So first of all apologies for the delay since my last post, I’m new to this whole blogging melarchy!
Since my last post I have been experimenting with some of the aromatic herbs found in the maquis, I created a syrup using Nepita, the Corsican Catnip which pairs nicely, but weirdly with strawberries. I have also made a syrup using Immortelle, the sacred wild flower whose oil is prized by cosmetics companies. In hindsight I completely underestimated the power of it. The taste is an unusual bitter, aromatic, ‘perfumey’, curry flavour that will cut through everything else in a drink. The flavour comes through right at the end after all other flavours have passed over your palate. Too much of it and it leaves a horrible, soapy taste lingering in your mouth.
But get the balance right and it adds a very special something. It adds length to the cocktail drinking experience, leaving a taste that no one can quite figure out dancing around as the other flavours start to fade.
In an earlier post I briefly mentioned the Corsican whisky called P&M. It is made at the Mavela distillery towards the south of Corsica.
It is made using the malt from Pietra beer (a great Amber beer which you can find in almost every bar here) which is brewed, fermented and then distilled. Water from the St George pass near Ajaccio is then used to dilute the whisky down to bottling strength, You can actually buy the same water as a bottled mineral water which I thought was quite cool.
The whisky is then aged in ex-Muscat (a white wine) oak barrels on the Domaine Gentile vineyard. As you can imagine, this creates a very unique whisky.
Going back to my first week here, fresh off the boat and still sunburnt (thankfully the smell of diesel had faded), to my first tasting of P&M my first impression was that I wasn’t so keen. It was unlike a whisky I’d ever tasted before. Strange. If you did a blind tasting I’m sure some wouldn’t even say it was a whisky!
As I have learnt more about Corsica and the ingredients that can be found on its hillsides and in its forests, I have gone back to P&M several times to try to get my head around it. I think I’m almost there.
On the nose it is extremely herbal, the aromatic plants of the Maquis making an appearance; Myrtle, thyme, bitter orange, also a piney hint, almost like Juniper, another plant found in abundance here!
On the palate it is as you expect it to taste. Herbal herbal herbal. Almost like a Genever! Some oak, and a vegetal tannic finish.
To some of you this must sound like an absolute nightmare of a dram. It’s not. It’s intriguing. A whisky you can really sit and think about. Walking through the different flavours that pop up like a stroll through the maquis itself.
In fact, in 2013, Jim Murray named P&M the fifth best whisky in the world and a 91/100 rating in his ‘Whisky Bible’. Not too bad then!
Ok, so time for a cocktail…
I created this a couple of days ago while behind the bar at Le Colomba in the Old port of Bastia. Someone asked for something local and this was the result.
‘Into the Mystic’
50ml P&M Whisky de Corse
20ml Fresh Corsican Grapefruit juice
15ml Fresh Corsican Lemon juice
20ml sugar syrup
10ml Homemade Immortelle syrup
I garnished it with fresh flowering thyme