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Whisky Pairings For Every Stage Of The 2024 Tour De France

Welcome to a world first—a grand tour not just of France, but of flavour! As we anticipate whether Mark Cavendish will sprint to his 35th stage victory, surpassing Eddy Merckx’s record, or if Tadej Pogačar will once again don the esteemed yellow jersey, we present a unique pairing for each stage of the Tour De France.

Stage 1: Florence to Rimini (Hilly)

Whisky: Aberfeldy 18yo Bolgheri Italian Red Wine Finish

● This whisky captures the essence of the Tuscan capital and the richness of the countryside between the West and East Coasts. The rich red fruit and spicy oak characteristics of this finish, aligned with the toffee sweet, city centre library aroma, capture a slice of history of the Tour De France, and its start point this year of Florence.

Stage 2: Cesenatico to Bologna (Hilly)

Whisky: Dràm Mòr 11yo Tullibardine Máté Toscana Red Wine Finish.

Celebrate the stramash of the peloton in the second with this wild dram. This is one to share, for sure. For the red wine lover, this spirit is punchy and full bodied, and if you weren’t into whisky before, this is going down the rabbit hole. For the whisky lover, this is a dram, heavily influenced by its time in the cask. The deep red signifies real serious business has taken place. It courses over the tongue and dances elegantly, like dancing a jig on holiday.

Stage 3: Plaisance to Turin (Flat) – Classic Elegance

Whisky: Springbank 9yo Barolo Cask Strength

Much like the Baroudeur, this breakaway specialist has an aggressive style of play at 54.7%, presenting with the true taste of Campbeltown prevalent in its showing. This Barolo cask finish showcases the food characteristics of the Piedmont region, with roast beef with a French onion gravy followed up with some red grapes for dessert. The ABV marries well with the finish and mixes to bring flavour to the forefront.

Stage 4: Pinerolo to Valloire (Mountain) – Alpine Adventure

Whisky: Glenlivet, French Oak 15yo Vieux Carré

Vieux Carré Cocktail – This challenging terrain can be matched with a Vieux Carré cocktail. Originally served first in 1930s New Orleans, this refreshing tipple is one for the fans of Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and Sazerac. It’s boozy, sweet, bitter and smooth. The Glenlivet provides a muscular spice while the cognac adds fruit punch to the fold. Shake together 25ml of Glenlivet, French Oak 15yo, 25ml of Cognac, 25ml of Sweet Vermouth, 1tsp of Benidictine, 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters and a cup of ice and strain into a highball. Pierce a Maraschino Cherry and lay over the top of the glass. Voila!

Stage 5: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Saint-Vulbas (Flat) – Refreshing Break

Whisky: Lindores Abbey MCDXCIV

The Combativité award certainly is bestowed upon this spirit. The communes of Saint Jean de Maurienne are revered for their monasteries. We’ve paired the two with Lindores Abbey MCDXCIV (1494). Originally the site of Friar Jon Cor and his VIII bolls of malt, Lindores Abbey is on the outskirts of Newburgh in Fife, and is said to be the birthplace of Whisky in Scotland. It’s now a reduced ruin, but still worth a visit, or a pilgrimage of sorts. The MCDXCIV has been matured in a combination of Bourbon, Sherry and Wine Barrique casks. Presenting with a honey gold colour, this is a standout dram on any shelf, and despite it’s price tag should not be underestimated.

Stage 6: Mâcon to Dijon (Flat) – Burgundy Elegance

Whisky: Benromach 10

● Now, I know that you may be committing sacrilege in some settings, however the smokey peaty notes of a Benromach 10 lend really well to a smoky whisky sauce. Heat butter and oil in a pan, and reduce onions until they are translucent. Drop in a good 50ml of Benromach 10 and bring up to a heat, then light the spirit to burn off the alcohol. When the flame dies down naturally, add double cream and a good dollop of Dijon and wholegrain mustards and stir. Once brought up to temp, add a dash of lemon juice before drizzling over your dish. It goes superbly with fish, or over a good steak from your local butcher.

