Recently I thought to myself, it’s been a while since I reviewed a genever. And then I realised I still had Wynand Fockink‘s latest in the review queue. Well, I say genever, but I mean Barrel Aged Korenwijn. I’ll get to the distinction in a minute. First, you might be interested to know it was finished in an Islay Whisky Cask.
It’s a cask with some history. And interestingly, it has never been the property of Wynand Fockink. That sounds curious, but there’s an explanation (of course). After spending an unknown number of years raising little Ardbeg babies in Scotland, this cask was then shipped to the Netherlands. Twente, to be exact – the region where I live.
To be even more precise, the cask ended up in the possession of Berghoeve Brouwerij. This brewery used it to mature one of their Twents Imperial Stout beers. Once they were finished with the cask, it ended up in the hands of the current owner, Robbert. He is an ardent Ardbeg fan, and members of the Dutch whisky scene may know him as a whisky freak with a proclivity for making confessions.
Pictured above, Robbert (left) notified Monique ten Kortenaar (right) of his new, rather chunky piece of whisky memorabilia. As the head distiller of Wynand Fockink, Monique mentioned the cask might be of use to her. And so, Robbert crammed it into his car. Luckily, he now owns a family-sized sedan. (He’s a new dad.) His previous tricked-out car could barely clear speed bumps.
The cask cleared Monique’s inspection earlier this year, after which it was immediately filled with 3-year-old korenwijn from a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel. It was then left for 6 months before it was bottled and released as their second Special Edition. (Read my review of the first here.)
Wynand Fockink’s Korenwijn is a triple-distilled spirit made from corn, wheat and rye. No botanicals need to be added to korenwijn, an important distinction from genever (which needs to include juniper berries). Mind you, botanicals can be added to Korenwijn – and some producers do. But the Wynand Fockink Barrel Aged Korenwijn Islay Cask Finish does NOT contain any botanicals.
Korenwijn is generally viewed as a subcategory of genever, but in many instances could also be sold as whisky. This Wynand Fockink Barrel Aged Korenwijn is one such instance.
Nose: There’s a mellow vanilla sweetness accompanied by marzipan, toasted grains, custard and meringues. Some obscure hoppiness too, then a few stone fruits and raisins, and finally a few roasted coffee beans. Taste: Decent creaminess with a moderately spicy arrival. Nutmeg and black pepper come to mind, but there’s also a whisper of star anise, liquorice and fudge. Robbert swears there’s a puff of smoke in here, but my taste buds don’t detect it. It’s pretty grain-forward too, which is always nice. Finish: Medium length. A touch of resin, but also a good amount of sweetness. Maybe a sliver of ashes.
Admittedly, the influence of the ex-Ardbeg cask seems modest. It's more so the stout that has left an imprint. The Ardbeg characteristics are hard to find. But I don't mind that at all. The Wynand Fockink Barrel Aged Korenwijn is rather neatly balanced, showcasing the spirit at a young, yet pleasantly developed stage.