Hooghoudt is a breath of fresh air for Dutch genever. There are other distilleries producing really goodcask-maturedgenevers, but none are as vocal as Hooghoudt. And I mean that in the best possible way. They are trying to grow the genever category with all their might, and I applaud them for it. Their next chapter is the Hooghoudt Aged 24 Sherry Cask Genever.
The successor to last year’s 23-year-old genever, the new release is an homage to this storied genever family’s second generation, Syne Barend and Ludolf Wietse. Oloroso sherry cask #574 is part of the distillery’s last-ever batch of malt wine produced just before the turn of the century. (Note: they just started distilling again as part of the Graanrepubliek project.) Presumably, it is made from 100% malted barley, just like the previous edition was.
However, it’s not whisky, because botanicals were added. Whereas traditional malt wine distillers tend to be more conservative in their use of botanicals, Hooghoudt is usually very creative. The Hooghoudt Aged 24 Sherry Cask Genever included botanicals such as cranberry, Ceylon tea, black cherries, fig, orange peel, lemon grass and juniper. What I’ve been impressed with so far, is Hooghoudt’s ability to make these botanicals work in harmony with the spirit.
Nose: Immediate touches of juniper, lemongrass and aniseed, but also charred oak, creamy vanilla custard, cinnamon, and rum raisins. What follows is a mixture of coconut shavings, redcurrants, and dates, along with crème de cassis and orange peel. Taste: Initial sweet arrival, but with a spicy kick. The mouthfeel is thick, and syrupy almost. Juicy raisins, dark-roasted coffee beans, figs, and honey, but also some toffee and a slight acidity. Finish: Long and sweet with an assortment of berries, but also touches of resin, coriander and juniper.
Maybe even richer, but certainly sweeter than the 23-year-old release from last year. It's a powerhouse of a genever, that's for sure. Maybe not one for genever purists, but certainly whisky drinkers should be open-minded and give this a try.