Dutch Jenever Week – Day 2: Zuidam Rogge Genever (35%, The Netherlands)

Jenever Week Logo

Day two and we’ll continue with another Jenever from the “Specials” category. This particular example from Zuidam was distilled three times in copper stills, using only Rye as a flavour grain, which makes it a speciality in the Jenever world. Only half of the Rye was malted. The distillate was aged for 5 years (!) in new American oak barrels. Rye itself is already quite a spicy grain, but nevertheless juniper berry, licorice root and aniseed were added. Here the spices weren’t distilled with the Rye, but only added prior to bottling. So again a special kind of Jenever, but I may have said that already…

Zuidam Rogge GeneverColor: Straw.

Nose: Dull, very grainy and recognizable as rye spirit. Fresh new make spirit. Grain and grassy. Very much from the cereal corner of the ring. Sour bread and cookie dough. Extremely vegetal, lacking freshness and fruitiness. When nosed more vigorously, the hidden wood is noticeable. Give it some time and the wood becomes more creamy and spicy even. Vanilla and toffee. It does need to breathe for a while to compose itself. It becomes friendlier and softer that way. Butter and butter getting warm on the frying pan. (at the start of the process, before it starts to become brown). Spicy and grassy throughout. Hints of cinnamon and some anise. Nice fatty rye aroma’s. Soft. Sometimes I get whiffs of licorice and summer flowers in a field. The tiny hint of florality goes rather well with rye based spirits. This time it is elegant and delicate as opposed to the heavy and raw spirits that can be made with rye as well. Achieves great balance if you manage to be patient with it.

Taste: Sweetish and behind the sugar-water and the creamy, chewy vanilla, it is quite vibrant simple and likeable. Second sip: surprisingly sweet and soft, hardly warming though. Well, 35% ABV isn’t much where I’m coming from. It doesn’t have the taste of new make spirit. Its more sweet and creamy. Not very complex though, surprisingly simple actually. Fatty vanilla ice-cream in a bottle. The nose gives us some tension from wood and some spiciness, in the taste all that is absent.The first time I tried this I tasted it blind and from that occasion I remember I never would have guessed the rye distillate has aged for 5 years, before the spices were added.

Although this isn’t a Gin, I would most definitely experiment using this in a Gin & Tonic. First try would be with Fentiman’s. I guess, It somehow wants to be a summer drink. Excellent stuff and definitely worth your time as a sipper as well. Very accessible and friendly. Dare I just say that I find it a bit too sweet and simple? Especially since this has aged (without the spices) for five years. Lacks a bit of complexity. It comes across as everybody’s friend. If you can respect that, and don’t want it to be a 5yo Zeer Oude Genever or a 5yo Korenwijn even, than you are in for a treat. Zuidam plans to release true aged versions of Rogge Genever in the near future, meaning the spices are distilled with the spirit. I welcome that. This kind of Jenever can do with some more influence from the cask (first fill, second fill), maybe even from European oak that once held Sherry!

Points: 76

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Punch Royal Selection No.12

Punch LogoPunch is next. Punch is Cuban Cigar brand, but as with many Cuban brands, also exists outside of Cuba. You know all about families fleeing the country and selling the rights abroad, and the Cuban government seizing the Fabricas and continuing production. The “other” Punch is made in Honduras.

Punch was founded by German born Mr. Stockmann and named it after a character from a puppet show. Don’t you just love the names for Cuban Cigars? The third owner of the brand was Manuel López Fernández, and it is his name that still is mentioned on the boxes. The Cigar I’m about to review is from before 2005, a time this Cigar was released without a band. Since 2005 is does have a band, like in the picture below. In 2010 the Cigar was discontinued. There is a finite amount of excellent tobacco, and other sizes, with larger ring gauges, are more popular these days, so they use the tobacco for that. Today it has to be at least ø50, so no use making and (not) selling something that is a mere ø42…

Punch Royal Selection No.12

Punch Royal Selection No.12 (42 x 129mm, Marevas, Petit Corona, Box code unknown)

Color & Looks: Colorado with small veins. It has some small black spots and some green discoloration. Nothing major. Straight build and feels somewhat flexible. Cuts nicely.

