Gert, can you tell us how you started out?
We have an arable farm in the north of the Netherlands, in the provence of Drente. And as an amateur beer brewer, I thought it would be awesome to start using our own barley for beer production. When we got the beer making process figured out, some 10 years down the road, it was time for the next step.
Is that when you started DenHool Single Malt Whisky?
Yes, after 10 year’s we were up for a new challenge: to use our own barley to make whisky. There were only a few Dutch whiskies out there and the market was growing.
I started by building a small still myself. Just because I wanted to learn more about the process. After that we had two batches made by a third party distillery, using our grain. Again, with the aim to learn more. These batches we had judged by others. Based on the positive feedback we decided to go ahead and to start producing single malt whisky professionally.
What is your philosophy? Your approach?
The goal was to make everything in-house. From grain to glass. The independence from others and the influence we could assert ourselves on the brewing and distillation process were important factors if for no other that they allow us to be completely transparent about our spirits production process.
So … you needed a professional still?
Yes, and it proved to be a difficult journey! Buying a still, at least when we started looking into it, didn’t seem very easy. The first step we took, is that we investigated online. We then visited Holstein, in Germany. We asked for quotations from still manufacturers based in both Germany and the Czech Republic. And then we found out about iStill.
What made you choose iStill?
- In comparison to – especially – the German still manufacturers, iStill offered great value for money
- iStill being a Dutch company, just like we are, invoked additional trust
- Odin’s knowledge about whisky distilling and his willingness to share his expertise with us freely was very important
Why do you want to sell your iStill 250? Why did you purchase a new iStill 500 NextGen?
Our whisky production is growing. We feel that the new, bigger iStill helps us distill more whisky in less time. But there is more. Especially the brewing part of the whisky production is quite time consuming and labor intensive. The iStill 500 NextGen now helps us mash as well, limiting bottle-necks and optimizing our production process. The unit is bigger and more versatile. And if we are ever in need of more fermentation capacity, the iStill 500 NextGen can do that as well. Last, but not least, the new unit has the capacity to distill on the grain, for more taste transfer into our final product.
How do you see the future? Where will DenHool Whisky stand in 5 years from now?
It is difficult to foresee the future. Much depends on how the market for whisky will develop. It is booming now, but will that continue forever? Who knows.
So far, we are happy to beef-up production. And if the whisky market keeps on growing, our next step is to further enlarge our production capacity. If it does not, we’ll probably change to genever or rum. The bottom-line will always be that we’ll want all the products to be made on our farm.