Sometimes theres just something you want to write about because it excited you. Or because it triggered you in such a way, that it gave you some energy. Well, today was such a day. And, like most stories on my blog, it started a while ago.
Drambuddies, get them, they're useful
For a while now, I've been tasting drams with a certain theme live on Instagram. This is something I do with two great whisky friends Dramblingman and Whisky_in_a_Labcoat. We call ourselves the Drambuddies and have quite a lot of fun doing those tastings.
I like " Funky" whiskies and did a theme about that, Martijn (Dramblingman) did a whole Springbank tasting and Michiel (Whisky_in_a_labcoat) did an experiment with some "whisky snippers". (You have to look it up.)
After one of those tastings, Martijn casually mentions to us: " Oh, I almost forgot. I was speaking to Toon the other day, and there is going to be a tasting of Hogshead Imports pretty soon. We are invited."
We checked our agendas, figured out it was quite a trip by train and decided we were going! YES.
So, after some time being just a block in my agenda, today was the day.
We were going to Nijmegen.
Why so enthusiastic guys?
So let's take some time to do some explanation before I continue. Who is this Toon that was mentioned? And why were we so energized to go?
Well, to cut a very long story short: Toon runs Hogshead Imports. Importer, global brand ambassador and maybe more things, for brands such as Spheric Spirits, Chapter 7, Ferg & Harris, Uncharted Whisky Co, Goldfinch and Whisky is the Limit.
Yes. That's why we were excited to be invited to an open tasting.
But there is more. Next to importing and ambassadoring brands, Hogshead Imports started bottling their own series. And if you have visited a festival recently, you might have spotted those. Again, I was excited to go.
't Zotte Lemke
After a fun trip with the Drambuddies in the train, catching up and sharing samples, stories and some laughs, we arrived in Nijmegen.
Now Nijmegen is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with loads of archaeological and historical sites. From Romans to battles during WW2, it has it all.
And the location for this tasting was Brasserie 't Zotte Lemke. The building originates from 1425 and the whole decoration of this place was in style. Toon gave us a small tour of the place and I noticed that I would love to eat or drink something there more often, were it not for the almost 2 hours of travelling I would have to do. But what a nice place. If you are ever in Nijmegen, I would recommend visiting this place. (Based on the bites served during the tasting, the food is really good.)
What I also noticed when walking in the place, was the line-up of today. A wide spread of different bottles from different bottlers.
After a warm welcome from Toon and his assistants of today Rudi and Stijn, almost all attendants were hesitant to approach.
I did the same. Pondering on where to start, tapping my tasting glass on my upper leg, I saw the first people selecting drams.
In the corner of my eye, I noticed Martijn approaching me. And with a wink and a smile he pointed to a bottle: "You like Ben Nevis, don't you?"
I do. So thats where my tasting started.
Enjoying it all
So, I could discuss all the drams I enjoyed. (The 26 year old Ben Nevis, the 24year old blended malt from Hogshead whisky. The 1999 vintage, 22year old Mortlach from Spheric Spirits, the 16 year old Knockdhu from Chapter 7 and maybe one or two more.) Or the awesome bites that were served. (A deconstructed bitterbal, or the deer stew. Both a very good match with the whisky available.)
Or the great conversations about whisky and all stuff related with other people gathered there. I could. And I would have to spend maybe 1 or 2 hours more on writing. And this blog would be a TL;DR situation.
But, as is common with going to a tasting, there is always one pearl you discover and have to share. And belive it or not, I found it in the series from Hogshead whisky!
Vulcanised rubber & Pompeian Pumice
As the end of this tasting was nearing, I was switched to peated whisky. A risk, as my loyal followers might know, because I'm not a big peathead.
After the Knockdhu from Chapter 7 (Happily peated, a really nice dram!), I was looking for something to follow up. And as it happened, I was standing in the corner with Hogshead bottles. Rudi, and he will for ever be my hero after today, advised me an Coal Ila. after all the 20+ year old whiskies a young one. 10 years of age. However, aged on a 1st fill Caroni barrel. And he warned me: " If I pour you this dram, you won't drink it. Because you will be sniffing it all the time." And he was right.
First sniff: Vulcanised rubber. Bringing back memories of me glueing my flat tire on my bike under a bridge in heavy rain, 20 something years ago. some very warm sweet notes lingering beneath that. After that, still on the nose, slate and vulcanic rock. More specific: The pumice stone that you can find in Pompei. Weird, I know, but it was great. Full on the nose and on flavor. So much, that when I finished it and discovered I could have 1 last dram, I chose this one again. Only 44 bottles were made. That is not much. If you ever encounter this for sale, give me a call. Please.
Some advise and a word of thanks
So concluding this day, I noticed I was more and more attracted to the green bottles with the very slick label: Hogshead own bottles. Try them!
These drams are all awesome and if you look at age, quality and price range, it is a no brainer. I have been on the hunt for a bottle of them before, but now I will do this more often. The blended malt range are a real recommendation, and the Coal Ila that I mentioned is definitely, but so are others in this range.
Thank you Toon for inviting us. For your hospitality and sharing some amazing drams.