If you live in the Netherlands, you may have heard of Hogshead Imports. A relatively new importer, but who has already built up an excellent portfolio of brands in this short time and can be found at whisky festivals with some regularity. But at the end of 2022, Toon van Rooij (owner) also released his own bottlings for the first time under the name: Hogshead Indie Bottlings.
This was not a complete surprise to me because if you know Toon a little bit, you know how passionate he is about whisky and that this was a logical next step in his journey. And I, therefore, expect this will also be a success again.
The bottles all have a lovely old-school look: a green bottle with a simple white label, something I love. That also applies to the first part of the whiskies, which are all very basic and have just a maturation in refill-bourbon barrels. So no bling here, and what is also very nice is that they are also quite reasonably priced.
The second part of the bottles is more pronounced and has a second maturation/finish in port or sherry casks. However, this has had an impact on the price, since these are a bit higher than with the first part.
Anyway, I’m very curious about how all these whiskies will taste. So let’s start tasting!
The first is an 8 year old Linkwood and this Speysider was matured in a refill barrel before being bottled at 48% ABV.
Linkwood 8 years old tasting notes:
Nose: quite light at the start. But then it becomes rather fruity and sweet. Plenty of yellow apples and pears. Which is followed by a hint of vanilla mixed with fresh lemons and green grapes. There is a malty note in the background.
Taste: A lovely oily and thick mouthfeel. Acacia honey and apricot marmalade. Then vanilla. A note of lemonade. Those yellow apples again. And then some spices, such as black pepper and a hint of cloves.
Finish: mid-long with a sweet note, apples, and the same spices again.
Not a complex single malt, but with its 8 years it has a nice thick mouthfeel and is rather tasty. A lovely fruity dram, quite enjoyable!
A first Strathmill review for me! 🙂 And this one matured in a refill hogshead before being bottled at 48% ABV.
Strathmill 11 years old tasting notes:
Nose: a big note of barley and straw at first. Which is followed by a touch of lemon and some vanilla in the back.
Taste: Sweet pears and a grassy note. But then it goes towards barley and straw again. Vanilla, those tea biscuits with sugar on top. A drop of honey too. Then some spices, reminding me of black pepper and cinnamon.
Finish: mid-long with pears, tea biscuits, vanilla in the back, and a hint of black pepper.
Personally, I would have preferred to see a bit more cask influence, as it now lacks some fruit in my experience, but mainly lingers on the barley notes.
Up next we have a 11 year old Benrinnes, which has also matured in a refill hogshead. Bottled at 48% ABV.
Benrinnes 11 year old tasting notes:
Nose: Red apples and a note of pear juice. Which is followed by a mixture of creamy vanilla and almonds. Then banana candies. Lemons in the back and a grassy note. It’s quite fresh and fruity.
Taste: rather soft and creamy. More of the apples and pears, but also some peach in the back, very gentle though. Then a hint of vanilla, but less than in the nose. A mineral note, which is followed by white pepper.
Finish: mid-long, with a hint of barley, pepper, and vanilla.
This is a rather soft and gentle single malt, which is a bit lost in this line-up. But Toon was kind enough to send me a bottle, so I also tasted it on its own and then it holds up much better. Not very complex, but a lovely daily dram, with the nose being my favourite.
With this young Dailuaine, we are now moving on to part 2, which means we go to the more expressive releases. This 6 year old has had a second maturation of 32 months in an amontillado octave. Of course, also bottled at a strength of 48%.
Dailuaine 6 year old tasting notes:
Nose: a lovely smell of mocha mixed with chocolate at first. Followed by an earthy note: mushrooms and wet forest ground come to mind. Tobacco. Then red apples, sweet oranges, but also a hint of cherries. There is some honey too.
Taste: quite creamy for such a youngster! More of that lovely creamy mocha. A bit of honey, followed by oranges. A herbal note, which reminds me of thyme and Ricola, that candy? Hazelnuts. Crushed black peppercorns.
Finish: mid-long. Oranges. Black pepper, hazelnuts, and that same herbal note.
Not usually a fan of octaves, but this is very well done. Although the octave barrel is clearly present, it does not take the upper hand. Beautiful tones and this youngster can handle this very well. Very tasty indeed!
And there was another Benrinnes in the line-up and one that I was a bit afraid of beforehand, ha! Many of you will know by now that port casks are not really my preference… Well, this 10 year old has had a second maturation of 32 months in a Ruby Port Octave. But don’t judge before you have tasted, right? So let’s see what this one has to offer. (Bottled at 48%).
Benrinnes 10 year old tasting notes:
Nose: this is different than expected, haha. Notes of diesel oil and damp earth. A hint of tobacco. Bitter dark chocolate but also oranges. Honey in the very back and a touch of oak. Later I also get a light note of vanilla.
Taste: quite some dark chocolate at first. Tobacco again and more of the oak. There are some fruits too: raspberries come to mind, but also black cherries. Honey and a note of gingerbread. Some spices, leaning towards black pepper and cinnamon.
Finish: mid-long with dark coffee and a bit of oak and spices.
Well, this is funny. There are many flavours, but I miss (thankfully!) that over-the-top sweetness I so often get from port casks. I’m actually really happy with this! Well done Toon, you convinced me there are actually nice ones out there. 🙂
Time to move on to this peated Glenturret, which spent another 26 months in a Rebuilt first-fill PX Sherry solera cask. However, this is the only one not bottled at 48%, but at a strength of 57.1% ABV.
Ruadh Mohr 11 years old tasting notes:
Nose: a nice layer of vegetal peat. A hint of lemons. But after that, it gets sweeter. A whiff of strawberries. Sweet raisins and dried apricots. Caramel fudge, milk chocolate. But also a note of nutmeg and some black pepper too. Later when I return to it I get a malty note as well, barley husks come to mind.
Taste: This is quite spicy, with a sweet note in the background. A malty note again. Cane sugar and caramel fudge, but mixed with a handful of spices, such as black pepper, cloves, and nutmeg. These spices keep lingering all the way through straight into the finish. Later I also get a hint of raisins.
Finish: long and somewhat dry, slightly peaty, chocolate, and the same spices.
A spicy dram this one! You have to love that. But for my taste, those spices dominate a bit too much. I would have liked to see that a little less, giving the Glenturret spirit a more chance to express itself.
Last but not least, it’s time for Caol Ila. A 13 year old single malt, which has spent its last 3 years in a First fill Olorosso Sherry Octave. Bottled at 48% ABV.
Caol Ila 13 years old tasting notes:
Nose: not as much peat as I would’ve thought. Nearly nothing even. A hint of seaweed and a fresh sea spray. Lemons. Some dark chocolate and a drop of honey. Dried fruits, like raisins and dates. Fresh plums, but also a soft note of oranges.
Taste: very drinkable this one. Here I get a little bit more of the salty peat. Dark chocolate. Orange marmalade. More of the raisins and dates here as well.
Finish: mid-long, with a bit of peat again. Some dark chocolate and oranges. And a really light hint of spices.
Beautiful Caol Ila, where the peat is not very present, which makes it an almost elegant single malt. Very drinkable, and a nice combination between Caol Ila spirit and the oloroso octave. Very well done!
All I can say is that it is an excellent first outturn from Hogshead Indie Bottlings. There is something for everyone, and it certainly surprised me sometimes! Hello, Benrinnes with Port cask finish! 😉
A range that has convinced me and makes me curious about what else is to come. As far as I’m concerned, a bottler to keep an eye on. Well done, Toon!
Samples provided by Hogshead Indie Bottlings.