Here is my first and quite possibly last review of a whisky from a Dutch distillery. It was distilled at the small Zuidam distillery. The distillery started up in the mid-1970s. A family-run concern it operates on a very small scale, making gin, genever, rum and whisky in a pot-still. Whisky has been produced at the distillery since the mid-1990s. They currently put out a handful of single malt releases from 5-14 years of age from a number of different cask types, and a 100% rye whisky. The rye is said to be at least 8.5 years old but as per the source of this sample, Florin—stunt double for Lionel Richie in the “Dancing on the Ceiling” video—this particular release was an 11 yo, distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2015. It was matured entirely in new American oak casks, which continues to be the norm for the Millstone rye. Perhaps to stick with the “100” branding they also bottle this at 50% abv. I remember when this first came on the market in the middle of the decade. I was very tempted to buy a bottle but for one reason or the other never got around to it. Florin sent me the sample in 2016 and as is my wont I promptly forgot about it as well. But I recently dug it out and here, finally, are my notes. This is not an entirely irrelevant review, however: Millstone rye appears to now be available in the US.
Millstone 100, 2004-2015 (50%; Dutch single rye whisky; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Quite sweet with notes of hard orange candy and a mix of honey and light brown sugar. Some herbal (sage) and piney notes as well. As it sits there’s cold black tea. A little richer with water with some red fruit coming through as well.
Palate: Leads with spicy notes and some sharp oak—a bit too astringent for me, I’m afraid—and the sharpness is not served well by the texture, which is a bit thin. The bitterness is more pronounced on the second sip. Not much change with time; let’s see if water improves things. Um no. There’s a bit of fennel seed mixed in now but the bitter oak is now joined by a vegetal bitterness and pencil shavings.
Finish: Long. The sharp wood is the main note here. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Really liked the nose but this was a big letdown on the palate. I’ll be interested to hear how things are developing at Zuidam but I’m not very convinced by this release. I’ve no idea how it compares to the current release but based on this experience I would not spend the money being asked for it in the US (or anywhere else for that matter).
Rating: 76 points. (Pulled up by the nose.)
Thanks to Florin for the sample!