Zeppelin Bend Straight Malt Whiskey – Distiller: New Holland Spirits. ABV: 45%. Age: 3+ years. Grain bill: 100% 2-row malted barley. Price: $40.
Pitchfork Wheat Whiskey – Distiller: New Holland Spirits. ABV: 45%. Age: 18 months. Mashbill: 80% wheat, 20% 6-row barley. Price: $40.
I love new discoveries. New Holland Spirits in Holland, Michigan, is the distilling branch of the craft beer brewery of the same name, known for the delicious Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout–a 98 on Ratebeer, for what it’s worth. When I learned they were distilling spirits too, I had to see what they were up to.
I’ll cut to the chase: what they’re up to is making seriously good whiskey. They provide an admirable level of detail and transparency about their distilling process on their website, and provided more when I asked. These guys mean business.
The Zeppelin Bend is a straight malt (it qualifies as a single malt too, and they may market it as one in the future) made with 2-row malted barley primarily from Canadian Malting. It’s twice pot-distilled, and aged at least 3years in full-sized, 53-gallon new American oak barrels with No. 3 char. No shortcuts taken, and it shows.
The Zeppelin has a rich creamy nose of white chocolate, tropical fruits, and yeasty pot still malt. There’s nougat and dry oak spice on the palate, then coffee. Lots of it. Excellent integration of spice and fruit on the finish. Stands up to the best American single malts I’ve had.
The Pitchfork Wheat is distilled from all local Michigan grain, 80% wheat and 20% 6-row barley. It’s aged an average of 18 months in 25-gallon casks of new American oak with heavy char. It has a clear family resemblance with the Zeppelin Bend in spite of the difference in recipes. There’s beery sweetness on the nose, with some banana and dry cocoa. The palate recalls pecan sandies, with more pronounced new oak flavor than the Zeppelin had. Light spice on the finish.
All in all, I’d call the Pitchfork Wheat promising, while the Zeppelin Bend is out and out delicious. Don’t hesitate to try either if you get the chance.
Final note: New Holland is about to release a 10-year-old Zeppelin in November 2015. I, for one, can’t wait. Cheers, friends! – BO
New Holland graciously provided samples for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.