In the frenetic world of French whiskies, Alfred Giraud is quietly pushing the boundaries. The Giraud family has been making and aging cognac for generations, and is now putting that expertise into premium French whisky. For Voyage, cellar master Gaetan Mariolle began to experiment with French robinia casks, a wood that has occasionally been used for wine, but not for spirits. He had to be extremely careful to avoid the tannins becoming too intense, but once he was satisfied, the stock was blended with sweeter sauternes cask-matured single malt. Next, they undertook their first finishing experiment, mellowing the blend in XO cognac casks of limousin oak for 6 months. Suffice to say, Voyage is scarce, with only four or five barrels a year. Rarer still is Intrigue, a new triple malt aged in their signature very old cognac casks, with a small influence of new American oak and some new French oak from the family’s forestry operations in limousin. The blend was then divided into a sauvignon blanc cask and an undisclosed “magic” cask, which previously contained a 65 year old product so unique that they decided to keep it a secret to prevent imitation. Subsequently, this is a unique and unrepeatable whisky, sold exclusively through the Alfred Giraud U.S. website.
Alfred Giraud Intrigue and Voyage Reviewed
Alfred Giraud Intrigue
92 points, 51.7%, $463
Small batch experimental whisky with an invigorating nose of apple, Seckel pear, vanilla, primrose, lemon zest, spring blos- soms, and fresh linen. It’s a sweet and vinous affair, with lemon curd, lime marmalade, vanilla sugar, grapefruit, pear, cognac notes, and black pepper, with creamed coconut rounding out a sweet, mouth-saturating finish of lemon and vanilla that persists for an eternity. (150 bottles for the U.S.)—Jonny McCormick
Alfred Giraud Voyage
92 points, 48%, $185
An exploratory blend of two single malts matured in sauternes and French robinia casks and finished in cognac casks. Delight- ful, fresh, and lilting with orchard fruits, floral notes, gooseberry fool, chantilly cream, sliced grape, crisp barley, and fresh apple peel, balanced with light oak and a sprinkle of spice. Flavors of black currant, honey, russet apple, and pepper before it succumbs to the cognac’s influence. Preferred this one with water. (405 bottles for the U.S.)—Jonny McCormick