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

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Bourbon Week – Day 3: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13yo (47.8%, OB, K0375, 70 cl)

Yeah, yeah, I know, this is not a Bourbon. But I did say I would throw in the odd Rye, didn’t I? And why wouldn’t I, since Rye is really America’s first whiskey. What is it precisely? This is a Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. Technically a Bourbon is very close to a Rye Whisky. Just a shift in grains in the mash bill. By law its required to be made of a mash of at least 51% rye. The other grains of the mash are usually corn and some malted barley. Rye whiskey is called Straight, when it has been aged for at least two years. Now this 13yo Rye. Well first of all, this isn’t 13yo. Its called 13yo because Julian van Winkle bought the Rye’s in this whisky at 13yo. He nevertheless let the Whiskey age until its 18th year and at that age it was put in stainless steel tanks, to stop its ageing. Where does this come from? Van Winkle isn’t a distillery so they got their whisky from somewhere else. A lot of their Bourbons come form the sadly deceased Stitzel-Weller distillery, but this Rye is supposedly from Medley (Owensboro Kentucky) ánd Cream of Kentucky (Frankfort), and has an unusual high corn content for a straight rye.

Color: Copper

Nose: Fresh. Dusty coconut. Spicy and wood. This could have been a single malt. It’s not the spice from the wood but the spice comes first. Very nice nose, almost luxury. It’s almost like this had some cherry fruityness to it, but that has almost gone. Later on some honey in the nose

Taste: Wow, this is wood in the good way, and glue in the good way. What a fabulous aged Rye! Sometimes a whiff of soap passes by. Rye can give it a very distinct ‘hardness’ to the finished product, but this is about 38% corn. This corn sweetness (Paul McCartney) tames the Rye a bit (John Lennon) and together they create a fabulous harmony, balance, with a perfect bite in the finish. And that’s not all, the finish also has some honeyed caramel. Honeyed caramel with a bite. What else do you want…

This is an unbelievable fine ‘blend’ of Rye’s. Period.

Points: 88