Review: Single Malt Whiskies of France’s Maison Benjamin Kuentz
Maison Benjamin Kuentz is a brand of single malt whiskies — four, at present — produced at G. Rozelieures Distillery in Lorraine, France. They’re all young whiskies — but quite fresh and light on their feet. I haven’t been able to track down a ton of production information about the products — but I did manage to source samples of three — which are bound for U.S. release — for review. A minuscule number of bottles are coming to our shores as we speak; I’ve yet to see any U.S. pricing, so I’m including pricing in euros for the time being.
All are 92 proof, packaged in 500ml bottles.
Maison Benjamin Kuentz (D’un) Verre Printanier – “(From a) spring glass.” This is “single malt from the Mirabelle plum country,” aged in a combination of cognac and bourbon casks — though not for long, judging by the color of the spirit. The nose pops sharply with notes of vanilla, lemon, cut grass, and some tobacco notes. There’s plenty of malt here, giving it a significant cereal character, but those secondary overtones dominate more clearly. On the palate, the whisky is soft and silky, again showing an ample malt/biscuit note, but cut nicely with vanilla and sugar cookie notes, giving it a golden, sunny composition. The finish is a bit rustic and a touch boozy, though notes of toasted coconut and malted milk emerge to give it some more nuance and a nice kick of sweetness. B+ / €54
Maison Benjamin Kuentz Fin de Partie – “Game over.” No additional production information available. Moderately sharp on the nose, with floral and camphor notes evident. There’s more wood influence here, particularly on the initially tough palate, which settles into a groove that showcases apple, golden raisins, and coconut notes. The finish remains on the tight side, focusing again on linen and floral notes — a touch of lavender in the mix. Quite feminine but evocative on the whole. B+ / €59
Maison Benjamin Kuentz Aux Particules Vines – I’m unclear on this translation, which is something like “With particles (of) vines.” Someone with better French than me, please correct me. This one spends six months finishing in Puligny-Montrachet white Burgundy wine barrels from the Chartron estate. The nose is quite fresh and surprisingly gentle, lightly nutty and with a touch of lemon again. The palate is rich but easygoing, with some saline and mild smoke notes emerging over time. I also get cocoa powder here, though there’s ample malt in the mix, too. The finish is drying but quite aromatic — nutty and malty… and quite refreshing, inviting repeated sampling. A- / €62