Turv Exloo Distillery ‘Prime Whisky’ (2016)
Before we start, let’s make one thing very clear: despite what the label on this bottle says, this is NOT whisky. Turv Exloo Distillery ‘Prime Whisky’ is a very controversial release for the Dutch market. So much so that at one point it made the nationals news, and currently Turv Exloo Distillery has been banned from using the word ‘whisky’ for their product by the Food & Consumer Product Safety Authority.
So why isn’t Turv Exloo Distillery ‘Prime Whisky’ a whisky? You really only have to know one thing: Turv Exloo Distillery has only been in production for a couple of months. So you do the math. It’s simply not possible for them to have a whisky already.
The owner at one point proclaimed he simply didn’t know there was a minimum age restriction for whisky, which I find hard to believe. His explanation for bottling it at such a young age comes down to this. His distillation process is so innovative, making the spirit so exceptionally good, that it doesn’t need three years in an oak cask. At three months it should rival whisky twenty times (or more) its age.
What’s so innovative about his production process? I don’t pretend to completely understand their set-up, which consists of two column stills and one pot still with copper helmet. What I do know is this: they don’t use the traditional foreshots, middle cut, and feints-method when deciding which part of the distillate is of good enough quality to put in a cask. At Turv they take the best parts of the entire run (or so they say), instead of using the middle cut. So part of the distillate comes from what we traditionally know as the foreshots or feints. I don’t know if that is innovative, but at least it is different.
Some final tidbits before we continue to the tasting notes. ‘Prime Whisky’ has actually been distilled ten times. It has matured for roughly three months in virgin oak casks. It’s not known if this is a malt whisky or a grain whisky.
Turv Exloo Distillery ‘Prime Whisky’ (43%, OB, 2016)
Nose: A tad sour-ish (pickled lemon peel). Not unpleasant, but different. Grainy and floral. No depth or layers.
Taste: Glue, which is a common aroma (in whisky), but not necessarily a common flavour. Some strange off-notes. It is off-putting. Slightly phenolic. Grassy. White pepper.
Finish: Really short. A hint of oak, spices. But the off-notes also make an encore. Luckily not for too long.
I know it’s a spirit, but the producer clearly wants it to be judged as a whisky, so we’ll do that. It doesn’t feel like the oak has had too much influence in the three months of maturation. Nothing about the spirit really stands out. There’s no obvious fruitiness, maltiness or peatiness. Nothing.
I don’t find Turv Prime a succes, neither as a ‘whisky’ nor a spirit. Even if you’d think of it as the latter, it certainly doesn’t compare favorably to the different new makes I’ve tried at Scottish distilleries.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.