Continuing my tour of award-winning whiskies here is Whisky Advocate’s “World Whisky of the Year” for 2012 (okay, so my timing is a little off). No, not the best whisky in the world for 2012—the “world” for Whisky Advocate means “not American, Scottish, Irish, Canadian or Japanese”, and this was from a Dutch distillery named Zuidam, who are better known for all the other spirits they produce. As the category includes Kavalan and Amrut you’d expect anything winning here to be of high quality, but it’s also possible that after giving the award to Amrut in 2010 and 2011 Whisky Advocate decided to go all Jim Murray on people. Further evidence for this theory: after a nod to Kavalan in 2013, last year’s award went to some Austrian whisky called Broger Burnout; no, I haven’t had it, and for all I know it’s great stuff, but I am prepared to say anyway that there is a good chance that Whisky Advocate is trying a bit too hard. Anyway, the 93 point score the Milllstone 12, 1999 got from Dominic Roskrow on Whisky Advocate is some distance away from its current average of 82 points on Whiskybase. I’m sure people made as much fuss about this discrepancy back then as they do every year about Murray’s selections.
Millstone 12, 1999 (46%; sherry cask; from a purchased sample)
Nose: The first whiff is a pleasant one (oranges and raisins), but then it takes a weird, musky turn towards what I can only describe as sweaty armpit; this is then joined by something a little varnishy. The pleasant stuff’s all still there—just with all this other stuff beside it. Water knocks the sweaty note back and brings the fruit out more fully, and it’s a little bubblegummy with melon etc. (reminiscent of some Littlemills I’ve had).
Palate: Somewhat blank at first but that’s better than sweaty armpit. After a beat there’s the citrus and some biscuity notes to go with it. Nice texture. On the second sip there’s some tannic wood (but it works here as a counterpoint). With time the musky thing starts happening on the palate as well but thankfully here it’s fruity in nature (melon, a hint of peach). Water emphasizes the fruit further.
Finish: Long. The biscuity note gets maltier and picks up some butterscotch as it goes. The wood shows up here too and with time so does the citrus. With more time the muskier fruit hang out longer too. Water’s less good to the finish.
Comments: Some odd bits on the nose to start but time and water were good to it. The finish was the best part neat but got muted by water. It’s a decent whisky but hard to imagine it as the best anything. It has been three years since this was released, however: has the distillery’s product gotten better?
Rating: 84 points.