17 January 2013

Whisky Insiders Interview - Patrick van Zuidam

Zuidam Distillers
Distiller & Managing Director

How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I have been working in our family distillery since I was 12 years old, so that makes it about 30 years. Though we were not distilling whisky back then.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
I have to say for a small artisanal family distillery we have been blessed with many lovely highlights. Last year specially was a super year when every product we entered in any competition was awarded either a Best in Class or Gold medal.
It was super to win ‘Best European Whisky’ in Dominic Roskrow’s Whisky Wizards competition for our Millstone Malt Whisky 12 YO Sherry cask expression. But if pressed I would probably chose: Winning a Gold medal / Best in Class for our Millstone 100 Rye Whisky at the International Spirits Challenge last year.
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I cannot remember what my first dram was, but it probably was a genever and not a whisky.
What does whisky mean to you?
Distilling is my life and passion. Distilling is in my blood and my genes. I grew up in a distillery and my life has always been dedicated to creating the best products I can only so to improve them next year.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Same place I am now only making even better products.
What was your last dram?
Suntory Hibiki 21 Year Old, one of the best whiskies in the world. I know everybody always says they drank their own products last, but I try to taste as many products as I can, that have been made by other great distillers. So I can learn from them and perfect my own skills.
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
My Millstone malt whisky 12 Year Old sherry cask combined with old Gouda cheese on dark rye bread. The sweetness of the sherry casks works perfectly well with the saltiness of the cheese and the rye bread.
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Whenever, as long as it’s with friends!
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
Whisky distilled from multiple grains where the master distiller choses the grains to create a harmony perfected with the right yeast and the perfect casks.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
The next one I am going to create… I love working on new and exciting recipes. The whole process is fascinating from the selection of the grain, the gentle fermentation, the slow distillation to choosing the right casks for this part particular spirit.
Many thanks to Patrick van Zuidam. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!