I wasn’t planning on going to the Potstill festival this year, since it would be only two days after returning from our USA travels. But, as I could have expected, just before the vacation started I decided to get myself and JP a ticket after all!
The Potstill Festival is held in Amersfoort every year by liqour specialist / importer / bottler Van Wees. They bottle their own range of whiskies as The Ultimate series and since a few weeks they have some rums available as well. Apart from bottling they import quite a few brands varying from Amrut, Gordon & MacPhail to Signatory and Arran. Apart from that there is a whole list of rums, grappas, calvados’ and such. One of the best things about the festival is that nothing of what you taste costs you anything extra. Quite dangerous too!
I decided before I went that I wouldn’t limit myself to whisk(e)y alone this time, since I’ve come to realize through various tastings that some rums and other distillates can be quite spectacular too.
Take in mind that all these drams were shared by two people, and the drams poured were very small. I tasted a lot but drank very little. There are a LOT of notes, though…
Here’s what I found:
Grappa: Villa de Varda Pinot Grigio
The first grappa I enjoyed! Brandy with a whiff of alcohol that dissipates after a short while and displays more fruity tones then too. Light, crisp and fruity, with some sugar and raisins. Thanks to Robin Brilleman for recommending this one!
Liqueur: Villa de Varda Limoncell0
Well, lemon. A nice drink, but not complex or anything. Just massive amounts of lime. Exactly as expected and how it should be.
Whisky: Sullivan’s Cove Bourbon Cask
Lots of vanilla and wood, spicy but fairly closed and compact. The taste has quite some vanilla as well as clove and cinnamon.
Whisky: Sullivan’s Cove Port Cask
Quite fruity due to the Port Cask I guess. Nutty, like a tawny port. In the finish is displays some fire. Not my kind of dram, as most port casks.
Rum: Zuidam White Rum!
Brand spanking new and the first Dutch rum ever. Maybe even the first rum from the European mainland. Not too much molasse, but fruity and tropical. Very smooth.
Whisky: Millstone French Oak
Fruity and malty. Quite gentle and better than I expected after tasting the American Oak a while ago. Very light with some burn in the finish.
Whisky: Millstone peated
Not overly peated, but the peat that is there is quite heavy. Iodine, wood, cereal and in the finish some spice. Unfortunately also some cardboard but not too bad.
Calvados: Chateau de Breuil 20 yo
My first Calvados in a long time. I have tasted their 15 year old and some others as well, but this one is very good. Gentle with massive amounts of apple. A hint of flowers is present as well with some wood in the background. This was the best dram I had at the festival.
Liqueur: Zuidam Orange Likeur
The liquid form of Lu’s Pims cookies, minus the chocolate.
Whisky: Gordon & MacPhail Ardmore 1992 Cask Strength
Dry, cereal, some peat but not too much. Nothing special.
Whisky: Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila 1997 Connoisseurs Choice 43%
Heaps of malt, peat, malt, something sweet in the background and malt.
Whisky: The Ultimate Glencadam 1972, 46%
Quite malty for its age, with wood, some chalkiness and something tingling. A slight acidity and increasing fruitiness over time. A bit of a weird flavour that I couldn’t pin down too. Not bad, but at this age I expected something more. From The Ultimate’s Old & Rare range (with a Glenf…, Linlithgow and a Dallas Dhu), this is the least appealing. Still not bad though.
WhiskEy: Jefferson’s Reserve Presidential Select 17yo
Fruity and light, with a hint of hobby glue that only makes it more exciting. Not too sweet and a hint of cigars. A very calm and relaxing dram with some wood and pepper rounding it off into a full, but somewhat dry finish.
WhiskEy: Willett Pot Still bourbon
Lots of spices with quite some pepper. The corn is prominent. A full body and in the finish some red forest fruits.
Whisky: Gordon & MacPhail Reserve Imperial 1997-2011 53.6%
On the nose this one displays quite a bit of fruit. Some citrus fruits, but on the sweet side. The taste is rather fierce but also slightly cloying in its sweetness. The finish is more spicy.
Whisky: Gordon & MacPhail Reserve Caol Ila 1999-2011 60.5%
Malty at first but it becomes sweeter quite quickly. Some dryness and vanilla.
Whisky: Amrut 2 Continents 2011
Lots of ripe tropical fruits, banana, papaya. Also some musty malt.
This is a lot more spirity, although the only difference between this and the previous one is some maturation in Scotland and 4% abv. Coffee notes as well.
Rum: Cockspur 12
Enormous body, heaps of flavour. Sweet spices, cinnamon, molasse. Very tropical…
Absinthe: I don’t know which one
Crap absinthe. Cheap stuff. The producer has more gimmicks than taste apparently. In one bottle there was a small scorpion, in the other a locust.
Whisky: Signatory Glen Mhor 1-9-1982 – 6-4-2010 27yo 55%
Sweet and heavy. Quite sharp and dry with garden herbs, some vanilla and some wood. The finish is very nice, quite crisp and some sharp spices.
Whisky: Signatory Glen Grant 1992-2010
Very thick, very heavy and wintry. Sweet and fruity with wood and banana. Stewed pears with a long finish.
Whisky: Arran 12 Cask Strength
A very present sherry cask I think (although I am known for getting this wrong). Nutty, European oak. Fruity and dry on the palate with raisins and some wood spices. The finish isn’t too spectacular.
Whisky: Arran Sleeping Warrior
Wine grapes. Lots of them. The wine finish is VERY clear. Quite sweet and still rather sharp. There is a hint of saltiness and nuts too.
Whisky: Akashi White Oak 5yo 45%
A very young Japanese whisky. Nice but not spectacular. It does have some maturity to it, for a five year old. Wet wood, spicy, vanilla. It all is a little thin though.
Whisky: Kornog ‘whisky breton’
A peated French whisky that displays a heavy palate with peaty and earthy notes. Rather gentle though.
A bit of a strange festival. I might have had a slow start on my palate since I hadn’t had any proper drams for a few weeks, but most of the whiskies just didn’t do it for me. The best dram was a Calvados and there were quite some nice rums present. Some just nice and not memorable or spectacular.
Very varied tasting notes, and maybe a bit judgemental. I think I had to become more strict in my ratings, with all the 4 and 5 stars flying around on the blog. I had a bit of mixed feelings in the end. I had a great time, but mostly because of the company and meeting heaps of people I know, talking to distillers and such. Some drams did it for me, but most of them were only so, so.