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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Millstone 10 year old 2000 American Oak, Dutch Single Malt

Located just north of The Netherlands-Belgium border, Zuidam Distillers produces genever, gin, rum and liqueurs, in addition to its Millstone whisky brand. I've enjoyed their 8yo French oak single malt, and there's a bottle of 100 Rye on my shelf.

Their 10 year old single malts appear to be produced in pretty small batches, as I've yet to see a bottle number over 500. A number of their 10s, such as today's whisky, are older than 10 years; a curious and rare action taken in the current whisky market. The "American Oak" single malts use virgin oak, and the website says these are the "most robust" of their whiskies. I hope that doesn't mean it's an oak bomb. The Americans are the only ones who can seem to get that type right, though even they rarely do.

Distillery: Zuidam Distillers
Brand: Millstone
Region: The Netherlands (Baarle-Nassau)
Type: Single Malt
Age: 13 (not 10!) years - Feb 2000 to Nov 2013
Maturation: new American oak barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

Oak on the nose, but it seems more toasted than charred, reading as wood spice. Ceylon cinnamon, cardamom, pine sap and pine needles. There's also orange pixy stix and vanilla cake. It all fades out after 20ish minutes. The palate is different than then nose. Lemon cake, orange zest and peach candy. Grand Marnier and lime popsicles. Vanilla and vanilla fudge. Hints of malt and dried oregano. If someone infused an orange creamsicle with cayenne pepper, that would be the finish's main note. It's lightly tart. A little malt, vanilla fudge and pixy stix.

The first thing one notices when trying a European single malt is that it is not scotch. Most Asian distilleries do a good approximation of Scotch single malt, if not actually better than most current Scottish distilleries. But whiskies from the Dutch, Danish, Germans, French, Swedish, Swiss, etc., are not trying to imitate Speyside or Islay. Maybe it has to do with terroir, or maybe it's distillers doing their own thing. Either way, I enjoy the change of pace.

This Millstone single malt isn't as sticky sweet as the tasting notes read. There are numerous fruit essences in different forms spinning around each other. The whisky could benefit from less vanilla, but otherwise the oak isn't abusive. While a scotch drinker wouldn't consider it "robust", the whisky has a decent richness to it, considering the low-ish ABV. I liked it overall, though not enough to buy a bottle. If Zuidam decides to use refill barrels for future 10s, then I'll give 'em another try.

Availability - A few dozen European retailers
Pricing - $55-$75 (ex VAT, before shipping)
Rating - 82