A cru: Nice leather and wood. A deep smell with all kinds of dry leaves. After the cut, quite fresh and mild smelling.

Taste: Starts good, good draw and smoke. Unique spiciness combined with wonderful woody aroma’s with some distinct woody bitterness. Works well with mild coffee. Although overall very mild and soothing, there is a slight chemical edge to it, that stays behind in the back of my throat. After just a few cm’s it seems to be a bit stronger than the mild start. It’s still not a Bolívar, so no worries. The wrapper produces light gray ashes, the filler turns into a darker shade of gray, but also some white and pitch-black ash can be found deep in the heart of the Cigar. A bit of a mess actually. The ash is not firm since it falls off quite easily.

A big part of the taste does remind me of dry Dutch Cigars’ Sumatra tobacco. This definitely is a cigar that has been lying around for a long time. As I said above, this one works well with coffee, but it doesn’t like water as an accompaniment, turning it acidic. Going along, the creamy bit increases. This one doesn’t seem to be tightly rolled, but nevertheless stays firm all the way, even when warming up. Incredible amount of smoke. It may not be a very strong smoke, but the taste is a bit harsh and not completely inviting. I’m doing my best to smoke this slowly, not to let it get too hot. Not a lot of development and most definitely not my favorite Cigar. For me not something I would smoke by itself, it needs some kind of accompaniment. The was quite a bit left when the Cigar turned, so not something you smoke untill you burn your fingers or your lips. Dry and woody throughout and definitely after dinner.

Marevas is a great size, maybe a bit thin for todays taste, but it still is a Cigar, you still are holding something in your hand, without it being tiny like a cigarette. It is most definitely thinner than a Robusto. This would seem a good one when you don’t have a lot of time on your hand. Not so. An older Royal Selection No.12 tends to be woody and harsh. It has to be smoked slowly, because when this gets hot, it is overly woody and even gets bitter. More recent examples, lets say from 2008 and later, are more creamy and definitely milder.

Points: 76

The Glenlivet 12yo (40%, OB, 2012)

About a year ago I already reviewed The Glenlivet 12yo, but that one was bottled around 2005. Now I stumbled upon an example of the same stuff, this time bottled in 2012. We all know the big boys want consistency, so now we have a chance to find out. For those of you who don’t know already. Due to the enormous rise in popularity of Single Malt Whiskies, a distillery can’t afford anymore, to wait 12 years to make an entry-level Malt. This 12yo will be replaced in most markets, apart from Asia and the USA, where I’m informed, the consumers like “numbers” more than the consumers in other markets. The replacement is The Glenlivet “Founders Reserve”. Yes, a Whisky described by only letters, no numbers anymore for us Europeans.

The Glenlivet 12yo (40%, OB, 2012)Color: Gold.

Nose: Malty with sweet fruit and quite some wax. Nice aroma. One thing if for sure. The aroma of the 12yo never holds back, its vibrant and wants you to drink it. Definitely not a closed spirit. Vanilla and oak, parts of it even new oak, since the wood smell is a little bit sharper. Sweet and candied. Fruity. No pineapple this time, but I do get some apricots. Powdered coffee creamer (the initial smell of it, not the fatty part). At least this nose lives up to its earlier brothers (or sisters if you like).

Taste: Strange enough, this starts with wood, partially bitter and partially burnt. Then a quick passing by of some (sugared) fruit and some soapy (ear) wax, which is quickly overtaken by paper. Diluted red fruits and the bitterness never moves an inch. Not as sweet as the older versions. Quite a difference from the 2005, 12yo, I mentioned above. Not a long finish and the aftertaste isn’t all that pleasant as well.

