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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Single Malt Report: Millstone 8 year old French Oak, Dutch Single Malt

I loves me some Netherlands.  So that's where we're going for this stop on the World Whisky Tour.

Zuidam Distillers, a leading Dutch liquor producer, currently has gin, 5 kinds of genever, coffee liqueur, chocolate liqueur, cinnamon liqueur, vanilla liqueur, amaretto, rye, and.......single malt whisky in the EU/UK marketplace.

Distillery: Zuidam Distillers
Brand: Millstone
Region: The Netherlands (Baarle-Nassau)
Type: Single Malt
Maturation: 6 years in ex-Jack Daniels barrels, then 2 years in new French Oak
Age: minimum 8 years
Alcohol by Volume: 40%

Let's go backwards with this whisky.

Zuidam ages their whiskies in a warm warehouse, which actually doubles the maturation / aging / alcohol-loss rate.  Sort of like India (of all places), but a little less extreme.  That's why they've done 5yr and 8yr releases, as opposed to 10 - 16 years.

This whisky matures for six years in former Jack Daniels barrels then another two years in new French Oak casks.  Rarely will a producer reveal whose former barrels they're using, so that's a fun maturation fact to know.  The good news is that there's not a hint of Jack in this whisky.

According to the distiller's site they ferment small batches of distillate at low temperatures for a long period of time inside large wide pot stills.  This gives the pre-maturation spirit (new make) soft and fruity characteristics.

But before they can ferment anything, they need some barley grist.  And how do they mill the barley?  Via windmills!

I was somewhere around Baarle-Nassau on the edge of the tulip fields when the whisky began to take hold.
On to the Dutch whisky!  Millstone 8 year old French Oak:

Color - Solid Gold
Nose - Very fragrant and floral at first nosing.  Sweet oak.  Very similar to Glenlivet's French Oak.  Sugary pencils.
Palate - Candy!  Brown sugar.  Vanilla.  Maraschino cherries.  Fresh orange juice, maybe?  Mild and desserty.
Finish - Medium length.  Tiramisu and vanilla.

WITH WATER (about 32% ABV)
Nose - Wood.  Raisins.  More oak character.  Sulphur (which is weird because there were no sherry casks).
Palate - The water makes it much fruitier.  Sweet fruit juices.  Almost sherryish (which is weird because they were no sherry casks).
Finish - Still decent.  Sweet.  Gets a touch bitter and sour at the close.

Maybe it's because my expectations were set low for this one due to a couple of not-positive reviews or maybe it's because I had it for dessert at the end of a difficult day, but I liked this one a bit.  It would even stand up well against The Glenlivet 15yr French Oak.  It's uncomplicated, but it works as a dessert malt.  Probably a little better without water.

This will be first time I'll say it (and definitely not the last), but it probably wouldn't hurt if the whisky was released at a higher ABV (43% or 46%) to give it more oomph and strength.  But as it stands, it's a good starter whisky.

BUT it's not priced competitively.  Perhaps it's done so with the thought that Dutch Whisky will considered a luxury by some?  I don't know.  Maybe the windmills are expensive to run?  Is wind expensive?  I can imagine the whisky's price hindering product expansion.

Aside from that, I wish good things for Zuidam because they clearly know how to make a whisky.

Availability - Unavailable in the US, Available in the UK
Pricing - Unfavorable at $105-$120 (minus VAT plus shipping)
Rating - 80

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