Range Review: Millstone
Our take on the Millstone whiskies!
A classic example of an American oak, this core expression is notable for often being older than the number on the bottle, with batches ranging from a few months to a few years longer in cask than the age statement implies.
- Body – 8: Robust but in the way that American oak whiskies often are, like being coddled by a hay field.
- Length – 9: A surprisingly long and lingering finish, something zesty to mull over on your tongue after the initial sip is long over
- Burn – 9: At 43% it isn’t hot but the spice lets you know that it’s still booze and not water!
- Complexity – 8: Not much of a complex thinker, all the characters are upfront but the finish drops hints of citrus fruits which gives it a little bit more interest
- Texture – 8: Light all the way through with a hint of creaminess that never fully realizes
- Balance – 8: The connection between the nose and palate of this whisky is good, similar notes all the way through that
- Flaws – 7: The initial spice and yeast notes on this whisky were not super flattering and it could have benefitted from more time in cask (the 2018 bottling is pretty much 10 years old exactly).
- Aroma Enjoyment – 9: A wave of baking spices greets you and then softens into notes of dried hay, golden honey and lime marmalade zest. More time in glass sweetens it up.
- Palate Enjoyment – 6: A more astringent affair with a cornflake sweetness, nutmeg spices and sourdough bread yeastiness.
- Overall Enjoyment – 8: Not a bad time, I am longing for the orange and vanilla you would normally find in an American oak cask, but the bright grassiness is still pleasant, and I would happily make Highballs all day with this
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The tightness of the woodgrain in French oak trees means that the spirit doesn’t get as much interaction with the wood sugar, leading to a dryer baking-spice flavour in the whisky. This unique attribute of French oak wood makes it highly sought after by distillers around the world, especially for long maturation statements.
- Body – 8: Light and fleeting, the first lightning bolt of flavour dissipates quickly and you’re greeted by the softness of the finish
- Length – 10: Surprisingly gentle and delicate on the finish, like walking through a redwood forest and inhaling the earthy winter goodness
- Burn – 6: Oh yup, that spicy kick of the French Oak greets you at the door. Delve too deep and you could wind up with a tingling tongue. At 43% it’s definitely not overly sharp but I do wonder if some extra ABV would encourage a more syrupy and sweet experience.
- Complexity – 8: Definitely a complex time, from the barrel funk to the earthy undertones to the astringency, this dram gives you a lot to think about
- Texture – 7: So this is what licking the Mojave desert feels like.
- Balance – 8: Quite the rollercoaster of a dram. If you focus on the core dryness carried through by the oak then you can say that is balanced, supported by the earthy undercurrent.
- Flaws – 7: Often we talk about sulphur as being a major flaw in whisky and that’s not wholly true. This is a case where the cask sulphur interacts with the elements of the spirit in a way that accentuates the natural funk of the Dutch barley grain. But unfortunately, it does teeter on the edge of being slightly too much.
- Aroma Enjoyment – 9: Bursting with aromas of under-ripe peaches, white flowers and stone fruit, it leads into a wet earth and wine funk.
- Palate Enjoyment – 6: Bone dry, the French oak rips any initial sweetness and hands you an invitation to experience putting tongue directly to oak. Indications of sapwood, bog water and fermenting citrus.
- Overall Enjoyment – 6: If you’re a sweet-tooth who loves a rich and syrupy dram then this one might not be what you expect. Appealing to the classic old-boy whisky and refined wine drinkers, this is one for sipping over a classic work of literature.
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The Zuidam family have always been huge fans of local European Sherry casks and that reflects in a lot of their core expressions, but also in their limited releases. This special release bottling is a double casking of Oloroso and PX cask matured for a total of 9 years.
- Body – 8: Light and yet rounded, like a milky tea it has a slight creamy weight to it.
- Length – 8: The first dram from the bottle doesn’t stick around for too long but once it gets some air the finish feels chewy in your mouth like a choc chip cookie
- Burn – 6: Ooooh mama, for 46% ABV this one definitely lets you know it has arrived. A few drops of water wouldn’t be a bad idea to tame this dram.
- Complexity – 7: Like a Gertrude Stein poem, this whisky is complex but difficult to understand.
- Texture – 8: At times, this whisky feels creamy but at others it feels sharp and zesty like a fun merry-go-round for the palate.
- Balance – 7: A wild ride for sure, it feels like the two sherry casks are in a duel to the death and my palate can’t decide which flavours to root for.
- Flaws – 8: On paper this dram should be heaven for a sweet-tooth but in practice it doesn’t carry any of the rich characteristics normally seen in a fully sherry matured whisky, the wine funk is very domineering.
- Aroma Enjoyment – 8: Fairly closed off and hot at first, after a few minutes it opens up to notes of fresh raisin bread and a Nerds rope sugary and tangy combination that eventually morphs into the distinct smell of garam marsala and French toast.
- Palate Enjoyment – 8: Imagine if you will, pan frying raisins, then after a few more sips the fresh raisin bread character returns with a teasing of cinnamon rolls just out of reach.
