Hautefeuille Esquisse n°11
A vacation purchase, Part deux.
Last week I was on vacation. With the family. (1 Wife and 1 son. Cats stayed at home.)
To France. The land of wine, cheese and baguettes. And whisky!
I did a blog about the French whisky Sequoia Tourbé some time ago and in it I explained that the French love their whisky.
I really liked that distillery, because they used local barley. But I never visited it myself.
This time however, that would be different! When my vacation time came closer, I did a Google search for whisky on maps. Just like I did with my trip to San Diego.
And again, I got hits. Since it was a family vacation, I found it only fair of me to limit myself to visiting one distillery. The choice landed on Distillerie d'Hautefeuille, a distillery in the heart of Picardy in France. Founded in 2016. And build on the grounds of something that looked like a palace.
In the days towards the day I wanted to visit, I filled in a form on the website, with a request to visit the distillery. A response never came, so I decided to just drive there and see what what would happen.
Upon arrival, I realised I needed to speak French. Now normally, I can make myself understandable in French. Things like buying bread or wine or cheese. Asking directions on the way. Normal, daily stuff.
But I never discussed whisky before in French. And, not trying to offend the French: Their English is more often than not, limited.
We got out of the car and encountered a young man, who decided to do a quick greeting and asked if he could help us. When I explained myself in my broken French, he responded immediately: Visiting the distillery was only available with an appointment. (The one I failed to make.)
Luckily for me, buying a bottle was possible. Would I like to try the whiskies and gin first?
Sure! Why not, tasting is even better than looking at a still, right?
We were guided towards l'accueil of the place, where an interesting session of trying to understand each other followed. First of all: That guy was awesome. While writing this, I realised I never got his name. He did his very best to tell me all he knew about the whisky and I got to taste the selection on offer.
Now these are young whiskies. The distillery started in 2016, so don't expect a 12 year old whisky.
Secondly: The barley (or l'orge as I learned that day) is cultivated on the grounds of the family land. This makes it a kind of an estate whisky.
Third: Every "Esquisse" or sketch/edition, is a limited edition. I got to taste Esquisse 11 and 12.
I bought the Esquisse 11.
The "Esquisse n°11" is a so called "whiskie tourbé", and as far as I know, tourbe means peat. So it is a peated whisky. The whisky is aged on French oak and finished on ex Pedro Ximenez casks.
On the eye I had a beautiful fresh light golden color. With some fine tears after a twirl.
On the nose I had a beautiful hint of smoke. The peat. But it was not an ashy smell. More like the fine smell of a wood fire hanging over the fields on a fresh winter morning. After the smoke a full set of notes of fruits, citrus and honey.
Taste: A light hint of fresh pear, apple, spices and a medicinal spirit.
Finish: a light hint of minty smoke. Fresh, not dominating. Citrus. A bit of cinnamon.
Special thanks goes towards my wife, who was so kind to take all the photo's during the tasting and after. Most of which did not make this page.
Secondly I like to thank the kind young man that helped me, explained everything he knew and assisted me in the purchase of this bottle. Even when I might have been using the wrong words and grammar.
Since my French was not sufficient to understand all that has been explained, I'd like to apologize to Distillerie d'Hautefeuille for anything I might have misunderstood and penned down incorrectly on this page. Please contact me if something needs to be altered.
As a final notice: I do recommend getting a bottle "dans la chateau" as the French would say if it was wine. But if you like to visit the distillery, make an appointment. I advise you to call instead of using the form online.
Want to discover more French whiskies? Visit peatdream.com for an insane map and links to all the distilleries.