Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

Millstone: Dutch single malt with outspoken character

Master Distiller Patrick van Zuidam of the Dutch Zuidam Distillery hosted me for an extensive interview, all the way back in 2008. I visited him at the distillery and we spoke about his vision on whisky and the industry. The first Zuidam whisky had just started hitting shelves under the name Millstone, and it was turning heads immediately. Nowadays, Millstone is perceived as one of the Grand Cru whisky’s outside Scotland. Justifiably so, as the tasting notes on this ‘Something Special Saturday’ will underline.

Reading again my interview with Patrick in Dutch whisky magazine De Kiln, I noticed some remarks that actually did not come to fruition. Like Patrick’s intention to follow the example of Springbank and release different styles of whisky under different names (as Springbank does with Longrow and Hazelburn). Maybe this intention became less relevant with a more and more educated audience. Putting a Millstone out that is not a single malt but a Rye whisky, is still a bit tricky if you ask me, on the other hand, reading a label is not the biggest challenge. I guess Millstone has become the label for “whisky products in all their variety” from the Zuidam Distillery. Works fine by me. We are going to taste 3 single malts today, one younger and two from 1996.

Millstone 2017, 6 years old, bottled at 53,6 % abv

Makeup: A single cask bottling of a whisky distilled on 11 May 2017 and filled on14 November 2023. Cask # 17B065 was a First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt and produced 637 bottles in the Dutch Tulip Collection done for Kirsch Import (German market). This is edition 2 and heavily peated.

General impressions: Very masculine with a nose that starts on motor oil and car workshop. These are things I usually pick up in Campbeltown malts, but here it is more pronounced. Also, the scent of flowers that you bought last weekend, but it’s almost weekend again and they are withering. This might all sound terrible, but it is actually very cool to find it in your glass. Oh, and Toto? We are not in Scotland anymore. After some breathing time notes of caramel and chocolate arise.

The mouthfeel is soft and sweet before the peat works its way in. Like sucking on an elastic band that your mail delivery person uses to collect the letters, but the elastic was marinated in honey. This is an extremist whisky. The oloroso works very well with the peated spirit. Water makes for a sweeter experience on the tongue, and tames the finish a bit, which makes you appreciate the peated character much more. The scent of vase water never disappears and amuses me.

Conclusion: I don’t know if “elegance” is still the goal for Zuidam’s (whisky) products, as Patrick van Zuidam stated in the 2008 interview, but it is under fire with this expression. Indeed, a very German whisky, as we say in the Netherlands. On Whiskybase I see shops selling this for under 50 euro, which is crazy cheap for such an outspoken, entertaining whisky.

86 points.


Millstone 1996 American Oak, 20 years old, bottled at 52,3 % abv

Makeup: A bottling by Millstone that was distilled on 25 October 1996 and filled into bottle on 29 August 2017, just a few moments after the previous sample was distilled actually. Exactly 301 bottles came from an American Oak Hogshead. The bottling was named Special No. 12.

General impressions: We took a long break after the peated Dutch Tulips. This one hits you with a much more light and fruity character. Mango, coconut, all very tropical. Sticking the nose a little deeper, I pick up wood notes, confirming this is a mature whisky.

Remembering my talk with Patrick van Zuidam, we touched upon the speed of maturation compared to Scotland. Because of the climate in The Netherlands, one could easier compare with the USA and bourbon, with some more heat and evaporation.

After 20 years this whisky is only down to 52,3 %, but taste-wise I only found these kind of fruity notes in Tomatin and BenRiach from over 30 years old. May the climate have had a big influence here? I am convinced it did. With water the stuff becomes even juicier.

Conclusion: A whisky that can stand up with classic tropical fruit monsters from Scotland from the golden years in the 1970s.

Score: 91 points


Millstone 1996, 26 years old, bottled at 42,4 % for The Whisky Exchange

Makeup: Oloroso sherry cask # 4152 was also distilled on 25 October 1996 but matured a little longer and was filled on 27 October 2022, resulting in 233 bottles. Done for the Whisky Exchange.

General impressions: An additional six years, in a cask that made the whisky look very dark. When we stick our nose in, we encounter a more classically sherry matured whisky. But one that is fresh, alive, and willing to give a red fruit infusion. Zuidam had some good casks available to them, in October 1996! On the taste the wood seems to dominate that taste, lots of chocolate and coffee, but as soon as you swallow, you notice the finish is riddled with those beautiful tropical fruits that we also found in the younger sibling.

To enjoy those fruity notes more, I noticed water helps a great deal. As if the sherry is fire, and when you tame that, the whisky is allowed to reveal itself some more. The taste shows a funny influence of cinnamon now. I have seen comparison be made to brandy. At mister Krüger of WhiskyAuction fame I got the change to taste a few very old aged brandies last year, at the birthday of my good friend Jens, and indeed the comparison is justified.

Conclusion: Millstone has the ability to give an old soul vibe to an already old whisky. This 26 years old easily taste like a 40 year old, with lots of acquiescence. Having that said, today I enjoyed the playful 20 years old a bit more, but the score is the same.

Score: 91 points

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