Dutch whisky: Cley, Horstman, Boomsma, Eastmoor

Dutch whisky: Cley, Horstman, Boomsma, Eastmoor

We’ve tried single malt whisky from different European countries, including France, Belgium, Germany, Wales, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Finland

Also The Netherlands were represented, but they only had one delegate on this blog: Zuidam’s Millstone of course. There are several smaller Dutch distilleries, so here’s a session to set things right. We’ll add four distilleries to the list.

We start with the single malt from Cley distillery in Rotterdam, basically a home distillery where distiller Paul Den Dulk makes gin, single malt and rye whisky since 2015. He learnt to distill in the Belgian genever museum and chooses triple distillation in copper alambics. He may work on a small scale, but he is currently planning a big crowd-funded expansion. The flagship bottling is a standard 3 year old from ex-bourbon barrels (Heaven Hill or Woodford), with a 6+ month finish in toasted virgin oak octaves.


Cley Single Malt (40%, OB +/- 2023)

Nose: really bright and fruity, showing peaches and sweet pears, mixed with sultanas. Hints of pineapple cubes and lemon peels in the background. Then it moves towards caramel notes and vanilla. At the same time some slightly dusty wood appears – well dosed though.

Mouth: fairly lightweight, not to say a little underpowered, but really clean again. More citrus fruits, apples and candied ginger. Then apricots, hints of vanilla cake and custard, as well as some light coconut. Caramel flavours and walnuts towards the end.

Finish: short, with lingering fruits and honey but also a generic vanilla / wood combination.

This is a really pleasant whisky, that could easily be mistaken for a Scotch single malt, even with a higher age. Glenlivet springs to mind. Really good spirit if a tad generic – most Scottish start-ups manage to stand out more. Maybe taking it to 43% would already make its character shine. I found all of these samples at whiskysite.nl so I’ll happily link to them.


Next up: Boomsma, produced by a Frisian genever and liqueur producer who already marketed their own Scotch blend called Glen Talloch. Their first (and only) single malt whisky is a 7 year old expression, double distilled in pot stills and aged in bourbon casks. They ventured into gin and whisky production in 2015-2016, in collaboration with a local beer brewer to create their mash. It is a recent product, launched to celebrate their 140th anniversary in 2023.


Boomsma Single Malt 7 yo (40%, OB 2023, ex-bourbon casks, 2200 btl.)

Boomsma Single Malt Whisky 7 Years

Nose: a lot of lemon (yoghurt), with green apple, unripe apricot and faint hints of banana. Then subtle aniseed and hints of juniper, alongside vanilla and fresh oak shavings. Again pretty faultless, but quite high-pitched, lacking some depth.

Mouth: soft. No off-notes, but slightly boring. More banana foam, lemon and yellow apple. Lightly grassy touches, vanilla and hints of breakfast cereals. There’s a slightly grainy and gin-like edge but it’s nice to see the wood is not overdone.

Finish: short, with only subtle flavours of vanilla and lemon.

Again this isn’t half bad, you know. The Dutch have a big history in distilling of course. That said, complexity is limited so in my humble opinion this whisky is something you should try at a festival or at the slijter to be up-to-date, rather than buy a full bottle. Available from whiskysite.nl (also samples). Score: 75/100


Then we move to Horstman. This is made with 100% Dutch malt, triple distilled and aged for nine years in sherry casks. After that the whisky moves over to bourbon barrels for an extra finishing. They also have a red label (50% malt, 50% wheat) and a grey version which comes from Port casks.


Horstman Single Malt (45,9%, OB +/- 2023, sherry cask)

Horstman single malt - sherry cask

Nose: bready notes come out, with a good dose of sherry wood.  Hazelnuts, caramel toffee, hints of dark honey. Then vanilla comes out, as well as some fragrant hints of wood, even a solventy note, which comes and goes.

Mouth: darker now, with caramelized nuts and hints of cocoa. Hints of black pepper and cinnamon. The industrial sharpness isn’t gone though, which brings down the overall enjoyment. Not necessarily a fault, it just reminds me of young grain whisky. The sherry brings a light meatiness and liquorice too, but less of the classic dried fruits.

Finish: medium length, still showing a spirity edge alongside woody notes and dark caramel.

The sherry cask adds character of course, and it seems the wood was good quality. Overall a nice whisky but the industrial sharpness bothered me a little. Horstman is selling a sample pack if you like. Score: 76/100


Eastmoor whisky is made by Kalkwijck Distillers. They use barley from their own farms and age the spirit in different cask types depending on the batch. The first release of this whisky dates back to 2015, but we try the latest Batch 9, which combines a (virgin?) European oak cask and Oloroso sherry casks. I’ve read that the spirit is between 4 and 5 years of age.


Eastmoor Single Malt (47%, OB 2023, Batch #9, 1048 btl.)

Eastmoor Single Malt - Batch 9

Nose: peculiar start, but settling down after a while. There’s a clear lemony note, almost of limoncello, but also hints of fresh Ikea packs. Plywood. Light pickle. After some time it shows cigar boxes, as well as oriental spices and mossy notes. Whiffs of white pepper. Then raisins and hints of cocoa continue to make it more classic.

Mouth: raisins, hazelnuts and cocoa, along with plummy notes. The flavours are not very strong, but they are pretty classic. Mid-palate some woody pungency comes out – the harsher side of European oak, I guess. Cinnamon, pepper and aniseed, with hints of toast and malty sweetness.

Finish: okay length, quite spicy now with hints of caramelized nuts and apple pith in the very end.

A bit of a wobbly ensemble, with some lovely elements but also obvious wood taking the upper hand at times. Promising though, I’d like to try other batches to see what the spirit is like in other wood types. Check whiskysite.nl (also samples). Score: 78/100


So when it comes to spirit character, Cley may have made the best impression here. Let’s find out what it does at higher strength, finished for 18 months in an Oloroso octave cask from Montilla Moriles.


Cley Oloroso Cask (54%, OB +/- 2022, Batch #1, 50 cl)

Cley Oloroso Cask

Nose: nicely juicy sherry. Ginjinha cherries, raisins and fig (syrup), with plenty of vanilla richness underneath. Cinnamon rolls and rum raisin ice cream. Then latte and chocolate truffles. An uncommon hint of damp fabrics and a slightly alcoholic edge of young sherry brandy is noticeable.

Mouth: a lot of darker chocolate notes now, with a mulled wine element (clove mainly), some herbal tea and black pepper. Red berries and sour cherries underneath. Then tangy hints of ginger and liquorice, as well as a drying, over-active woody note.

Finish: medium long, with more berries, as well as walnuts,  burnt caramel and a few drops of herbal bitters.

Cley certainly works at higher strength. I’m not 100% convinced by the Oloroso cask which imparts lovely aromas but also plankish hints of wood. That said, this is a rich whisky and a good result so Cley is a name to remember. Given the 50 cl bottle, the price is ambitious though, see whiskysite.nl. Score: 84/100