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Friday, May 3, 2024

Four whiskies at Golden Promise

While in Paris, I did not drink very much whisky, because wine. But I did go to the most famous whisky bar in town, Golden Promise.

Owned by La Maison du Whisky, the bar is located in the basement of LMDW's Japan-themed location. The warm lights of the standard bar greats visitors first, but then......to the right......there's the room of Rare, Scarce, Unicorn, Holy Shit This Can't Be Real. But it is real, and it's expensive. It's difficult to judge the prices on individual whiskies because Golden Promise has open bottles of whiskies that might not be available in any other European bar. (If you're feeling curious and masochistic, a version of their menu is/was available on the official site, as is a video that gives a little peek into The Room.)

The staff and service were excellent, and very patient as I walked countless laps around the shelves. Also true to my brand, I promptly spilled a half a pour of one of my whiskies; and the staff refilled my glass immediately.

These were my drinks for the night:

Famous Grouse "OVER 7 YEARS OLD", 43%abv

I've enjoyed several different versions of dusty Famous Grouse, and can confirm that the blend was still excellent right up through the 1980s. Golden Promise had a 1970s Italian import of the "Over 7 Years" edition, so I chose that as a palate tester.

The nose begins with a burst of polished leather and a hot greasy engine. Notes of dark soy sauce and amaretto appear after 20 minutes. The palate reads stronger and older than the official numbers, sometimes more like a dusty old brandy than scotch. Thick honey and sweet cara cara oranges settle in first, followed by Havdalah spice box and chili powder. Its moderate length finish offers orange marmalade spiked with chile oil.

This is Exhibit 7012 of why I adore old blends. It's dense, heavy, rich stuff that reads like it's all malt, all great malt. Were this any other situation, I would have gone for a second pour. But it was time to move on, my palate was awake. Rating: 87

Too many options awaited me so I strategized, deciding to focus on defunct whisky ranges and well-aged versions of less-glamorous single malts. I selected the Rare Malts, a series that ended just as I was getting into single malts, and a trio of distilleries I enjoy.

Auchroisk 28yo 1974 56.8%abv Rare Malts
Glen Ord 23yo 1974 60.8%abv Rare Malts
Dailuaine 22yo 1973 60.92%abv Rare Malts

Auchroisk 28yo 1974

Lovely mellow American oak merging with this Speyside spirit results in lots of limoncello and fresh cherries in the nose, with hints of anise and Play Doh in the background. The palate is positively soaked with tropical fruits. Dried mango, dried purple sweet potato, fresh lychees and kiwis. A dash of horseradish brightens it further. It finishes tarter with nectarines joining the dried mango.

With water, the whisky shifts a little, while holding onto its highlights. Guavas, baked pears, and mint leaves enter the nose. More citrus, more chiles, and little bit of chocolate show up on the palate.

It was such at knockout pour that I indeed knocked over my glass......which, by the way, opens a whisky very nicely. This Auchroisk had my favorite palate of the evening and took to careful dilution flawlessly. Love this stuff. Rating: 91

Glen Ord 23yo 1974

I'm not sure I can fully capture the nose's complexity here. Musty basement, car repair garage, something smoky, something savory, guava, citronella, light blue Mr Sketch marker, and a whisper of oak spice. Peach cobbler, fragrant peppercorns, and smoky mushrooms appear first in the palate, which then gets mustier, and more mineral, while also picking up some hay notes in the background. The mineral note merges well with the peaches in the finish.

Adding water brings out more dunnage and slight meatiness in the nose, while the palate balances umami and citrus notes.

This Glen Ord offered a fun, slightly dirtier edge when compared to the other two Rare Malts, but never sold out in any single direction. It drank very easily for its strength, and swam well, like its compatriots. Rating: 90 

Dailuaine 22yo 1973

This nose keeps improving with time. First there was milk chocolate and dried apricot. Then cloves and toffee pudding. Then grapefruit. Finally, hay and dried herbs swooped up and bundled all those characteristics together. Like the nose, this palate has multiple gears. Grapefruit, Thai chile, lychee candy, and industrial coal smoke arrive first. Then comes the umami, which calms it down, followed by something very mineral. It finishes with the umami and mineral up front. Moments of fruit in the middle. A dash of gochujang in the back.

With water, all of its aspects come together in harmony, with new notes of dunnage and mango all over the nose and palate.

The gentleman who poured these whiskies told me afterwards that this was his favorite of the three, and I'm going to have to agree, thanks to its complexity, balance, and its gorgeous shift once diluted. I can't imagine what it's like to have a whole bottle of this. Rating: 92

After this session I didn't drink whisky again during my Paris stay. Nothing could compete. If you're in the neighborhood, I highly recommend a visit to Golden Promise, even if it's to just see the bottles and maybe get a pour of something you cannot find anywhere else.