The Netherlands has lots of beautiful corners and stretches of nature and its own selection of wildlife. One of our favorite places to go to and relax for the past 20 years we have been together, is certainly one of the many Frisian Islands, better known as the Wadden Islands. This group of islands starting just off the northern coast of our little country stretches out over the northern parts of Germany, all the way up to the west coast of Denmark.
On Ameland, the fourth island in the group, in the village called Nes (sadly, no lochs here), Henk Stuurman started a small distillery back in 2013 reflecting the soul of his home in a distilled product, inspired by the sea, sun and wind, which have shaped the entire group of islands. What has started with a passion to illicitly distill a small amount of liquor years before, has slowly evolved into a legal distillery and now has a handful of full-grown products which he wants to put on the map. Henk contacted us a while ago, and send over a bottle of his moonshine called Aegir, produced at the Nes Distillery.
So, moonshine? Yes, deliberately not a product called “whisky”, “grain spirit drink” or even “liquor” or “vodka”, and it makes sense if you look into how he has created it. He took a locally grown rye, crushed it at the local mill, fermented it – unmalted, with sugar and yeast, creating his own sourmash-esque principal, distilled it, twice, and matured it in a vat with French oak shavings. After a first maturation period, he added an extract from a seaweed he harvested from the beaches around Ameland, and put the mixture away for another resting cycle. Reason enough not to call it whisky, or even pretend it is something close to it, so he decided on giving it a different, but commonly known name: moonshine.
The smell and taste is also quite different from what we have come to recognise in whisky, but if you know us a little, we do not shy away from a little spirit-experiment every now and then, and were intrigued by what he had to present us. Definitely a product worth trying. The smoothness of the creamy rye combined with the briny bite of the seaweed immediately transferred us back to when we last were on the island, faces in the wind whilst walking over the dunes, overlooking the beach and the sea, enjoying the moment and the company of each other.
We have already taken a sip of this non-whisky drink, and soon will have proper notes on WhiskyWorship and LovingWhisky. Many thanks to Henk for sending us the bottle – keep an eye out in the village of Nes for this distilled spirit minded couple looking for your distillery, we will definitely come by for a visit some day.
Thomas & Ansgar