zondag 2 juni 2013

Celebrating 50 years Han van Wees in the world of whisky


Today over 100 whiskylovers gathered in Amersfoort to celebrate the 50th anniversary of mr Han van Wees in the spirit and whisky-business.
Amersfoort is a city in the heart of the Netherlands and home to the family run business of Van Wees which was founded in 1921.
Van Wees opened up the Dutch market for good quality whisky. A very nice story is the one about a ship with blended whisky, that had sunk in Dutch waters. Van Wees bought the whisky and it proved to be A-quality scotch, intended for the South American market. Since the Dutch had to deal with lesser quality (A- quality went to dollar countries in those days), these bottles sold like hotcakes. However, the importer and producer were not happy with this lot being on the market and bought it back from Van Wees, who made a profitable deal.

Van Wees was also the first company to import Glenfarclas, Springbank and Macallan. They also have very good ties with Gordon and MacPhail, one if not the largest independent bottler in Scotland.
Apart from this, Van Wees releases its own brand of independent bottlings, the Utimate Collection. Most of these bottlings are single cask, for a very good price.
The afternoon was divided in two parts.
The first part kicked off with a nice calvados. Meanwhile mr Van Wees lectured the audience, not only on the history of Van Wees but also on the spirits, that were tasted blindly. So we learned that calvados is not only made from apple, but also from pear.
Some more great spirits from France followed, with an 1972 Armagnac Domaine Boingneres as our personal favourite.
The line up was closed by a 21 YO Whyte and Mackays blended Scotch, which was simply marvellous and a good bridge to the things to come.

Mr Van Wees is never afraid to say the things as he sees them so he wholeheartedly shared his opinion on whisky blends. For him A-quality blends from the sixties are better than most single malts these days.
After lunch we proceeded bravely first with a 1963 Glen Grant bottled by Gordon and Macphail. Now, there is one thing when drinking whisky of such provenance: it gets hard to appreciate a lot of other stuff that’s around, your taste gets somewhat spoiled..
In our case we got spoiled even more, since the second one was a Tamdhu 1962.
Mr Van Wees picked these bottlings because he is convinced that coal fired distilleries, as most of them were in these days, make better whisky than the present steam fired boilers.
So we moved one to another jewel from the sixties, the Strathisla 1964, again a Gordon and Macphail bottling.
Fourth sample was a Glen Avon 1961 apparently produced by Glen Farclas.
After savouring this magnificent dram we tasted the Glen Elgin 1968. Last one was (we thought) a sherried 32 YO Tobermory, a whisky with it’s own definite character.
Then came the surprise malt… a 16 YO Port Ellen, by the Ultimate, one of their own bottlings. Almost impossible to find these days, and if so, only for big money.

This treat was definitely a worthy closure of this memorable day.
We can only hope that the stories mr Van Wees has told and probably many more will be put to paper someday. We did hear that plans are made to make a documentary on the whiskyworld, with mr Van Wees and the Van Wees company with a prominent role in it.
We will keep you posted!

©Whiskytips 2013

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