Cley Distillery – a special Dutch tasting

It’s a tough time for us Dutch Whisky Brothers. In one week we “needed” to join a tasting by Teeling (see last review) and now by Cley Distillery. You could say: “We’re lucky to be unlucky…😉”

If you’re already having question marks about what…? who…? and where…? “Tell us more about this Cley Distillery”, well here’s a brief introduction:

Cley is a micro-Distillery in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) were Paul den Dulk and Maria Neves started in 2015 to produce whisky and gin under the Cley label. They are using a Dutch tradition Distilling method from the 17th century with their original still from Schiedam. 

For the full history and facts make sure you’ll visite their website or keep an eye out for the Distillery visit post in 2021. We’re planning to visit this micro-Distillery (again) for an in-depth tour and tasting on location. 

Cley “Warehouse”

Now let’s get back on track and find out more about the craft and whisky from Cley. I, Dramtastic.86, picked up my tasting pack @ the Distillery (it’s really nearby my work) and had a small chat with the friendly and passionate Paul and Maria. They’ve told and showed me the line-up for the tasting and now we’ll tell you:

  • Dutch Single Malt Whisky – Batch Strength 52% ABV
  • Single Malt Whisky Caskfriends 4 year – 1 year matured on 65 liter PX Cask 55% ABV
  • Single Malt Whisky Caskfriends 4 year – 1 year matured on 65 liter Oloroso Cask 55% ABV
  • Dutch Malt & Rye Whisky Batch strength 58% ABV
The Cley (special) tasting pack

These samples show that Cley has got quit a variety to showcase, because of different mash fill recipes. But they’re also using different types and styles of casks. You can also buy and fill your own cask with their Caskfriends program. 

The tasting was hosted by Paul (on camera) and Maria (as the sidekick behind the scenes). They had some help for all the questions from George and that was necessary with all our exciting questions. It was our first exploration with this Dutch craft micro-Distillery, so we were stoked to dive in 🥃🤗!

Let’s get this tasting started!

Dutch Single Malt Whisky

For this whisky they’ve used ex-bourbon (Woodford and Heaven Hill) barrels before finishing it on toasted Virgin American Oak quarter casks. They’ve got a 40% ABV release, but we’ve had the 52% ABV (again “unlucky” 😅).

Notes by @Dramtasic: 

  • Nose: Vanilla, melon (Galia), papaya, burned sugar (top layer of creme brûlée), candy sweet and red apples;
  • Palate: Again that melon but less sweet, creamy coconut, vanilla, red apples, toffee some licht spices, honey and butterscotch;
  • Finish: Candy apples, honey, vanilla and some spices like ginger.

Notes by @Whiskypeater: 

  • Nose: Really delicious on the nose, tropical notes, fruitiness like pear and some cream aromas;
  • Palate: Hmm… Honey yogurt with some nuts. Some citrus notes to. Quit oily.
  • Finish: Medium finish with more of those creamy notes.

Single Malt Whisky Caskfriends – PX Cask

Notes by @Dramtasic: 

  • Nose: Sweet red fruits, these evolve in strawberries and blueberries;
  • Palate: Creamy, the sweet red fruits have transitioned to more dark fruits, some vinegar and balsamico, stewed pears, figs, honey licorice, a slight leather note and a Dutch thing “Peperkoek”, it’s like gingerbread, but with way less ginger, it’s more sweet spices;
  • Finish: Again that licorice, some honey and a few spice notes.

Notes by @Whiskypeater:

  • Nose: Smells good, although it’s note packed with typical PX notes. Red fruits (strawberry) and some honey licorice;
  • Palate: Maple Syrup (yummy) and oranges;   
  • Finish: A medium and dry finish.

Single Malt Whisky Caskfriends – Oloroso Cask

Notes by @Dramtasic: 

  • Nose: Oh yeah!! From the first moment I’ve poured this dram into my glass… really promising! Marzipan, tobacco, musty, earthiness and toffee;
  • Palate: Spices like Cardamon, star anise. Dark dried fruits, as you may expect from Oloroso and again that tobacco;
  • Finish: Starting with the spices, star anise, then some licht menthol note, dried red fruits and lingering on with leather and some tobacco notes.

Notes by @Whiskypeater:

  • Nose: This is amazing stuff! Blueberries and tropical fruit notes, also some wood notes;
  • Palate: Really nice in balance, creamy, raisins and currants, vanilla and some cinnamon;
  • Finish: A medium/long finish with more of those creamy raisins notes.

Dutch Malt & Rye Whisky

Notes by @Dramtasic: 

  • Nose: Fresh whipped cream and raisins;
  • Palate: Toffee, a Dutch candy called “babbelaar” (that’s a creamy vanilla/caramel candy);
  • Finish: A gentle menthol note (for me typical on the Rye whisky’s) and some sweet caramel flavors.

Notes by @Whiskypeater:

  • Nose: butter candy and some mint notes;
  • Palate: Spices, black pepper, clove and some sweetness on the end;
  • Finish: Short and a bit flat.

Let’s just start saying that these drams really surprised us! And we mean that in a good way 😉
We’ve had quit the journey so far with Dutch whisky’s, but not always in a good way. Price / quality is something we always keep in mind. 

But this… this is really something you need to dive in to! We joined this tasting with some other Dutch whisky fascinados and we had a unanimous decision: That Oloroso cask… Just delicious! 

Fun fact was that I, Dramtastic.86, had left some of that Oloroso goodness in my glas and I enjoyed it for about an hour after the tasting… It was that good! 

The PX cask didn’t do the trick for us, while normally this is my, Whiskypeater, favorite in the battle between PX vs. Oloroso.
It’s not bad at all, but comparing to that Oloroso… 
Their “regular” Single Malt on ex-bourbon and virgin oak barrels was also a very well balanced and tasty dram. The nose developed really nice after a while. The mash fill recipe with Malt & Rye was also quit surprising, not our typical dram, but lovely. Maybe it needed to be before the Oloroso dram, because it was a bit overshadowed now… (luckily we’ll find a new opportunity to try drink the Malt & Rye again 😉) 

We’re actually really proud that a Dutch micro-Distillery is showing this kind of craft! Wel done Cley! We’re already looking forward to our visit in 2021 and a full in-depth exploration! 

We’de like to thank Paul, Maria and George from Cley for hosting this tasting. And we’ll end this journey with a special shoutout to Roger from Roger’s Whisky Company for arranging this tasting and inviting his Dutch Whisky Brothers!


Dutch Whisky Brothers

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