Stage 7: Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin (Individual Time-Trial) – Precision and Balance

Whisky: Tomintoul NAS Pinot Noir Cask Finish

The pinot noir casks from burgundy pair well with the gentle spirit from Speyside here. This Domestique worker bee of a whisky really looks after you. Its soft palate coats everything gently, leaving a really pleasant afterglow. There’s a reason Tomintoul are dubbed as The Gentle Dram. Nosing this whisky reminds me of my holiday in France. There’s oodles of aromas of pastries, baking spices and berries. Upon tasting, there’s baked fruits, and its sweet and tart notes really come to the fore on second nosing. The comfort of a Christmas in Burgundy sails into a finish of cloves, the logs cracking on the fire in the chalet, vanilla ice cream and gingerbread men all just making the sofa that little bit more comfortable.

Stage 8: Semur-en-Auxois to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises (Flat) – Historical Elegance

Whisky: Distillerie de Paris – Single Malt

Colomey les Deux Églises plays host to the wartime hero and French stalwart, Charles De Gaulle, so I’ve paired this stage with the heroic spirit from Distillerie de Paris. This whisky is a triumph, and from the outside, does not look like a distillery as you and I may know it. From the centre of Paris arrives this big hitting city slicker. Salted caramel, black pepper, ginger and orange oils dive nose first into herbaceous gardens in the sunshine, cinnamon swirls, heather and honey on the palate. Finishing with artisan chocolates and a good old cigarette by the Sienne River on the Avenue de New York. Tremendous.

Stage 9: Troyes Circular (Hilly) – Troyes Twist

Whisky: Bunnahabhain 1988 Champagne Cask Finish – Feis Ile 2019

This stage deserves a dram you can just keep nosing and tasting until the bottle is done. Somehow, the flavour profile seems to change the whole way through the dram. I’ve never had anything like this before. There’s a basic sweet but sour nose, much like a champagne. It noses like a fresh pan of homemade jam, with hints of new wine, or cider. The taste develops wildly on the tongue, sweet and sour again, but creamy vanilla. It’s yeasty and pleasant. It’s a dry finish and threatens to finish short, but somehow lingers on the tongue.

Stage 10: Orléans to Saint-Amand-Montrond (Flat) – French Flair

Whisky: Seven Three Distilling Co. Bywater Straight Bourbon – New Orleans

Its old methods meets new world here in this premium American bourbon. After winning the Bronze in 2020 American Distilling Institute Awards, 7.3 Distilling Company have put New Orleans on the map in Bourbon distillation. Apricot and sun dried plums create a heavenly pudding combination. Wheat shakes hands with mint and chamomile notes, and a touch of steam engine from the Pontchartrain Railroad to create a classic style bourbon.

Stage 11: Évaux-les-Bains to Le Lioran (Mountain) – Volcanic Heights

Drink: Afon Mel Heather Mead Full Maturation in Penderyn Whisky Casks

Yes! Mead! This delectable wine is made using honey, yeast and water. It isn’t all chainmail and battle reenactment with this lovely drink. This Mead proudly boasts Great Taste and Golden Fork winning awards, and has spent it’s full maturation in a Penderyn ex-bourbon cask. Heather honey is front and centre of the notes, as all good meads should present. It’s drying with sweet notes of oak, and I would highly recommend!

Stage 12: Aurillac to Villeneuve-sur-Lot (Flat) – Countryside Calm

Whisky: Kilchoman Sanaig

By no means is this whisky flat. Big hitting charm of Islay hits hard here. Fat, smoky oily bouquet notes fuse with the end of an extractor fan of a bakery at the harbour. There’s a distinct perfume of sweet fruits like peaches and almonds and cinnamon segue to smoky salt and pepper chips.

Stage 13: Agen to Pau (Flat) – Southern Charm

Whisky: Lagavulin 16yo

Pairing with great blue cheeses like stilton or roquefort, The Lagavulin 16 year old is a solid triumph when accompanied with the Departement’s key exports. Soft prunes, stewed plums play merrily with peat and warm zestiness. It’s almost too soft to be a Lagavulin, and it’s instantly sweet on the tongue, slightly sooty, bitter grapefruit all accumulate into a wonderful dram.

Stage 14: Pau to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet (Mountain) – Pyrenean Peaks

Whisky: Arran Quarter Cask NAS

This whisky really speaks quite loud for a young NAS. It’s powerful, bright, like the peaks in the Pyrenees. Honeyed malt meets oak spice and citrus in this edition, which you can find for as little as £55 in the UK. The Red Bounty Bar plays with apricot and black pepper to slide into a lingering cherry and cinnamon finish.

