I started the week with a review of a Taiwanese malt whisky and on Wednesday I had a review of an Irish whiskey. Might as well make it an all non-Scotch whisky week. In fact, no whisky at all today but a brandy. And not just any type of brandy but another of those wild and crazy marcs or French pomace brandies. I’ve had two before and like the second of those this sample came to me from Florin, Prince of Tyre.
As I hope you don’t recall, the 7 yo Jacoulot—the first marc I ever tried—put me in mind of Hampden’s rums with its wild notes of rotting garbage and aniseed but—perhaps because I have been beaten down by Hampden—I liked it well enough anyway. And I liked the second one, a 15 yo Cartron, even more. Those were both marcs de Bourgogne. This one is from the Jura region and at 10 years of age is closer to the Jacoulot than the Cartron. Florin describes it as a wild marc and you might think that I would find it to be closer to the Jacoulot in character as well; but—as you will see—I actually find it to be quite refined. I don’t know what to make of that but here are my notes anyway.
Domaine Labet 10, 2003, Marcs du Jura (45%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: This is a pretty refined garbage heap shot through with aniseed, mint, dill and resting on a bed of orange peel and apricot jam. As it sits the sweeter fruit moves up to the top and there’s some cherry too now; some salt too now. As it sits the aniseed and mint and the garbage heap recede further and further, some notes of orange hard candy emerge, and this almost threatens to enter the “normal” brandy zone. A nutty, beany note emerges with a few drops of water.
Palate: The aniseed is the top note here, and it’s quite mellow on the whole. A good drinking strength—blind I might have guessed it was at higher than 45%—and nice texture. More herbal on the second sip and there’s also some polished oak. Mellower and mellower here too with time but the aniseed and herbal notes are still upfront. Okay, let’s add water. A few drops of water and there’s some oaky bite now but it’s otherwise mostly the same.
Finish: Long. The aniseed turns to menthol as it goes and the mint is joined by some sage. Oak and spice here too with water and it gets quite peppery at the end.
Comments: Well, I will admit I didn’t have my expectations set very high but this handily beat them anyway. I thought this was the most approachable—from a whisky drinker’s standpoint—of the three marcs I’ve had. Or is it the case that I’m just less resistant to the general profile with each one I try? Anyway, I enjoyed this a fair but.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Florin for the sample!