Kalkwijck Distillers is my local whisky distillery, so I’ve got a special fondness for them. They’re about 25 minutes away, situated on a working farm. Indeed, a single-estate distillery, my favourite kind. Today I’m reviewing one of their latest releases, the Eastmoor American Oak Single Cask Batch 3.
One of the quirks that you should probably know about, is Kalkwijck Distillers’ different distillation regime. Up until recently, all their whisky was distilled on the grain. It means that the solids (barley husks for example) aren’t filtered out of the wort before fermentation. And these solids are distilled as well. This adds a very characteristic grassiness and maltiness to their spirits.
Knowing Kalkwijck Distillers’ background, their approach is unsurprising. Head distiller and owner Lisanne Benus initially focused fully on genever. This classic Dutch drink is traditionally distilled on the grain. However, just last year Kalkwijck Distillers installed a new mash tun, allowing them to filter the wort. This tweak in their process leaves more room for fruitiness in the final product, although I’ve been told the first new-style spirit had that Kalkwijck signature too.
The Eastmoor American Oak Single Cask Batch 3 was made with their old mash tun. It is very much distilled on the grain. This single malt matured in virgin oak for the first year and then spent a further three years in an ex-bourbon cask.
Eastmoor American Oak Single Cask Batch 3 (46%, OB, 2023)
Nose: The virgin oak influence is undeniable. Hints of teak and sandalwood, slightly resinous, and a tinge of ginger. Also slivers of cinnamon, draff, stewed apples and mush bananas, as well as some coconut shavings. Taste: Creamy mouthfeel and an initial sweetness. Processed sugar, cotton candy-esque. Then slightly more aggressive white pepper, spicy ginger and warming vanilla, as well as meringues. Finally a whisper of crushed mint leaves. Finish: Medium length. Sweet barley and vanilla notes intertwined with subtle oak shavings and fennel.
A little too cask-forward maybe? There's not much left of Kalkwijck's trademark cereal notes, a result of their on-the-grain distillation. However, the Eastmoor American Oak Batch 3 remains an agreeable malt, as long as you don't mind virgin oak, of course.