Stage 15: Loudenvielle to Plateau de Beille (Mountain) – Mountain Majesty

Whisky: Glen Scotia 2013 Single Rum Cask #203043

The Rouleur of the lineup here: This Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch constantly delivers great spirit, and this is no exception. After 10 years in a First Fill Rum Barrel, this stunner has been bottled at a respectable 56.4% and it is everything you want from a Rum maturation. It’s dark chocolate and barbecued banana splits with ginger, intertwines with fresh lime and citrusy notes with sugared almonds and Christmas spice to finish.

Stage 16: Gruissan to Nîmes (Flat) – Mediterranean Delight

Whisky: Tomatin Cù Bocan Creation #6

Pedro Ximénes and Jamaican Rum casks smash together in this chaotic spirit, which serves serious Jamaican Ginger Cake vibes, spicy plum jam, a touch of the Italian Amaretto (weirdly) and garnish fruits. This wonderful warming dram serves sunshine and reggae in a glass, and at 46% is extremely sippable.

Stage 17: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Superdévoluy (Mountain) – Rugged Ascent

Whisky: Glann Ar Mor – French Single Malt

Glann Ar Mor (which literally means at the “edge of the sea” in Breton) is an unpeated seaside malt from the Celtic Whisky Company in France. With slow distillation, small stills and seaside maturation, comes this blessed French offering. It sits on the bench or sharp, tart berries and a little sweet too. It’s evidently a young whisky, but the atmosphere at the seaside encourages a quicker maturation than those maturing inland.

Stage 18: Gap to Barcelonnette (Hilly) – Scenic Serenity

Whisky: Loftsdalenlagret – Mackmyra Swedish Whisky

Only available in one shop in the UK – This delightful offering from Sweden is made up of 15 x 30L casks, giving more liquid to wood contact. A maturation and mix of smoked and unsmoked bourbon, sherry and gravity casks. The smokiness is delivered by burning juniper bushes and not peat, which gives a fruitier more elegant style of smoky flavour. Matured on the second highest point in Sweden, this dram represents the hilly scenery of the tour. Available at Inverurie Whisky Shop.

Stage 19: Embrun to Isola 2000 (Mountain) – Alpine Allure

Whisky: Bowmore 21 Keizo Saji’s Cask

In the spirit of Isola 2000, I tried to find a whisky that was all out premium but would be sold at less than £2000. Here we have the Bowmore 21yo, Keizo Saji’s Cask. Recently slashed from £2,699.99 to now just £1,999.99 – this special edition never actually met the market. The story is that in Summer 1990, Keizo Saji, the president of Suntory, visited Bowmore where he personally saw the filling of this cask. After Saji’s death, his son decided that the cask should be bottled and given to each member of the company.

Stage 20: Nice to Col de la Couillole (Mountain) – Coastal Heights

Whisky: Clynelish 1974 23yo – Rare Malts Selection

This stunning release provides intense fruit and herbs, with coconut milk on the nose. It’s malty, coconut sugar and ginger moves directly into barley sugars, like the sweeties that I used to enjoy as a lad from the gold tin. It moves from sweet and spicy barley sugars to fruity light finishes of watermelon and smoke. It isn’t as complicated as the nose, but a lovely dram all the same.

Stage 21: Monaco to Nice (Individual Time-Trial) – Glamorous Finish

Whisky: Johnson Reserve 2022

To finish in Monaco, I’ve selected this Johnson Family Reserve 8-cask marriage.

Johnson Family Reserve is a single malt that has been finished in 8 different casks, including Mizunara and Ex Islay casks.

What is most unusual is that Johnson Reserve don’t tell you which whiskies are used in the blend, you would certainly know that you’re drinking luxury.

Their philosophy has always been that casks are responsible for 85-95% of the flavour of a single malt, yet distillery and age occupy 99% of the conversation. They are shifting the focus away from provenance and age, and onto the factors that really affect how people actually experience their whisky.

What do you think? Have we overlooked any pairings? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

Davis Gonnella

Davis Gonnella, is a proud dad of 5, and lives with his partner in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He is on a mission to secure a DOC in whisky, create a position for minister for Whisky Tourism within the Scottish Government, and has a lifetime ambition of being made a keeper of the quaich.

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