foot, at the other end of the barrel world, we selected an Aberlour who spent 16 years in Bourbon Barrel of 3rd fill! Yes yes, 3rd fill! A totally «spirit driven» vision of this legendary distillery with a cask with an almost non-existent aromatic impact but where wood still does its work. The 16 years in barrel will bring all the balance and maturity, and the distillate, literally explodes. The original character and the work of distillation that made the legend of the distillery, is emphasized by this time of venerable aging.  It’s malty around toasted bread scents, a fabulous floral/herbaceous mix, fine spices, peppery and peachy. Everything harmonizes in balance, aromatic precision and texture, the paradox of fine power. A great whisky!

Kavalan 2011 7 years, 59.4% (cask: Port Pipe 1st fill, 203 bottles):

BOMB of this selection. Warning, this is not an easy whisky, it is not universal! Originally from Taiwan, Kavalan has risen in less than 14 years as one of the best distilleries in the world. His specialty: extreme casks, the quintessence from a «wood driven» point of view. Kavalan produces a balanced, Scottish, malty and oily distillate. The distillery then goes looking for the best barrels in the world, especially the Iberian Peninsula. Aging in Taiwan, in this warm climate, literally explodes the influence of wood. Evaporation, the share of angels, is huge and makes the exchange of water of life/ wood concentrate. The cask here is a real sponge and impregnates the whisky in a very short time. Aging is accelerated in these latitudes. 7 years in Taiwan is equivalent to nearly 25 years in Scotland. The 500L Port Pipe selected here gave only 203 bottles of 70cl after 7 years of aging… the share of angels exceeds 70%!  In blind tasting, it is difficult to differentiate this whisky from a very old rum or a large cognac. Everything is there: the power, the density, the intensity, the texture, the immense aromatic complexity between a real fruit salad, a spicy oriental dish, notes of old wooden box of the navy, the direct influence of the aromas of the Port wine... The fine malty note in the final brings us back from our round the world tour and reminds us that we are tasting a whisky! A rare tasting experience!

Arran 2008 11 years, 53.7% (two barrels: Pineau des Charentes, 965 bottles):

A small UFO like Arran likes to gratify us every year. This is our 5th bottling with the distillery! A very nice relationship of trust that settles in. We did not choose 1 but 2 barrels! 2 identical barrels, for a higher number of bottles! More bottles for more fun! Arran, its finesse and its iodine tip blend fantastically well with the influence of our dear Charente wine. A whisky that explodes with floral and spices, lots of freshness and very gourmet exotic fruit notes. 

Aberlour Kavalan Arran

Kilchoman 2013 Small Batch, 46.8% (three barrels: Bourbon and Sherry, 900 bottles):

An exclusive fashioned and assembled from 3 barrels! Two barrels of bourbon reduced to 46% for balance and roundness, and a cask of Sherry to the natural degree for the spice and fruit kick. The peat is full but easy, between earthy and smoky notes, pastry, fruity, and fresh maritime character, the youth of Kilchoman (founded in 2005) does not prevent it from producing real wonders!

Teeling 2008 10 years, 59.5% (cask: Sherry, 350 bottles):

Our 4th traffic jam already with this young and spirited Irish house! Teeling is one of the names that has given the Irish whiskey its rightful place in recent years. This is one of the few distilled double whiskeys in Ireland. The Sherry cask is here extremely powerful, dry, on spices and roasted notes of coffee and dark chocolate. The aromatic character also lets pass powerful notes of fruit (citrus, red fruits). The aromas are greedy, but the whole is explosive, powerful, and takes a lot of place in the mouth! A bomb as we like them!

Kilchoman Teeling

Our exploration in the distillery cellars in search of the best whiskies stops here… for now! So which of these whiskies do you like the most?

Do not hesitate to indulge yourself and discover a little more (in moderation) the world of our favorite malted beverage…

Take care everybody !

Article written by Quentin T.

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