During my vacation in the province of Drenthe right here in the Netherlands I was talking to a liquor store owner in Assen. I was asking him if he still had some bottles of “Den Hool” left. The answer was no, but he would be able to get something new from Drenthe rather soon, if I was interested?
- called Prime,
- bottled from single american oak casks,
- matured for only 3 months,
- bottled at 43%.
My first response to the owner of the liquor store was that these guys must have use new heavily charred small American oak barrels for it to aged this fast with any kind of result. He did not know at that moment in time, so I decided to find out myself.
I need to check but Turv uses a pot still followed by two column stills and a condenser. The pot still is steam powered. The fun stuff is they have added a real type alcohol diagnosis system that can monitor, real time, which kinds of lighter and heavier alcohols are produced. I have to figure it out but what it looks like is that there is more than normal control over the distillation process and products.
Note: 1-aug-2016: I did, sorta, figured out the distillation process and it is absolutely a revolution in the whisky industry. Read more on this blog entry about, what I call, “Selective Congener Distillation”.
Tasting notes after I first opened the bottle.
The nose is familiar. It reminds me of the artisan distillers of the USA. Pungent, drying. “Bourbon like” in the sense that single malt drams from the USA matured in American White Oak smell simular, but not equal.
- Some oak,
- Some vanilla,
- The main nose is obvious spices, mainly clove,
- Light banana,
- Slight melon,
- Slight leather,
- Oddly enough a hint of young cheese,
- After a while some mint,
- The nose of something Solventy is gone after you let it breath for a while before nosing it.
After opening the bottle and nosing it for a 4th time, the solventy note is gone.
- Nice clear alcohol,
- I feel it going down in my body, which I like.
- I’m having some trouble spotting the main taste. That is mainly because I think the main tastes will be strait from the malt. But since I have not tasted mash, I would not really know.
I am pleasantly surprised by the total effect of this young spirit. My advice would be is to let it breath for a bit to get rid of the “spiritus” nose, which quickly goes away. The wood influence is clearly mainly spice. The vanilla sweetness is there, but only more maturation time will give it more of the vanillin. There is lightly fruitiness, mainly banana and slight orange.
What I learn from this is that active wood is a main driver is adding flavour to a dram. This was not unknown to me, but this is the first three months maturated dram I tasted. I plan to go to the distillery and hopefully I can take some new make with me. Just to compare flavour notes.
There is a risk to using these kinds of active casks. I personally like the “bourbon” tastes that I associate with this kind of spirit. Spices, Clove, nutmeg, sweet, vanilla, caramel. Buying new casks is an investment, but also a risk. The only way of consistently reproducing the taste of “prime” is by using virgin oak. After using the casks that made this dram again, the result will never be the same, but at most “simular”. This also gives options, meaning there could be consistent drams from the Turv distillery based on virgin, refill, second fill etc maturations.