When reviewing the 2005 version and comparing that to the new “Founders Reserve” I was quite shocked by the difference in taste. The “Founders Reserve” tastes as a very young and immature Whisky, almost as if it wasn’t ready, but the marketing department wanted it out anyway. Now that I have tasted this 12yo from 2012, and do remind yourself how much the Whisky world has changed between 2005 and 2012, the difference in quality isn’t all that great, although the taste is quite different. My advise would be, get yourself an old 12yo, but do not pay too much for it, and be surprised how nice it was.

Points: 76

Strathisla 12yo (40%, OB, 2013)

Old Strathisla 12yoStrathisla is famous for producing one of the best Sherried Single Malt Whiskies ever. Just have a go with some nice examples from an independent bottler with distillates from the sixties and seventies. Gordon & MacPhail have a huge range of Strathisla’s from those days that have long gone by, but also a lot of other independent bottlers have similar Sherried bottlings. Those Strathisla’s can easily compete with the best Longmorns and Macallans from the same era. Nevertheless, the owners of Strathisla themselves have never done a lot with the brand. In fact, only a 12yo has been readily available and the occasional 25yo. When visiting the distillery and additional 16yo can be bought, but that it! For a long time Strathisla was bottled in a flat dark brown, screen printed bottle, but since 2013, a new dumpy bottle was released. Now we would like to know if the Whisky has changed as well, since the ABV has been lowered to 40%. We also would like to know if the range will finally be expanded. Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) are the current owners of Strathisla and they could do lots more with Strathisla like they are doing with two of their other brands like The Glenlivet and Aberlour.

Strathisla 12yo (40%, OB, 2013)Color: Light orange gold

Nose: leafy, malty and dirty. Putty and highly aromatic. Hints of orange skin and vanilla. Creamy Whisky. Fresh cut grass and damp potting soil. Tiny hints of wood and tar and bitter-sweet chocolate. Smells of caramel coloring. Very funky altogether if you ask me.

Taste: Not really thin, but tastes watered down. Still warming though. Licorice. Sugar water sweetness and a distant hint of Sherry, killed by water and (burnt) sugar (coloring). Tree sap and bitter wood. Toasted wood. Hidden toffee-like sweetness. Again lots of notes I can only imagine coming from caramel coloring. A short warming boost in my throat, then a finish with not much staying power.

In essence this is the only official Strathisla on the market. It replaces another Strathisla 12yo, that was around for a long time. It is brought down to 40% ABV, and is still the only version released by the owners. Why not let it stand out more? Why water it down even more, and kill it with E150? Strathisla can be such a great brand, and there is so much you can do with it, so why even bother releasing this 12yo, which is pretty anonymous at best? Fire some managers for incompetence and take a look around and see what is already achieved by Bacardi with Craigellachie, Aultmore and Aberfeldy, with even two more in the pipelines. If that’s no inspiration, what about the achievements of Gordon & MacPhail with Benromach? Just do it people!

Points: 76 (I liked the screen printed bottle better)

Glen Moray 15yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogsheads, 684 bottles)

This is the third Glen Moray on these pages. Although I use a 100 points scare for scoring drinks, and in my opinion Whisky is one of the best drinks around. Whisky usually scores in the upper ranges of that scale. So any good Whisky scores at least 80 points. Both Glen Moray’s I reviewed before, one 13yo Dun Bheagan, and one official 8yo, didn’t make it across the 80 points-line and are therefore considered bu connoisseurs to be “mediocre” at best. However, if you read my reviews carefully, they still have enough going for them, and are still pretty good drinks, or pretty good Whiskies for that matter. It’s just that a lot of Whiskies score higher than these Glen Moray’s. But here is another Glen Moray, one by Cadenhead, so lets see if this will score in the 80’s or even higher?

Glen Moray 15yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogsheads, 684 bottles)Color: White wine.

