Wednesday, June 11, 2014
As in the United States, there's craft whiskey distilling going on all over Europe these days, so I thought I'd try a few malts from Belgium.
Belgian Owl, 3 years old, bottled July 4, 2011, 46% abv ($80)
Belgian Owl is a 3 year old, bourbon cask aged single malt made by the Owl Distillery in Grâce-Hollogne, Belgium. This has a strong juniper/gin nose. The palate is much lighter with malt and hay. The juniper from the nose comes in toward the end. The finish is peppery, spicy. This is quite light without much in the way of malt character. It's not terrible, and I sort of like the gin notes, but I certainly wouldn't buy a bottle of it.
Duvel Distilled 2013, 40% abv
Since I've been into distilled beer lately, and Belgium is famous for its beer, I thought I'd try a Belgian distilled beer. Duvel beer is made by the Duvel Moortgat Brewery in Breendonk, Belgium. To make Duvel Distilled, Duvel used the Filliers Distiller, known for its well regarded gin. The Duvel Distilled (not called whiskey on the label) was aged for six years in bourbon and sherry oak and produced 5,000 bottles as well as some minis; it was only sold in Belgium. It's not clear if they used one of their regular beer recipes or made a special recipe for the distilled version. From what I understand, the Duvel Distilled has somewhat of a cult following in Belgium and each release sells out very quickly.
The nose on this has a fruity beer note then a crisp white wine with some malt notes. On the palate, it's very light without much character at all. It's got a vague alcohol taste, but that's about it. There aren't any hops or really any flavor. It's hard to believe this was aged in six years unless it was in seventh fill barrels or something like that. I guess this just goes to show that cult-like followings are not always based on quality.
Well, let's just say I'm not exactly enamored of my first tastes of Belgian whiskey. Hopefully, they will keep working on it.
Big thanks to DB for these hard to find samples.