Dutch whisky: The history, the distilleries, and the specialities

Dutch whisky: The history, the distilleries, and the specialities

Dutch whisky has been gaining prominence recently. Here's everything you need to know about whisky in the Netherlands, from the distilleries to the festivals where you can go to taste it.

Dutch whisky (or Dutch whiskey?)

Whisky - or whiskey if you’re from the United States or Ireland - is an alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented grain mash, specifically barley, corn, rye, and wheat. Whisky is usually aged in wooden casks, and the spirit can be found worldwide with various classes and types. The variations are usually determined by the distinct fermentation of grains, distillations, and amount of ageing in wooden barrels.

History of Dutch whisky

The history of Dutch whisky is fairly new with a few main distilleries that are prominent today.

However, there are distilleries that date back as far as the 1500s making fine liquors and spirits that specialise in gin, genever (jenever), and brandy production. With the recent expansions in whisky development in the Netherlands, the market for it is growing steadily.

Famous Dutch whisky distilleries

As the field of Dutch whisky has been gaining prominence, it is still quite a niche subtype of alcohol. But, here are some of the distilleries that are based in the Netherlands. 

Zuidam distillers

The Zuidam Distillery was founded in 1975, and has been producing incredible whisky ever since. This venture, operated by a single family, has grown into a sizeable operation from its humble beginnings, with six stills and four production lines that sell a variety of spirits and liqueurs. They are most well known for their MillStone whisky, along with their gin and genevers.

Us Heit Distillery

The Us Heit Distillery produces famous malts and whiskies in their own malting house. You can even visit the distillery to take an elaborate tour of the facilities and experience the distilling and maturing processes up close, and of course, taste their delicious whiskies. They offer an extensive range of products that can be bought at the end of the tour.

Types of Dutch whisky

There are many things that differentiate each type of whisky. Along with the various types of whisky, there are other variables that make each drink different, such as the ageing amount, type of cask, and the combination of grains or whiskies. The following are some of the variations:

Single malt whisky

Single malt refers to whisky that is made from one grain, and comes from a single distillery. Amongst whisky connoisseurs, it is often hailed as the preferred type as it brings out the regional flavours of the distillery and grain.

Blended malt whisky

Blended malt whisky is a combination of various single malt whisky that were made in separate distilleries. Blended malt whisky brings out less of the regional flavours, but combining two delicious single malts can yield some seriously tasty results.

Blended whisky

As the name suggests, blended whisky is the combination of various whiskies that have been blended together. The taste of blended whisky is pretty unpredictable, and so while some people really look forward to the unknown, unique tastes that wouldn’t be possible with a single malt, many find it comparable to cheap whisky.

Single barrel

Single barrel or single cask whisky is when the spirit has been bottled in a specific distillery cask. This will help preserve the cask’s unique flavour that is often infused in the whisky, even if it is from the same distillery.

Cask strength

Cask strength, also known as barrel proof, is whisky that skips the dilution process and is instead bottled right from the cask and is known to pack a punch!

Dutch whisky festivals

There are many whisky festivals in the Netherlands. These are some of the most popular ones.

International Whisky Festival in The Hague

The International Whisky Festival in The Hague offers some of the best liquor that can be enjoyed for a day of tasting, enjoying, and discussing whisky in a stunning church location, the Grote Kerk.

Whiskybase Gathering

The Whiskybase Gathering in Rotterdam has an endless amount of fantastic whisky that is paired perfectly with live music in an incredible two-day event.

Whisky Weekend

Whisky Weekend in Amsterdam offers countless whisky blends and live Scottish music that is perfect for both whisky connoisseurs and beginners that are curious. Complete with workshops, stalls, and tastings, this event is great for everyone!

Whisky Weekend North Netherlands

Enjoy excellent whisky in Groningen at the Whiskey Weekend North Netherlands festival which offers drinks from the best whisky distilleries in the Netherlands. Take part in tasting classic favourites to luxurious whiskies.

Bottoms up!

Get the party started with some of the best in Dutch whisky! Have you got a favourite whisky? Then be sure to share your tips in the comments below!

Eesha Wirk


Eesha Wirk

Eesha studied in the United States, obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience and Studio Art. She is currently getting her Research Masters in Cognitive Neuropsychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In...

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