Single malt whisky - tasting notes

26 Nov 2013

Gouden Carolus

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in * World

Gouden Carolus whiskyGouden Carolus is a highly respected beer from brewery Het Anker in Mechelen, Belgium. Besides a family brewing tradition spanning five generations, the family also distilled genever in a nearby village (actually almost in the backyard of my home).


Gouden Carolus distillery BlaasveldThis mill and later distillery called De Molenberg was renovated and in 2010 two pot stills were installed, custom made by Forsyths in Rothes. At that time it was the first pot still distillery in Belgium following Scottish traditions. Scotsmen Harry Cockburn (former manager of Bowmore) and Dr. James Swan (who helped to design whiskies for Penderyn and Kavalan among others) helped to define the processes.

I’ve had a quick chat with Charles Leclef, the owner of the brewery, and he stresses the fact that he wants to reach a wide audience of different experience levels, not just connoisseurs. Also he doesn’t want to be bound by Scottish maturation traditions. For now there are no plans for a range of a 5yo, 10yo etc. New expressions are possible but long maturation is not a must.

You may remember another Gouden Carolus single malt released in 2009. That was a totally different whisky, made in column stills at the Filliers genever distillery and matured in Jim Beam casks. A slightly quirky whisky.

The new one is produced in their own pot stills, matured in first fill bourbon barrels with a finish in recharred (virgin) casks. Remember it’s made from basically the triple beer mash, but without the hops and aromatics. It’s just over three years old and bottled unchill-filtered and natural colour. The 50 cl bottles are only available at the brewery for now, but they will appear in select shops in a few weeks. A small visitors centre is planned to open in May 2014.



Gouden Carolus - single malt whiskyGouden Carolus
(46%, OB 2013, first fill bourbon + Het Anker cask finish, 50 cl.)

Nose: attractive nose, despite the obvious youth. Fruity notes (apricot jam and apples), moving to fruit gums and eventually also nice Guimauve / marshmallow notes. There’s a slight Irishness to it. Quite some vanilla. Scented wax candles. Hints of fresh oak shavings as well. Slightly ahead of its age, good. Mouth: full-flavoured, very malty, still quite fruity although there is also a slightly harsh grainy note (which may disappear with some extra years). Vanilla, soft ginger and pepper. Finish: medium long, drying with the oak moving forward. Nutmeg and vanilla.

This new Gouden Carolus single malt is better than I expected. The obvious beer notes of the previous release are gone and replaced by classic malty notes and spiced fresh oak influence. Promising. Around € 37.

Score: 80/100

Gouden Carolus 3 Ruben Luyten 2013-11-26
  • tastydram

    Any news on the extra 6 months maturation they mention (Het Anker Barrels) ? Are these ex-beer barrels, if they use them for the maturation of some of their beers?

  • WhiskyNotes

    I believe they are virgin oak casks made in Portugal. I will check with Het Anker.

  • Het Anker

    The Het Anker casks are used casks reworked to our specifications by J.Dias cooperage from Portugal.

  • tastydram

    Aha. Used casks explain the quite dark color I saw on VTM (or was it due to the lighting?) I’ll just have to wait a few more days before trying it myself and hoping there won’t be a rush on the distributing stores.

  • JDias Coop

    Casks are toasted and charred to Anker’s precise formula and ambitions. Color was not coming due to lightning.

  • Fkeulema

    I completely agree with Ruben. Indeed an amazing improvement with the 2009 release, which was a real disappointment. This new release is worth to be called “single malt whisky”
    I also enjoyed the release event at the brewery some weeks ago. Very well organised. Congrats



November 2015
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Coming up

  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1933 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.