Millstone 12yo “Sherry Cask” (46%, OB)

Non Scottish Single Malts a.k.a. world Whiskies are taking over the…uhhh…world. Sure, Scottish Single Malts are still in high demand, especially in countries that are fairly new to them. They are embracing them with much love, as long as the local government permits them to. However, there isn’t enough well aged Whisky to go around the world. Thus, opportunity knocks for the rest of the world to step up their game. Add to that the growing interest of local products and you know where this is heading. Some countries already had a prosperous Single Malt culture, but were ahead of their time, and almost didn’t manage to stay afloat for the current boom. Just look at the history of Irish and New Zealand Whisky to name but a few.Luckily most of them have survived and see a bright future ahead. Then there is a second group. Whisky from countries that didn’t have a blooming local Whisky culture, like Sweden and The Netherlands, again to name but a few, because there are many, many others. I already reviewed a Rye Whiskey from Millstone (Zuidam) from the Netherlands and this time we’ll have a look at a proper Single Malt Whisky. I still have an old expression with the cream label. As far as I know there were two small batches of this, one made up from only two casks, and one made up with three. I only don’t know which of the two I have here…

Millstone Sherry Cask 12yoColor: Orange brown.

Nose: Sherried, definitely Oloroso, but quite dry and elegant as well. Spicy with nice wood, but also some honey sweetness. Wonderful fresh (and slightly soapy) fruity acidity. Good spirit in good casks. I also get some licorice, quite surprising for a Dutch malt. Creamy vanilla, maybe from American oak. Towards the end some nice red fruit notes appear as well as some lavas. Nice development.

Taste: Very creamy but less integrated than the nose suggested. Some light raisins and warming. Almonds and a bigger nutty aroma altogether. The Sherry cask bestows even a winey note to the Whisky. On entry, the cream has a sweet edge to it, although the wood and the Sherry quickly overpower it with a nice and spicy dryness, never to let the sweetness take over again. I’m guessing Oloroso again, but probably a high quality one. A two-faced Malt. Towards the finish a medium kind of bitterness emerges, but in a soft way. It like chewing on a pencil. The finish itself is of medium length. In the aftertaste a slight burnt note, with even a hint of tar.

A Whisky which is great already and still shows lots of potential and is definitely something The Netherlands should be proud of. Kudo’s for Patrick and the Van Zuidam family.

Points: 84

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Millstone 8yo “100 Rye” (50%, OB)

Millstone 100 is a small batch Dutch pot still distilled Rye Whisky (without an extra “e”). This is a review about one of the earlier bottlings, because by now the look is different. The glass bottle is the same, but the label is now black, more in line with the rest of the Millstone Whiskies, although across the line some different shapes of bottles are used. The new black label informs us of the many different guises of the number “100”. The whisky is a minimum of a 100 months old and is bottled at 50% ABV. (The American 100 proof), and the Whisky is made from 100% Rye and only filled into new American oak only (100% again). The use of the American proofing system and the use of American new oak casks makes it obvious what kind of style of Whisky to expect. 100 Rye is made from 49% malted Rye and 51% unmalted Rye.

Zuidam Distillers was founded in 1975 by Fred van Zuidam under the name Baarle International. Earlier, Fred worked some twenty odd years at De Kuijper in Schiedam after which it was time to start for himself. He bought a piece of land in Baarle Nassau and built his distillery there, starting with a range of high quality liqueurs, basing his recipes on the best ingredients he could buy. Next step was the distillation of the traditional Dutch drink: Jenever, the spirit Gin was derived of, both sharing juniper berries as an ingredient. 

Today the distilling is done by Patrick van Zuidam, the son of Fred. Gilbert, the other son is handling the business end of the distillery. Patrick had a passion for Jenever and Korenwijn and from that started experimenting with his dream drink: Whisky, resulting in the Millstone line of Whiskies. By now a lot of Millstone expressions have seen the light of day, of which this 100 Rye is a very succesful one.

Millstone 100 Rye 8yoColor: Copper orange brown.

Nose: Sweetish and thick in its aroma, straying away from the American Rye’s which for ma always have a sort of florality in the nose. This one is very clean and closer to a fruity nose. Initially maybe even sweet, with a lot of wood influence. Pencil shavings. The wood is easy and in no way overpowering. Small hint of soap. Well integrated aroma’s, but not very complex. The thick aroma from the starts dissipates a bit and dries out the whole, but memories of it come in and out. If smelled for a prolonged time, it reminds me a bit of Rum, or Rhum Acricole. Dry Rum obviously, including hints of red fruits and a fresh citrussy note. Lime and some delayed mint. Deep and fruity altogether.

Taste: Starts with wood and some sugary sweetness. Quite hot on entry with a nice bite. Here a little soapy florality is present. Rye it is then! Nice dusty wood. Sawdust and nuts. For those of you that also have tasted Patrick’s Jenevers and Korenwijn, there is some of that in here too, unmistakable. For me this Whisky has a special effect as well. After the big body, the finish seems a bit weak at first, but after that a bigger aftertaste emerges. And a very tasty aftertaste it is, with some sweet orange, nice. Over time the finish grows bigger too. This Whisky need some time to breathe to grow a bigger finish, but I have to say that more air also hurts the balance a bit, since the dryness and the wood really take over and the florality stays soapy.

Ain’t this something. It has hints of Jenever and Korenwijn, smells a bit like a Rum, but is a Rye Whisky with quite some evolution over time. Well done, I have to try a newer bottling to see if Patrick has dealt with the soapy florality, then again, maybe it’s just me.

Points: 81