Every now and then, a new product arrives at TWE that really excites us – unique, with a great back story, or simply an interesting concept. So, when we heard about the release of a French alpine rye, we were eager to find out more.
Vulson is a collaboration between agronomist Frédéric Revol, owner and master distiller at Domaine des Hautes Glaces, and Xavier Padovani – director of Experimental Cocktail Club and former brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin and Monkey Shoulder.
Domaine des Hautes Glaces is located in the western Alps – 30 miles south of Grenoble in the south-eastern French department of Isère. An organic farm, as can be seen from the photograph below, it is home to one of the world’s most beautiful distillery views.
The first release is Vulson White Rhino Rye, named in honour of Marcus Vulson de la Colombière, a famous heraldist and poet who constructed the domaine’s chateau in 1616. Here are some interesting facts:
- the entire process from grain to bottle is carried out on site
- the rye used is organic, grown and malted on the estate
- fermentation takes 120 hours – similar to the longest fermentation times in Scotland
- the wash is triple-distilled in copper pot stills, which are heated by direct flame obtained by burning recycled wooden pallets
- the yield is low – just 280 litres of alcohol per tonne of rye (the norm is around 320 litres)
The spirit is left to rest in stainless-steel tanks for around a year before being bottled using a gravity system (a method also used at Sweden’s Mackmyra). From planting the rye to bottling White Rhino has taken two years – a much longer period than most other unaged spirits – so let’s see what it tastes like:
Nose: A classic unaged spirit nose. There’s no overwhelming alcohol notes; instead, there’s cream soda, white pepper, green apple and cinnamon.
Palate: Richer, sweeter and more complex on the palate than I was expecting. A whack of cereal at the front turns into warming dry honey in the middle, with white pepper and clove bringing up the rear.
Finish: Short to medium, with a lingering spiciness.
Comment: A lot more interesting and complex than I was expecting from such a young spirit. It’s full of flavour.
Nose: Sour apple spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, with mineral touches and freshly milled grain. Clean and uncomplicated, but with more interest than many unaged spirits.
Palate: Soft and sweet, with growing cinnamon and clove, cream and some of the stony minerality from the nose. Gets fruitier and spicier as it sits on the tongue, developing some resinous notes.
Finish: Spicy but short, with a bit of apple and some anise.
Comment: Surprising – from the nose, I expected something with a lot less complexity and flavour. It’s got the spice, fruit and interest that you want in a sipper and it’s got enough punch to work well in cocktails.
The first release shows a great deal of potential and we await further (aged) releases of Vulson Rye, and indeed of Les Moissons Single Malt, also made at the distillery, the first batch of which was bottled a few months ago and will arrive soon.