The Zuidam family founded their Dutch distillery in 1975 and have amassed more than 50 years of distilling experience between them. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that they started making whisky and their Millstone label was born. Thank heavens they did! Our 6 Year Old Single Malt from them is a belter!
Zuidam Distillers was founded by Fred van Zuidam back in 1975, starting with just one small copper pot still and a passion to produce exceptional quality liqueurs, gin, and vodka. It took a good ten years to gain a solid reputation within the Netherlands, but business took a major step forward when Fred’s wife Hélène joined the company and redesigned the product packaging. It’s still very much a family business, their two sons now running the distillery, albeit under the ever watchful eyes of their parents.
About the distillery
From its humble beginning the distillery has continued to invest and is now state of the art. Recent expansion has added 1,000 square metres to their current site and there are plans underway for a second distillery.
When the business started there was just one small copper pot still in a 300 square metre distillery. They now operate six stills; two 8,500 ltr, one 2,000 ltr, two 1,500 ltr and one 850 ltr.
Full scale whisky production started in 1998, but trials started as early as 1994 with a few casks produced each year. The Millstone brand was born in 2007 with the first release of a whisky from the distillery, bottled as a five year old.
The distillery is equipped with two mash tuns now, one for malt and one for rye and genever. There are also ten washbacks.
They’ve experimented over the recent years with different grains, and have been looking at some of the older varieties of barley, the train of thought being that if older varieties of vines with lower yields have greater flavour, would the same apply to barley? They currently use seven types of yeast which are giving different flavour profiles.
Fermentation is carried out at low temperatures and in small batches. They also have a much longer fermentation time, around five days.
Whisky is double distilled in handcrafted copper pot stills. The combination of the long fermentation and their small stills produce a very delicate and fruity new-make spirit. While the stills may be small, there is a very high surface area in comparison to the amount of low wines being distilled, The increased copper contact during distillation stimulates the formation of complex and fruity esters.
Maturation is generally carried out in small barrels. They use new American white oak barrels, as well as first fill ex-bourbon and Oloroso Sherry casks. The warmer, drier climate of the Netherlands speeds up maturation however the Angels Share is a little higher at 4-5% per year, more than twice that of Scotland’s rate.
Did you know?
Up until recently all of the malted barley was milled by traditional Dutch windmills. The increased demand, and hence production means that the seven windmills can no longer keep up with all of their requirements, but it is still an important part of their process. This traditional way of milling causes almost no increase in the temperature of the grain and thus helps preserve the wonderful aromas.
The distillery started growing their own barley last year and looking to expand with other grains this year. They are hoping to be self sufficient within 5 years.
While they are still well known for their Genever and other spirits, Whisky now takes up 50% of their production capacity.
About our bottling
Our first batch from Zuidam Distillers is a six year old, bottled at 48.7% abv. It recently won a Silver medal at the recent International Spirits Challenge 2017. The label features Master Distiller and Managing Director Patrick van Zuidam alongside one of their malt milling windmills. There are just 637 bottles available.
Nose: Toffee apples, Big Red, Caramac bars, red rope liquorice and hints of bay leaf.
Palate: Sweet creamy and fruity Campino sweets, sticky liquorice, caramel, green anise and clove studded oranges.
Finish: Long with menthol notes and golden syrup.