maandag 5 september 2022

Spirits Inn Beringen 2022

I live in Beringen (Belgium). Each year in September, our local whisky club organises the “Spirits Inn Beringen” Festival. It’s a rather small festival, but people join us from all around the country, to sample rare and special spirits. Each year the members of the club build up the tension and tease us with pictures of very old or rare bottles that will be available for tasting. At last year’s edition, I managed to sample a spirit from the year of my birth, 1968. 

Of course, as a spiritsblogger, I already know several importers and distributors. When I visit this festival, they will have me taste a few new and exciting bottlings. This year, on the 5th edition of the event, I intended to search for the two most special bottles at the festival. 

Wine4you, represented this year by Jos Mertens, brought a Cognac Prunier Lot 40 (55%), distilled in 1940. That’s a whopping 81 years ago, at the very start of the Second World War. Cask strength Cognac from just one single barrel. Only 168 bottles could be filled, the angels already had a large share. Rated at 91/100 by Whiskyfun, 92/100 by Whiskynotes. 
81 years... You really need a moment to take this in. Even my parents (both already deceased) weren’t even born in 1940. What a great discovery. 

But… at the same table I saw another bottle, Cognac Mauxion Selection Borderies, distilled at the very start of the first World War in 1914… 108 years ago. That was two years before my eldest grandfather was born. This is absolutely the first bottle I wanted to taste. These very old bottles are not always a treasure, but this one sure is. Cognac and brandy often have very strong alcohol “burn”, which makes it almost impossible to detect their fantastic flavours and aromas. This one doesn’t. The balance of this bottle is extremely close to perfection. All the fruity flavours and aromas are present. It’s been a while since I’ve tasted something like this. What a discovery. A very old cask, at a certain point bottled and stored in “Dame-Jeanne” bottles (=large balloon bottles), which functioned as time capsules to preserve this great spirit. Now bottled again by Ivo Drabs and his team, for us to explore and enjoy.

A few booths to the right, Pieter from Malternative had me sample his latest discovery, another Cognac, distilled in 1975. Great story, he was hunting for casks in the Grand Champagne region, when he walked into a Boulangerie. They told him the neighbour across the road had some old casks ageing in his basement, they were even handed down from a former generation. One of those casks is now bottled and presented at this festival. Lots of flavours, but also still pretty “kick in the face” on alcohol. I think this is a great find for the real Cognac afficionado.  

At the Cinoco-booth, I tried Indri whisky from India, distilled near the Himalayan foothills. A blend of three kinds of casks (ex-Bourbon, ex-PX Sherry and ex-wine). Very interesting taste profile. Halfway through your sip, you’ll detect the typical slightly tart grape skin popping up. Very nice bottle to share with friends.  

Very tempting, but I really wanted something different. For my second “find of the year”, I’m going to promise you a “part 2” to this story. At the booth of “Het Aerts Paradijs”, I discovered a local producer of beer, apple juice, gin, apple brandy (Let’s call it a young Calvados) and… a soon-to-be-whisky. I already arranged to visit the distillery somewhere in the next few weeks. I think this is very interesting and I will write another article about their products. Interesting fact, the distillery is only a 7-minute drive from my office… 

Conclusion: Spirits Inn Beringen is still THE festival for old and rare spirits. This festival never disappoints, you’ll always be amazed by the bottles you’ll find and the spirits you’ll taste. See you next year!

Disclaimer: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

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