I’m late to the New Holland bandwagon. Heck I’m late to the followup or any of their beer, which has its own impact, as other whiskies of many types have been finished in their beer barrels. Has a cool name too: Dragon’s Milk. Sounds badass like it’s a new metal band that does melodic work mixed with J.R.R. Tolkien references.
New Holland Brewing started in 1997. They make Beer, Seltzer, Gin, Vodka, Rum, and the thing you’re here for, Whiskey (and some other things too, the list was getting long). Beyond that I had some trouble finding any new information beyond that. These releases are some of the first ones, the ones you don’t find anymore. I had friends pour these for me and then saved them to have with my father.
Suffice to say his tendency to go towards Buffalo Trace did not prepare him for new American craft spirits. He also is not used to single malts. As such I kept back the second release for his sake.
What do we have? We have the original 3-year-old Zeppelin Bend and the 18-month-old whisky. So let’s dive in, shall we?
Thanks to /u/walking_spanish for this sample.
Up first I tried New Holland 3 Zeppelin Bend. It’s made from 100% malt barley and aged in new American oak barrels. Some of that barley is heavily roasted and fermented for up to 10 days.
That’s interesting. I’m always interested in American Single Malts. Scotland and Japan make them, so what does the American impact do? Can they differentiate themselves? Can other countries learn from them? As a Canadian, I’m pretty sure they won’t.
Let’s see what New Holland came up with, shall we?
Stated Age: 3-years-old
Cask type Virgin American oak
Colour: 10YR 6/10
Nose: Honey, cereal, oak, tropical hand lotion, pear
Sweet, very young (you get fake/chemical notes), and lots of pear and oak. Not bad, really. Nothing too harsh.
Obviously the question is: Is it closer to a bourbon or a Scotch? It’s closer to a Scotch, easily, other than the raw wood notes.
Taste: Dandelion, caramel, cocoa digestive, apple
Floral, sweet, and a bit of cocoa. I’m… enjoying this quite a bit? More than I expected from a 3-year-old. Again, it’s lacking some complexity, there’s a good share of sweets, and the flavours are simple.
On the other hand, I’m always happy to have a floral, chocolate dram.
Finish: Cloves, dry pear, oak, grass, coconut
Lots of spice. I know I said off the bat that this was more like a Scotch, but the finish is totally like a bourbon with the Virgin Oak notes. Given more time I could see these being really interesting. As it stands it gets a bit heavy on the end and basically repeats similar flavours.
Conclusion: What a surprisingly good craft American single malt. It needs time, and work, but I’m not really surprised at that. The taste was nice, the nose was young but showed good signs, and the finish, while very dry/spice and not too diverse, I didn’t really mind too much.
Something I keep in mind when I’m having these new ones is the company is selling them to raise money to eventually make something older. The whiskies from these times aren’t great. This was okay, and that’s pretty good. Didn’t mind having it. So I hope that they keep releasing more (I didn’t see any on their current website so I hope I’m not too late in saying that).
Thanks to /u/twiddleDD for pouring me this sample.
New Holland Cask & Smoke 18-month-old is made up of 2-row American malted barley and peat-smoked barley, all of which is mashed and fermented on site. Then they twice-distilled it and threw it in American white quarter casks for at least 18 months.
Like I said before, this is a release meant to make a bit of money so that they can age the rest of the stuff. It contains peat-smoked barley so they can at least assume there’s some flavour with minimal cask time. Also they used quarter casks to get it moving.
Hats off, really. These are methods that we know that work. Without paying a company to make a yeast that works at young ages (a new idea now, an insane one in the early 10s) these are the two methods that can give flavours ahead of time.
That said… I’ve been here before. So is this a collectors item for the shelf, or a collector’s item to be opened? Let’s see, shall we?
Stated Age: 18-months-old
Cask type: American White Oak Barrels
Colour: 2.5Y ⅞
Nose: Alcohol, glue, apple, fresh cut wood
Not going to lie: The nose is rough. There’s a raw, alcohol, “this was fresh from the still less than 2 years ago” smell to it. Call it rotten, call it glue, call it vodka, whatever. It’s rough.
That said there is a lovely fresh cut wood note that takes over eventually. I’m not getting much peat.
Taste: Old lemon, salt, club soda
Not bad. Look, old lemon isn’t a great flavour. You get that from a bartender and you’re asking (nicely) for them to cut up a fresh one and replace it.
That said, these flavours aren’t too rough compared to what I’ve had. Still no smoke.
Finish: Anise, butter, lime, wood
Hey, that’s a fine finish. Nothing too crazy, and nothing you wouldn’t get from a lot of other young peated offerings. Simple, nice, and tasty.
Conclusion: I’ve had worse from craft distillers. This is actually drinkable. Should you go out and hunt down auctions for it? I guess if you have too much money? If it was still out there to help out the distillery start? Yeah, sure.
This wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great, don’t get me wrong: There’s a strong alcohol note and it definitely was hyper aged and isn’t going to blow your mind. But there’s been a lot worse 18-month-old releases that are bad.
Was meh but I hope to see where they’ve come next. Maybe they have played with more peated malt? Maybe they can peat their own? Who knows.
Bourbon review #280, Michigan review #1-2, Whiskey Network review #2158