- Overall Enjoyment – 7: A funky and interesting time in a glass, not overly sweet but with just enough baked goodies to entice you back for another sip. I only wish that the two sherry casks worked together more.
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This special release is matured in American oak barrels and finished for 36 months in First Fill Moscatel Sherry casks, aged for a total of 9 years.
- Body – 8: Does what it promises on the nose, a light fruity body, reminiscent of drinking a can of Solo.
- Length – 8: This one sticks around for a while, clinging to the sides of the mouth and lingering on the lips, but the lemon is the predominant note on the finish.
- Burn – 8: Outside of the hints of lemon pith bitterness, this whisky holds its ABV well but there is a definite tingle at the end.
- Complexity – 9: Each sip makes me look for more sweetness, more citrus fruit, constantly opening up as it sits in the glass. This one is a novel not a short poem.
- Texture – 7: Surprisingly dry the whole way through from the palate to finish, not unpleasant at all just not as gentle a texture journey as one might expect.
- Balance – 8: The hint of lemon meringue pie carried through to the palate and finish and it felt like a journey going back in time from lemon cake to lemon fruit, the only wobble being the slight pith bitterness
- Flaws – 9: No glaring faults in this whisky though the youthfulness of the spirit is lurking in the background of the palate.
- Aroma Enjoyment – 9: Sugary goodness wafts over the front the nose, butter menthols, barley sugar candies and a subtle nod to lemon meringue pie.
- Palate Enjoyment – 9: More of that lemon makes itself present, delving into marmalade vibes and rock candy with a fizzy fermented mango brightness.
- Overall Enjoyment – 9: A great ride for the senses, a classic dram. I only wish that the sweetness I was promised on the nose had carried through, a longer finish in the Moscatel cask would not have gone amiss.
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A longer maturation in these Spanish Oloroso sherry casks has the effect of rounding out and amplifying the sweet chewiness of their whisky. The Dutch malt and Spanish sherry work together in great harmony to create a highly drinkable dram.
- Body – 8: Curiously light throughout the palate with a richness on the nose that is upfront but fades as the dram coats the mouth.
- Length – 8: This one stays with you for the perfect amount of time, but the predominant note that stays is the clove spice.
- Burn – 8: Sweetness rushing at you makes way for the baking spices which give a slightly hot back note.
- Complexity – 9: There is plenty of sweetness hiding away in this dram that allows you to open up all the layers inside. An adventure I definitely want to take!
- Texture – 9: Lovely mouthfeel, a classic soft creaminess with enough chew to make it interesting.
- Balance – 9: Cohesive from nose to palate to finish, a well rounded dram.
- Flaws – 9: A solid whisky with unfortunately some very slight intense notes of clove.
- Aroma Enjoyment – 9: Soft hints of golden syrup and pancakes, demerara sugar and wafts of heather flowers entice you in!
- Palate Enjoyment – 9: An almost chewy experience, lashings of spiced leatherwood honey, cloves and hot crumpets coat the whole mouth.
- Overall Enjoyment – 9: An all-round enjoyable experience! Not as richly sherried as one might expect from the label but a quaffable dram nonetheless, a great pick for the not-so-sweet-tooth.
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Without a doubt Millstone’s most popular and recognizable expression, the 100 Rye is named for the fact that it is 100% rye grain, 100% pot distilled, aged for 100 months (just over 8 years) in exclusively American Oak barrels, and bottled at 100 proof.
- Body – 9: A well weighted whisky, the warming qualities add to a slightly viscous and oily body without being cloying.
- Length – 8: The warming alcohol taste on the tongue lingers for longer than the flavours do but it’s stretched out just long enough to make you want to go back for another sip after a few moments.
- Burn – 9: For the highest ABV of the bunch it holds it well! The main indicator of it’s booziness is the warm sensation left on the tongue throughout the finish.
- Complexity – 9: Curiously probing, I could sit and deconstruct this whisky for quite a while!
- Texture – 9: If a whisky could feel crumbly like bread this one definitely hits that mark!
- Balance – 8: The connection between the nose and palate are in great harmony but the finish gets away from it a bit.
- Flaws – 9: Juniper would typically be a flaw note in a lot of whiskies, and it does raise the questions about which stills are used for what products. But here it just adds to the pickle brine notes.
- Aroma Enjoyment – 9: Warming in the best way possible, it smells of fresh damper bread, frangipanis, pickle brine and a touch of juniper berry.
- Palate Enjoyment – 9: It takes a few moments for the iconic pickle characteristic found in Rye whisky but it arrives more pleasantly than usual, like biting into a Reuben sandwich and drinking a cup of hot cocoa at the same time. Bursting with cooking chocolate, Russian Reuben sauce, and sweet American pickles.
- Overall Enjoyment – 9: There’s a reason that this is a beloved Rye whisky in the industry, and the first sip shows you why. It’s not comparable to many American ryes though, rather it’s a tasty beast of its own.
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Review by Emma Cookson of Whisky & Alement for The Whisky List