The Roots is a young bottler from Belgium founded by Joren Nuyts. And that he doesn’t settle for less is evident from his inaugural releases: an Invergordon 1972, Prunier Lot 40 cognac of no less than 81 years old, and a Bellevue rum de Guadeloupe from 1998. So I have an exceptional line-up to taste today, which is also completely different from what many other (new) bottlers release!
Joren is very passionate about whisky and other spirits. But the start as a bottler has not been easy for him. At the end of 2020, he lost his girlfriend to skin cancer. Way too young and a very sad event that you hope no one will ever experience. However, when you experience something like this, you also start to look at things differently. Or, as Joren describes it so beautifully on his website: ‘Coping with loss means that you are reminded not to postpone things you really want to do in your life. Chase your dreams and dare to try ’cause life is a one-way ticket; there’s no return.’
A great loss, but it was also the start of finally following his dream of becoming a bottler. Which he has only been able to make true with a good dose of positivity and perseverance, and eventually led to these three beauties.
So, the first one I will taste is a 49 year old Invergordon, a single grain distilled in 1972 and bottled in 2022 at a strength of 40.3% ABV.
Invergordon 1972 tasting notes:
Nose: ahhh that typical note of glue, which I have more often in grain whisky, although quite gentle. Honey and coconut. Then oranges but also a hint of bananas. Hazelnuts, but more into the background. Followed by marzipan and a note of vanilla custard.
Taste: oranges again, and bananas too. Tobacco leaves. Earl Grey tea. A bit of honey and candied lemons. This is followed by a touch of oak. Cinnamon, ginger, and a pinch of black pepper. Mint too, but more into the back.
Finish: mid-long and dry, with notes of honey and cinnamon.
Really good. This shows again how good those older grain whiskies can be. The ABV is on the low side, but it’s working just fine with this Invergordon. Lots of flavours. A beautiful nose and palate. Just a bit one-dimensional in the finish, perhaps. But overall: delicious!
Next up is an 81 year old cognac Grande Champagne from the renowned cognac house “Prunier”. Distilled way back in 1940! It was bottled at 55% ABV. It will be difficult for me to review this one, as I simply don’t have enough experience with cognac, so I can’t really compare it. I will share my tasting notes here, but I will not give a score.
Maison Prunier Lot 40 tasting notes:
Nose: slightly woody and wood spices, like nutmeg and cloves mostly, but also some black pepper. Dried prunes and apricots. Old tobacco leaves and a note of leather. Shoe polish. A floral note. And somehow, I get a whiff of celery. Then it goes towards honey and oranges. A note of toffee and cocoa.
Taste: dark chocolate. Oranges again, but also a tropical note from passion fruit and apricots. Tobacco leaves here as well. Leather and wood varnish. Toffee. And the same spices as in the nose: nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper. There’s an oak note as well, which is followed by pine needles.
Finish: long with plenty of tobacco and wood varnish. An oak note and dark chocolate, but also pine needles.
Beautiful, and as I said above: I have never tasted such an old cognac before! So I really can’t compare. But it’s big, bold and dark, and quite complex. Fantastic from start to finish!
This last one is a rum de Guadeloupe of 24 years old, which has matured in a refill barrel and was bottled at 51.5% ABV.
Bellevue 1998 tasting notes:
Nose: bananas and apricots at first, but there is also a diesel note? Dark chocolate and rich honey. Then a hint of golden syrup and brown sugar. Oranges A note of breakfast tea, which is followed by almonds and cinnamon.
Taste: immediately I get that tea note again but mixed with dark chocolate and caramel. Oranges again, but also bananas and pineapple. Then tobacco leaves but also a little bit of tar. A bit of oak in the back and a herbal note. Some mint, which is followed by cinnamon.
Finish: long with a touch of oak, caramel, and a herbal note.
Yes, this is something I really love; it’s funky and rich in flavour. Very enjoyable! FWIW, this is one of the better rums I’ve had. But I should mention that I don’t drink rum very often, although I really like it.
Samples provided by The Roots.