When I was born, my dad had a gold Puma car. From my earliest, tender childhood years I loved that car. My dad probably did too, because he kept it for a good five years after I was born. The problem was that the car only had two seats and I was only a child, I wasn’t allowed to sit in the front seat. This, of course, didn’t stop my dad from putting me on the hard ledge behind the passenger seat to take me for a spin around the block.
In the eighties, seat belts and common sense were optional. The laws of physics probably were too, because as I grew, it became more and more difficult to fit into that fascinating but uncomfortable space. When I was five my spinal cord fitted round the harrowing curve of the back windscreen and the muffled bumps of my head on the roof of the car kept time with the terribly uneven road surface.
To tell the truth, it wasn’t only the back seat that was missing in the Puma. It was a Spartan car, though very well made. When my dad finally traded it for a Monza, in which I could comfortably stretch out on the backseat – I was genuinely disappointed. The Puma wasn’t just a car, it was our pride and joy. The most successful Brazilian sportscar, although not the first – a promise from our national car industry that, despite some commendable efforts like the Lobini and Vorax, was never fulfilled.
Perhaps a similar promise has just been made in the whisky world. The Backer Brewery from Minas Gerais state has launched a single malt. Three Lobos (Three Wolves) Whiskey Single Malt, which is also known as Experience. Despite being written with an “e”, the whisky is produced according to Scottish tradition, with malted barley – the same used in some Backer beers – and in copper stills. Moreover, these stills, have been especially made for the distillery and closely resemble their Scottish counterparts.
The Backer Brewery was founded in 1999 by the Lebbos brothers, near Serra do Curral, in Minas Gerais state. The brewery currently has its own bar, called Templo Cervejeiro – in Belo Horizonte with an extensive portfolio of beers. Among them is Bravo American Imperial Porter, aged in Amburana barrels and one of this dog’s favourites. The brand has also launched, along with its whisky, a gin, which has a typical beer ingredient – hops.
“It’s pretty daring for Backer to choose this moment to try a sector we don’t know very well yet and I’m sure it’s going to work out well. We’re not just making spirits. We are producing distillates that contain ingredients used in breweries. That is the main point. Our single malt has its own characteristics because it is distilled in copper stills and made from brewer’s yeast,” explains Paula Lebbos, Director of Backer.
Aging of the Three Lobos Single Malt took place in ex-Jim Beam american oak barrels for over five years. For the first batch, just over five thousand bottles were produced and put on sale on the Backer website for R$180.00 (one hundred and eighty Brazilian reais). If you visit the distillery – which is in Templo Cervejeiro – you can also try the new-make-spirit, which gave rise to the whisky.
For this dog, the Three Lobos Single Malt resembles a young single malt from Speyside or the Highlands. The aroma is fruity and sweetened with vanilla. The flavour is reminiscent of fruit compote, with caramel, cinnamon and a spicy grain finish. The alcohol is relatively well integrated for a whisky of its age, although it is pronounced, especially in the aroma.
It’s easy to see the dedication of everyone involved in the production of Three Lobos Single Malt Whiskey. From the packaging to the attractive visual identity of the bottle. Sensorially, it’s a young, balanced whisky. Above all, however, it is an extraordinary start for a distillery in a country with virtually no tradition in whisky production. It’s just like our dear Puma – a promise.
A promise that in this dog’s opinion is almost fulfilled.
BACKER TRES LOBOS SINGLE MALT
Type: Single Malt
Aroma: fruity, with vanilla and caramel. Almost like a bourbon. A little alcoholic.
Flavour: Fruity start, with pear and fruit compote. A little cinnamon. Sweet finish with vanilla. Relatively well-integrated alcohol.
Price: R$ 180,00 (one hundred and eighty reais) from the Official Backer Shop.
*details of the tasting of this whisky were provided by a source involved in its production. The Dog did however, have complete editorial licence over the content of this post.