Friday the 13th, 2018. A day people seemed to handle with extra care, avoiding dangerous situations, seeing ladders as serious death threats and black cats as fierce mountain lions. Many doomsday scenarios were composed fitting any Guillermo del Toro silver screen adventure.
On this very day we decided to travel to Bunnik, a little town in the heart of the Netherlands just outside the old city of Utrecht. Here, we would find a flock of sheep holding a four leaf clover for good luck and a message that the Irish were coming…
We were invited by Dennis Hendriks and Jan Iedema at the (semi-)official kick-off of their company Red sheep Black sheep. The exact story behind their brand is kept in the dark for the moment, and knowing them a little, it may be healthier for our imagination to keep it clad in a shroud of (Irish) mist. Dennis and Jan have been active whisky ambassadors for years, and have grown into organising activities surrounding any spirit drink, accompanied by fast paced storytelling, humorous in-depth tastings, serious consultancy and high level training.
During their years in the business they, as with many others, had primarily focussed on Scotch whisky when they realised there was a gap in the Dutch market where the growing landscape of Irish whiskey distilleries would perfectly fit.
The evening of the thirteenth was therefore all about Irish whiskey, homemade Guinness bread and a variation of bites, Irish music (without the tormenting of said black cat), laughter and anecdotes… All in all, the small group of friends and acquaintances were to be treated to a good time, gathered around a large table with an array of different sized and shaped glassware.
We were first served with a sip of Poitin to get the palate working, followed by a short introduction of the Irish distilling history accompanied by a “boilermaker” with Guinness and a shot of Tullamore Dew. A rather decent six year old single grain from Hyde was up after that, while we were listening to a comprehensive explanation of the differences in production between the Irish whiskey and their Scottish kin.
The new Túath glass the “sheep” are importing into the Netherlands in cooperation with Tasting Company, was filled with a Teeling Rum Cask finish, with the same amount poured of that whiskey in a Spey glass to nose and taste the difference. The Túath glass is something else than most other glasses we know, and we have aquired one to do a comparison soon, to see if the Túath glass stands out amongst the vast range of different glasses available.
The well known and loved Redbreast 12 went around, and a slightly peated Dunville’s Three Crowns was poured next as a pleasant surprise. A varied line up of single malts, single pot still and single grain whiskeys, but also Irish blends which differ quite a bit from, again, their Scottish cousins. If the lineup wasn’t enough yet, they opened a Writer’s Tears Red Head, and shared a range of special bottlings they had brought from the Jameson distillery.
Our trip to Bunnik confirmed what we already knew, the Irish have a great series of products, which will only grow in the years to come. No longer liaised to any importers or distributors, with Irish whiskey as the latest addition to their already vast knowledge about alcoholic beverages, Independent Black sheep Red sheep are available to tell you everything you want and need to know.
Thomas & Ansgar
Photos by WhiskySpeller