Late last year Bimber announced their 2020 Country Collection, including two single casks for the Netherlands. One for retailer Whiskysite.nl and the other for importer Bresser & Timmer. And you just knew it was going to be mayhem. Bimber has an excellent reputation, which makes their products very desirable. So everything sold out within minutes.
Bimber is craft personified and has a limited production capacity. They’d love to please everybody, but simply can’t. International demand is high and the Country Collection was supposed to still some of the hunger. Single cask editions for Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Taiwan and the USA were bottled.
But when the dust settled, many bellies were still empty. Even the stomachs of many of those who actually got their mitts on a release will likely not be fed. They’ll leave their bottles closed for investment purposes or may have already flipped them.
There’s no way Bimber will ever be able to make enough whisky as long as the distillery stays the way it is. And that’s not me working towards an argument for expansion, which probably wouldn’t be possible in their current location anyways. Instead, I’m trying to segue into the Bimber team’s plans for a new distillery in Dunphail. That’s right! If all goes to plan, Bimber founder Dariusz Plazewski will be making whisky in Speyside in the future.
“We are aiming to create whiskies with distinctive profiles that have been shaped by traditional production processes”, Dariusz explained. “At the same time, we are committed to building a distillery that encourages people to act, think and drink different – and for us to lead the way by reducing our environmental footprint.”
They’ve already made it clear that their new Dunphail operation won’t aim to exactly replicate the Bimber spirit. Some may find that strange or disappointing, but considering the expertise the team has shown with their London operation, I’m extremely confident they’ll be able to make something just as worthy in Scotland.
But for now we’ll have to keep fighting for bits and pieces of Bimber. I was lucky enough to be able to try both of the Dutch releases. There’s no vintage on either of them, but I suspect they’re pretty much the same age (3 or 4 years old). Both have matured in ex-bourbon casks.
Bimber Netherlands Edition (58.9%, OB Bresser & Timmer, C#168)
Nose: Much lighter in color than its sibling, I get bright notes of lemon zest, sandalwood and resin. It opens up on some fresh fruits like apricots and red apple parts, but there’s also a touch of sweethearts (the candy). Finally just a whiff of heather honey. Taste: An oily and thick mouthfeel, as I’ve grown accustomed to with Bimber. What follows is almost Pulteney-esque in terms of chalk, pepper and lemon. No salinity though and more oak. Also green grapes and maybe even a quick hit of pink grapefruit. Finish: Lingering notes of galia melon and citrus fruits. A whisper of menthol. Long.
Probably my favourite Bimber so far. The balance between cask and spirit seems to be spot on. A very mature whisky.
Bimber Netherlands Edition (59.7%, OB Whiskysite, C#87)
Nose: A whisper of nail varnish to start things off, followed by rich notes of orange marmalade, apple sauce sprinkled with cinnamon, nectarine and kiwi. Finally some buttery Werther’s Original and milk chocolate. Taste: Oily mouthfeel and touches of tobacco, fresh ginger and licorice, but also a whiff of nutmeg, meringue and caramel. A subtle note of tinned peaches and pineapple juice, and then finally some strong black tea. Finish: Somewhat malty, but certainly also lingering spices. Finally a whisper of butterscotch.
A much more intense, oak forward single malt compared to the other Dutch release. The oak might be just a little too present, but it’s still undeniably top quality single malt.
Surprisingly different, the two Bimber releases bottled for the Netherlands are undeniably well-made whiskies. It’s just that I find one truly outshines the other, I believe mainly because the oak hasn’t gotten as much of a firm grip on the Bresser & Timmer release. The Bimber that was bottled for Whiskysite is comparatively dark, brooding and just overall much more intense.