Whiskey Review: Whiskey Del Bac Normandie

, | November 27, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Whiskey Del Bac. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Ever wonder what the desert tastes like? This bottled desert dessert is an annual release coming straight out of the heart of the desert in Tucson, Arizona.

Normandie is Whiskey Del Bac’s Classic American single malt whiskey, which is then finished in Calvados brandy barrels for an additional 13 months. Calvados is an apple brandy only produced in Normandy, France, which is what inspired the name for this release.

Whiskey Del Bac’s distillery is located along the Santa Cruz River. The whole whiskey-making process goes down in their 8,000 square foot space: malting, mashing, fermenting, distilling, barreling, and bottling.

It was in 2006, when Stephen Paul and his wife Elaine were barbecuing over mesquite wood (a type of wood readily available in the region) when a curious question arose from Elaine. “What if you could malt barley over a mesquite fire instead of a peat fire like they do in Scotland?”

From that point on, Stephen set out on a quest to answer that question. There has been a ton of growth in the process. Stephen started with a five gallon pot still, then graduated to a 40 gallon still, and now runs a 500 gallon system to get larger quantities out to the masses. Alongside his daughter and other co-founder, Amanda Paul, the two create whiskey that captures Arizona’s unique character.

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It was in 2013 that the three core expressions were released: Dorado, Clear, and Classic. In company with the core lineup, an annual Distiller’s Cut is also released. This year’s Distiller’s Cut is Normandie and only 900 bottles were released in select national markets.

Whiskey Del Bac Normandie review

Whiskey Del Bac Normandie (image via Moriah Hilden/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Whiskey Del Bac Normandie

Vital Stats: 97 proof. Mash bill: 100% malted barley.  No age statement. Price is $90 for 750ml bottle. 

Appearance: The rusty burgundy color immediately demands your attention.  It would seem the viscosity would be thick, with parts of legs slowly running down the curved edge of my Glencairn glass, or not coming out to play at all.  

Nose: Caramel green apple bursts through on the forefront. Saltwater taffy makes an appearance too, making you think you were at a beachside fair. At the very tail end, there is the slightest hint of of smoke.

PalateThe mouthfeel is playful. The heat numbs the mouth for a moment as it then transitions into drying out the palate, but a surprise turn arises in the form of a pleasant, silky finish. The flavor profile includes bright lemon, green apples, crème brûlée, and dark fruit like baked dates.

Whiskey Review: Whiskey Del Bac Normandie
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Summary

American Single Malt is a rising category and hopefully one about to be officially recognized by the TTB. With this particular bottling, Normandie is a prime example of how the category. This past year, I spent some time in the desert, and it now has a special place in my heart. This whiskey captures the beauty and flavors of that hot and dusty place. The Calvados barrels’ influence is prominent in this whiskey, as it brightens and awakens your senses with the initial caramel apple punch. A flirtatious mouthfeel takes you on a journey from dry to silky, making you crave another sip.

Stephen Paul, Amanda Kramer, and the rest of the distilling team show remarkable craftsmanship at every stage of the process, from malting to maturation. Whiskey Del Bac deserves recognition for their bottled glory.

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