A micro-distillery located in Rotterdam, Cley is one of the most promising whisky producers in the Netherlands. Today I’ll take a closer look at two new releases from Cley Distillery, both over 4 years old including an 18-month finish. One in a PX quarter cask, the other in an Oloroso octave.
I’ve yet to visit Cley Distillery, which is a travesty, really. Sometime this year, hopefully. When that happens I’ll report back here and provide some more in-depth information. What I do know is that founder and distiller Paul den Dulk completed his distillers training at the Dutch Jenevermuseum, which must’ve been quite influential. I look forward to one day discussing his experiences and how he applies them to his own distillation process.
But for now, we’ll have to do with a liquid report.
Nose: A bit shy at first, and the Oloroso is less intense than I’d expected. Hints of bung cloth, resin and candied cherries, with a touch of cacao, mocha and a hint of coffee beans. Taste: The palate is very chocolate-y. Pralines, chocolate buttercream, and dark chocolate. Also a pinch of pepper, some cloves, a hint of eucalyptus, and a handful of red berries. Finish: Medium length. A touch of fennel, sultanas, and a raspberry candy cane.
I won’t say I’m pleasantly surprised, because I think quite highly of Cley Distillery. Yet it is always satisfying when expectations are met, and the Cley Distillery 4 Years Oloroso Cask is a very pleasant whisky.
Nose: This too needs a bit of time. Whispers of baking spices. A touch of cinnamon, as well as some nutmeg. Also oat cookies, vanilla custard and rum raisins. Then notes of blackberries too, and even a hint of soy sauce. Taste: Fairly thick mouthfeel. A mixture of subtle spices (black pepper, cloves) with touches of crème de cassis, aceto di balsamico and sweet gingerbread. A whisper of crushed mint leaves too, followed by a faint note of leather. Finish: Medium to long. Sweet, candy-esque at times, but also a whisper of rye bread, which doesn’t totally make sense to me, but is very welcome.
Yes, it's a little sweeter than the Oloroso release, but the spirit can handle it. The Cley Distillery 4 Years PX Cask never edges over and balances sweetness with spicy touches.
Both the Cley Distillery 4 Years PX and Oloroso Cask are well-made, precision whiskies. Obviously, the finishing casks have had an impact here, and play a prominent role in each of these whiskies’ flavour profiles.
And yet I never get the feeling that the casks overpower. You’d never call these spirit-forward either, but there is a nice sort of synergy here that is usually difficult to achieve when maturing in smaller casks.