Yes, another new independent bottler. Is there room for one more? I suppose the market will decide. The Roots is run by Joren Nuyts, who’s relatively new to the world of spirits, but has done some impressive catching up over the last five years. And he’s not lacking for passion either. Today we’ll take a look at his inaugural releases – a single grain Invergordon 1972, Prunier Cognac Lot 40 and a Bellevue Rum 1998.
The best way to introduce The Roots and Joren is probably by writing about my own experience with him so far. We’d never met in person up until a few weeks ago, but we had sparingly been in touch via Instagram and I was aware Joren had been reading my blog for years.
What comes next is a very personal detail, but Joren assured me I could share this chapter of his life, which I think provides important insight into this new independent bottler. So here goes…
Joren previously told me about his plans to start his own small whisky business, and his reason for it. In 2020 Joren lost his partner Nathalie to skin cancer. I can’t even begin to imagine. It’s the kind of devastating loss no one should ever experience. But from what Joren tells me, together they’d approached life with a certain optimism, so he is dedicated to keeping up that positivity.
As people are often wont to do after life-changing experiences, Joren started to re-evaluate some of his goals and what he wanted out of life. Nathalie had always been extremely supportive of his whisky journey, so he wanted to honor that support by taking the next step. That next step became The Roots.
Long story short, Joren contacted me if he could deliver some samples of his inaugural releases in person. After gently reminding him that I live some three hours away, and him still insisting on dropping by, I gladly accepted his offer. We met at a lunch place not far from where I live, and as these things sometimes go, almost three hours went by in a flash.
Joren is my kind of people. Not just because he likes the same things that I do. He’a inquisitive and shows a genuine interest during conversations. And that’s rarer than you might think. I also have a tendency to drift off sometimes, but Joren is Engaged with a capital E. And that made me engage in turn. He’s just a very pleasant person to talk with. I’m happy he’ll also be visiting Whiskybase Gathering later this year, so we can continue our conversation some more then.
But back to what you came here for, The Roots’ inaugural releases. The lineup is impressive with a 49-year-old Invergordon single grain, a Prunier ‘Grande Champagne’ Cognac Lot 40, and a 24-year-old Bellevue Rum. But stocks are limited: only 60 bottles of the single grain, 42 bottles of the cognac and 115 bottles of the rum. It most certainly is an approach of quality over quantity.
Before we begin, I’d like to preface that these will be the first rum and cognac reviews on Words of Whisky. I enjoy cognac and rum from time to time, but simply haven’t written about it on here. I don’t drink it as often as I want or maybe should, but between whisky and genever there’s only so much time (and liver) to spare. Please just remember that these reviews are done from the frame of reference of a whisky drinker.
Invergordon 1972 (40.3%, The Roots)
Nose: There’s some wood glue and shoe polish, but it is really elegant, velvety almost. Nicely acidic with a whisper of orange zest, which is balanced by touches of coconut, vanilla beans, stewed bananas, quinces and some perfumed floral notes. Taste: First a quiet whisper of orange liqueur, some syrupy apricots and black tea leaves, but also tobacco and leather. It has this surprising rum-like quality at times. There’s honey too, accompanied by a pinch of pepper and a hint of crushed mint leaves. Finish: Medium in length. Lingering sweet honey, a subtle ginger-y spiciness and slight grassiness.
Don’t be fooled by the rocks that… I mean abv, because this single grain Invergordon is far from over the top. Truly elegant on the nose, but just lacking a little depth on the palate to get to an even higher score.
Prunier Cognac Lot 40 ‘Grande Champagne’ (55%, The Roots)
Nose: Rich and voluptuous. Opening up on a tinge of cough syrup, but also orange liqueur before evolving into earthy rancio territory – cigar boxes, tobacco, decaying leaves and mushrooms. Also a hint of cocoa powder, umami, prunes and tinned peaches with a floral elegance. Finally some coffee beans. Taste: Arrives on notes of aniseed before an eruption of figs, plums, passion fruit, apricots and fruit peels. Just a hint of leather, cracked black peppercorns and cloves. Earthy, pine needles and some raisins to round things out. Finish: Long. Somewhat tannic, minty and with a dash of pepper, but ending on fruity, syrupy notes.
One or two sips of this is enough to keep you entertained an entire evening. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but this Prunier lingers for a long while, and flavour-wise it runs the gamut of fruity, earthy, oaky, acidic and herbacious.
Bellevue 1998 24 Years (51.5%, The Roots, C#25)
Nose: Opening up on notes of petrol, tar and furniture polish, quickly followed by grilled pineapple, as well as mushy bananas and tinned apricots. There’s touches of almond paste, cinnamon and spice cake too. It’s sweet, but rather funky as well. Complexity is certainly up there. Taste: Really a continuation of the nose. More overripe bananas, pickled oranges, stewed apples and sweet pineapple, but balanced by tar, diesel and some herbal and minty undertones. Also whiffs of toffee, linseed oil and acetone. Finish: Long with hints of fennel, espresso, overripe banana and rubber.
Just a remarkable rich, somewhat funky spirit that balances fruity influences with industrial elements. I should really add rums like these to my drinks diet on a more regular basis.
First impressions count. And this was one magnificent first impression of The Roots. Each of the spirits is exemplary of their category. They’ll be officially launched on September 11th during a festival called Whiske near Antwerpen, Belgium.