I’ve had plenty of whiskies in my time, but have a special place in my heart for World Whiskies, hence World Whisky Wednesday. So my joy when finding that Dominic Roskrow launched his Discovery Road series just a few years ago was quite high. I know, I should’ve known they were out by now and have been covered by near everyone in the industry, but I’ve been sequestered in very closed whisky circles for some time. It’s nice to be out of them by the way. I love Mr Roskrows idea; bringing World Whiskies to light, showcasing them and letting people know that there is something outside of the big 5 available to try, it’s really what I try to do myself with my Wednesday nights. Anyway, todays malt is the Dutch 100% Rye, “Smile”, from the Discovery Road series, and specifically from Zuidam Distillers (you may recognise them from their mainline whisky the Millstone). Zuidam was started in the far back year of 1975 by Fred van Zuidam, as nothing but a mad dream of producing fine quality products for discerning customers. With only a single copper still and production line, they became known over the next decade as the Netherlands premier whisky producer, and after Fred’s wife Helene took over the packaging creation the distillery has gone from strength to strength. Nowadays the distillery and company is run by the sons Patrick and Gilbert, with 4 stills, over 1000 barrels and more. The “Smile” itself is a 100% rye (obviously), aged 7 years, dropping into the glass at 46%.
It’s one of the sweeter whiskies that we’ve nosed, dropping us straight in to a sweet shop; treacle, damp sugar, honey, and up the back of a shelf we found a packet of hard marshmallows, long gone past their used by date but shining with sugar and dripping in honey. There’s a bowl of fruit sitting solitary in the midst of all this, with a singular red apple, a grapefruit, and some dried mango content that they’re in the background. Soon we find ourselves sitting by a fire, sipping on a hot toddy with some lemon and orange bitters thrown in to bring about a warming taste as we roast those marshmallows we found over the fire alongside some Jersey Caramels before wiping everything down with a spray of lemon scented cleaner.
On the palate it is melted sugar and creamy, whipped butter mixed through with demerara sugar. The marshmallows are back again, specifically white vanilla, and corn syrup with touches of ginger and dried fruits, apple, cherry and lime all rolled together, quite stunning to taste. There are touches of sharpness here and there, the dram roiling unexpectedly as the rye jumps about in the form of roasted grains, molasses and car freshener. Our finish runs long and peppery, cinnamon sugar and ginger over some hot molasses in the summer sun.
A beautiful whisky. Rye whisky hasn’t had a whole lot of exposure over the past few years, not nearly the same we give to barley based whisky, but is making a good resurgence, and Zuidams use of the grain here is very well done, kicking off different flavours that feel as though this all too easily could have been a rampaging beast they wrestled under control. Dominic Roskrows name may be on the bottle, but the real draw of this whisky is just the fact that its bloody good, and it’s a shame that some people might just pass it by. Don’t even think about giving up on this whisky. Well done to Zuidam, I wonder what they’ll do next.