Nose: Quite closed, or isn’t there much happening. Alcohol, hints of sweet yellow fruits. Even though it isn’t a white wine finish were Glen Moray are almost famous for, it does remind me of a white wine finished Glen Moray. Hints of margarine and vanilla. Soft touch of oak. Very restrained, it just smells like fresh air.

Taste: Yes typical thin Glen Moray again. A crumb of old dark chocolate. A little bit of oak, and an acidity resembling a wine finish. Usually Glen Moray tends to get overly sweet after a wine finish, and I can’t say that’s the case here. Lots of maltiness and a little bit of paper and bitter oak in the finish. Good, it gives it character. Anything better than that strange acidity.

Extremely light color, again casks (probably two) that weren’t very active any more. I am not completely sure this isn’t a white wine finish. A very clean expression, and that’s me being positive, because not a lot seems to be happening here… (Mind you, this is still a damn good drink!)

Points: 76

Casa La Teja D.O. La Mancha Airén – Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Here we have a white wine by Bodegas Yuntero, Jesús del Perdón from the la Mancha district in Spain. A district that gets lots of sun. The wine is blended from Airén 85% and Sauvignon Blanc 15%. The owners focus on 100% sustainable viticulture. The wine is also made from certified organically grown grapes with an SHC certificate.

Casa La Teja D.O. La Mancha Airén – Sauvignon Blanc 2009Color: Pale straw yellow

Nose: Very fruity and fresh. Hints of banana and peach. Excellent aromatic fruitiness in the nose. Through the nose it promises a nice balance between the sweet and the sour. Although no of the used grapes are common to Alsace, you could have been mistaken trying this blind. Great balance, and a very appealing nose (to me).

Taste: Very soft, velvety and simple and straightforward. Slightest hint of bitterness (grapefruit). Lower in its acidity than I initially expected. A round overall taste without much acidity and also little sweetness without it becoming bone-dry. I expected a little bit more in the taste department. Even the alcohol seems lower than stated. Very light indeed.

Probably meant to be drunk young, but I have to say that a little ageing didn’t do the wine any harm whatsoever. Definitely an aperitif wine with a lovely nose, in the taste too light in my opinion, and if the wine makers would have been able to match the taste to the nose this would be a winner. As said, an aperitif wine which can be combined with light foods as salads and light seafood. Mussels come to mind. I liked the red better.

Points: 76

Glen Moray 13yo 1996/2009 (43%, Ian MacLeod, Dun Bheagan, Sauternes Barrel Finish, Cask #91981/91984, 1419 bottles)

Second Dun Bhaegan on these pages, after the Brora 1981. But the first Glen Moray. For a while Glen Moray was owned by the people behind Glenmorangie, you know the distillery with the long-necked stills and the 16 men of Tain? In that period Glenmorangie saw the shortage is good casks and started to experiment a lot with wine-finishes. The ones they did not dare to use, they bestowed onto Glen Moray. So there are quite a lot of official Wine finishes by Glen Moray themselves. Now Ian MacLeod decided to add their wine finish of their own, or maybe bought it straight from the distillery.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Malty and sweet. Vanilla and quite spirity. A slightly winy smell comes in, along with some glue, cardboard and sawdust. Toffee adds to the vanilla. Gypsum. I cannot say this is very balanced. The longer you keep this the more is smells of a combination of solvents. Wait, now some plants come into the mix, just hard to say which ones. Given even some more time, the nose keeps developing. I like that in a malt, just the things you smell aren’t so special in this one. Clean wood and lavas now, and an overpowering kind of toffee.

Taste: Wood, paper, cardboard, but mostly wood. Spicy wood with some detached sweetness. (so not very balanced again). Quite hard and a bit bitter. Urine? After this straight into a finish of almost stale beer, cream and wood again. Sour.

Very simple, not a lot going on, and what is going on is not great for a whisky. It would have a lot of character if it were a Wodka. Still this very nice Wodka scores into the seventies. In a few words: Bitter-sweet wood toffee.

Points: 76