Michiel Wigman is back at it again. He launched two new releases late last year; one from Scotland, the other from France. It’s not his first-ever Cognac, but it is the first time I’m reviewing one. And what better way to start with a Petite Champagne with a 1967 Vintage. Also, there’s a 15-year-old Caol Ila. Can’t really go wrong there, can you?
Caol Ila 2006 15 Years (53.3%, Michiel Wigman, 2022)
Nose: Warming wood smoke with gentle farmy notes, quinces, vanilla biscuits and lemons, but also a touch of olive brine. Then there’s a gentle sea breeze, some licorice root and nutmeg, with a whiff of oysters as well. Taste: Damp oak, pralines and cinnamon with a smoky bonfire. An oily mouthfeel to boot. Somewhat ashy, but also brine and iodine, and sweet barley husks. Not unlike like sugared breakfast cereals. Oh, and lemons of course! Finish: Long. Some oak spices with kippers and minerals. Lingering wood smoke.
A slightly more mature, well-rounded Caol Ila with great balance. Whereas many younger Caol Ila (sometimes only a few years) seem a bit more rugged, this is very polished.
Cognac Petite Champagne Référence 67 (57.2%, Michiel Wigman, 2022)
Nose: Touches of tobacco leaves, moss, star anise and furniture polish. Also dark, honeyed notes, Maraschino cherries, figs and dried apricots, with a whisper of cinnamon buns, orange blossom and mango. Finally a bit of soy sauce even. Taste: A touch of lychee, walnuts, raspberry jam and prunes, but also cigar boxes, cedarwood and orange zest. Then some damp oak, menthol and soft tannins. Finish: Medium to long. Slightly herbacious, warming spices and apricots.
A delightful Cognac, with lovely interplay between autumnal notes and more vibrant fruits. Very taken by this.
Two very different spirits, but two absolute winners.
The Caol Ila just has a maturity level that transcends many of Caol Ila that are released nowadays, most of them in their early teens. It seems as if just a few extra years have made an important difference. But then again, some casks are just mature at an earlier age, because every cask is different, yada yada yada. Anyway, available from Michiel’s own webshop.
Speaking of maturity…
The Cognac Petite Champagne Référence 67 is just a very neat example of spirit and cask working wonderfully together. Yes, the cask is very present, but not dominant, and the fruitiness does wonders here. Very inspirational. Available from Best of Whiskies.