"This shows how spirit, peat and PX can work perfectly together at a young age"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
In the last decade Zuidam has been slowly building their reputation as a very able whisky producer. More importantly, they developed their own character that resembles, but surely is not similar to the much-loved Scottish equivalent. Their fame started with their price-winning Rye whisky, but has now extended to their range of whiskies, which includes both peated and unpeated spirit. Recently, master distiller Patrick Zuidam explained in an online tasting organised by independent distiller Jan Beek that he wanted to make a fruitier peated spirit with restained smoke and more depth. I have heard that has indeed become kind of their signature. Until recently I was not completely convinced by earlier versions of their peated whisky matured on PX sherry casks. For me it lacked some more depth and smoothness, or maybe integration of the smoky spirit with the cask influence. But things can change as we know and they have progressed their whisky as I found out.
Lots of dark fruits with a heavy smoke in the background. Seems that at least some of the spirit has seen a sherry, probably even PX. Ham, barbecue, chocolate, raisins, cherries and cigar box. The smoke is clearly different from the average Islay whisky, much sweeter, less protruding and very meaty. On second sniff, this might have even been a finish in a red wine cask. Dark forest fruits, grape juice, beer and elderberry juice. More red forest fruits, rum-soaked raisins and more fruity beers. The scents from the fruits, smoke and sweet malt spirit are working very well together and make the experience a very pleasant one. This also reminds me of a quadruple or barley beer finished a peated whisky barrel. You see a lot of them lately. The development brings copper, more dough and some yeasty scents.
Rounded with coal smoke, smoked meat, stout beer, cigarette ash and blackberry. Solid strength and perfectly judged. Acrid smoke, which is directly balanced by juicy fruits. More and more fresh berries, salty raisins, berry juice, berry sauce, and grape skins. A very nice astringency of the sherry with smoked golden raisins. Smoked barley wine beer. The aftertaste is fairly with more of the trio of fruit, smoke and sherry. A hint of copper in the background, some fresh leather and even a hint of smoked herring.
As I said above, things change. This release from zuidam really proves that peat spirit does not only has to be about the peat. In this case the peat is nicely restrained ánd perfectly matches the spirit that possesses a much fruitier side then I have so far found in other (mostly Scottish) peaters. The PX cask is also not heavily forced upon the spirit, instead it is integrated into the spirit and strengthens it. This results a broader range of scents and flavours that works perfectly. One other thing I have to mention is the strength of the alcohol. Again, like Patrick also mentioned during the tasting, they have chosen for the strength that matches the profil. Often I find that whiskies are bottled at cask strength to increase the power, which does not always optimally display the qualities of the whisky. And I have not mentioned the fact that this whisky is only 5 years old… We leave that for next time, since I will be tasting more of their releases. Note that I tasted this in a blind tasting and directly loved it, so no chauvinistic influences here ;-).
This sample was part of organised by Norbert Terbarts!
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •