...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Single Malt Report: Goldlys 1991 Bourbon Wood Belgian Single Malt

After Australia and South Africa, our whisky trip brings us to Europe and...


Woo hoo, Belgium!!!

When I'm buying samples for these reports, I usually do what I can to pick up whiskies that are obtainable for the folks who read these posts.  But sometimes, I'm just a big arsehole and I buy weird hard-to-find samples to soothe my nerdy inclinations.

The Belgian Owl Distillery is the largest and best known of the whiskymakers in België.  Their malts can be found in a number of European countries and even in the US if you know where to look.  But today's whisky is not from Belgian Owl.

It's from the folks at Filliers who, in addition to producing a wide range of jenevers, also make Goldlys single malt whisky.  The 'Goldlys' name comes from the nearby River Lys which can take on a golden hue from the flax rotting in the water.  Though Filliers's website says "Barrels of Goldlys Whisky have been ageing in our warehouses in Bachte-Maria-Leerne for hundreds of years", it also notes that in 2007 Goldlys "wrote history when it launched the first whisky in Belgian bars".  So, I guess they had kept those ancient whiskies to themselves for centuries?

Normally, I do not like posting a report when all I have is the official website from which to glean whisky facts.  Normally, I go through my library of whisky books and then some reliable online sources.  But this ain't Normally.  There isn't a word about the Filliers Distillery among my sources.  If anyone has additional reliable info about Filliers and Goldlys please let me know and I'll update this report!

Here's what I have seen online:  Filliers used to have a 3 year old Goldlys Double Still malt which has been given some brutal online reviews (Jim Murray liked it though, natch).  That whisky appears to have been replaced by an Owner's Reserve.  There are also currently four limited edition malts with wine barrel finishes.  They've released a number of other limited editions over the past four years.  One of those editions is the first release of a 1991 20 year old malt that was aged in former bourbon barrels.

Sorry for the crummy pictures today. :(
Distillery: Filliers Distillery
Brand: Goldlys
Type: Single Malt
RegionFlanders, Belgium
Age: 20 years old (1991-2011)
Maturation: ex-bourbon American oak barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Limited release: 1100 bottles
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

I really had no idea what to expect of this whisky.  And that was kind of thrilling.  I was anticipating something unspeakably terrible.  I was wrong.

Sampled neatly from a 30mL whiskysamples bottle:
Color - Light gold
Nose - Must have been refill oak because, though the spirit has been softened, the whisky isn't oaky.  It walks the fine line between pleasant and muted at first.  Vanilla toffee, a little peach (maybe), biscotti, and some malt in the background.  With time peach schnapps, caramel, and hay sneak out.
Palate - Gentle black cherry varnish at first, softly textured.  Then fresh stone fruits, a little spice (cinnamon and pepper), hazelnuts, and sweet apples arrive.
Finish - Stewed cherries, flower blossoms, peach candy, and peach crumble with some caramelized brown sugar.

Goldlys 1991 Bourbon Wood is the opposite of The Corryvreckan.

It has taken me years to appreciate subtler, gentler whiskies.  I love to be socked in the face with outrageous tones, but this Goldlys is as soft and breakable as tissue paper.  They probably had to release it at 46% since it would evaporate into vapor at 43%.  It's likely a little rougher while younger, so maybe their four fancy finishes work at 12 years of age.  But at 20 years, this (likely) refill American oak prevents the delicate nature of the malt from being wrecked by sweet wine.  Their site recommends it for warm spring or summer days and I'll second that.  I'm not sure if it would taste like anything on ice (their recommendation), but served neatly it's a wispy little Lowland malt cloud.

I saw it had once been selling for $45 on one international site.  If you can find it via a Belgian seller, it'll likely be going for $60-$70 before shipping.  In the meantime, whiskysamples.eu still has samples left at a very reasonable price.

Availability - Happy Hunting!
Pricing - probably in the $60-$70 range (before shipping)
Rating - 81