Mwórveld Whiskey: Inspired by Ireland, Made in Limburg

Published on 25 May 2023 at 22:18

Map code: (NL-MWO, no.093)

In the sunny south Limburg countryside (in the southern Netherlands) only a stone's throw from Belgium, Ger Arts makes a unique single malt.His distillery, Mwórveld, started with 24 founding funders, and their whiskeys are released in batches, simply named in order of production: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth. That last one is coming in mid-August 2023! 


Mwórveld production ranges across many different spirits, but whiskey is key. Ger estimates that in 2024, around ¾ of the distillery's income will derive from its whiskies. His other products include gin, barrel-aged genever, 'Tuur' grappa (made from Dutch grape varieties) and an apple brandy made from 18 kinds of local apple and aged in 100-250L new American oak. 


Ger also makes a drink where plums are fermented using a mixture of wild yeast and Mwórveld's own, after which the plums are macerated in grain alcohol, some of which is distilled and mixed back into the barrel. Ever heard of anything like that? Ger also does a lot of contract distilling, so he's a busy guy!


Every Mwórveld whiskey is a single malt at 49% ABV, with no coloring or chill filtering. The fact that Ger's main inspiration for whiskey-making is Ireland and not Scotland means that Mwórveld whiskey is spelled the Irish way. He sums up his ethos as…


“What we always try to do is complexity.”


Ger is very open about how Mwórveld works, but he has 2 firm secrets: his gin recipe, and the yeast used for his whiskey! He will, however, say that this yeast was selected two years ago, so the new batches created using it will only be released from 2025 onwards. We'll have to wait to see what that does to the flavour…


Mwórveld batches are small but growing. Early batches of only 200 bottles have grown to 800, and with some coming expansion, Mwórveld batches should hit 3000 bottles. 3000 bottles per year is *only* eight barrels-full at Mwórveld, to give you an idea of ​​scale. Ger's first peated batch should be coming along in 2024. Still relatively small, but an impressive growth rate nonetheless!


Brewing & Distilling

Ger's emphasis on yeast being a secret relates to his belief in the importance of brewing. The first step in making any whiskey is brewing, and yet that's so easily passed over as people focus on stills and barrels. Mwórveld mash actually ferments at nearby brewery De Fontein in 2000L batches.


Mwórveld's barley comes from all over Europe, including Ukraine, though Ger notes that his recent visit to Waterford has made him reconsider the potential of different barley varieties and sources. He also cites Klein Amerika distillery (located just outside the far northern edge of Limburg) as inspiration; they grow some of their own barley. 


Ger's 250L still was handmade in the Czech Republic by Kovodel . The distillery's style of malt is generally mild, coming from a single distillation through a column. Using one of the three plates in this copper column, Mwórveld spirit comes off the still at around 70% ABV and goes into barrels at 63%. The distillation is fairly slow - while it could be done in two and half hours, Ger normally slows this to five and a half. 


Walking into the still room, I was surrounded by an all-suffusing aroma - the closest thing I can compare it to is strawberry yoghurt! It wasn't whiskey running through the still at that point - Ger was busy making a batch of apple brandy. Still, a gorgeous smell and unlike any distillery I've been in before!



The key to aging Mwórveld whiskey is Ger's range of sherry barrels: PX, Oloroso, Palo Cortado, Moscatel. He does also use ex-bourbon and wines like Port and Madeira - even a Russian imperial stout cask. However, sherry seems to be a real key to Mwórveld's style.


The 'First' was aged in bourbon and PX, the 2nd in bourbon and Oloroso. The 'Fifth' used the same barrel types as the Second, only being aged for 2 years more and married together differently. The soon-to-be-released 'Sixth' uses a promising mix of red wine and bourbon casks…


The angels' share in southern Limburg is 3-4% - higher than Scotland but nothing drastic. Ger says that even when it hits near 40C outside, the old building which houses the distillery only tops out at 25C inside.


Ger is interested in the possibility of using local oak, but Limburg's local trees are less than ideal unfortunately. The way oak grows in the area (climate, variety etc.) produces a large open grain - nice for woodworking, but weaker and less watertight for barrels. Even if these oak barrels don't leak outright, the angels' share increases alarmingly. Combine that with the fact such barrels have to be made specially, and are therefore most easily available in smaller sizes which also encourage faster evaporation… and it's less than ideal to work with!

As whiskeys from Stokerij Sculte show, Dutch oak can produce great flavors - it just needs a lot of selection and care to work practically! And even then, it becomes very expensive… Ger doesn't rule out local oak for some finishing or marriage into larger batches, but you shouldn't expect the Mwórveld 'Seventh' to be Dutch oak matured.



I had the chance to taste the Fourth (no longer available) and the Fifth . The Fourth combines bourbon and PX casks of Mwórveld malt (in a 60/40 split) which are then married in Oloroso for a further five months. I loved this malt - the longer I nosed it, the more the initial vanilla aroma faded to be replaced by rich PX notes. The finish also developed from a light initial malt to a richer, lingering finish. The PX flavor kept growing with a tingling spice and hints of a Penderyn-esque buttery fruit aroma. 


After a while, it dawned on me - I was smelling the same strawberry yoghurt aroma I had melted earlier in the still room! The apple brandy and whiskey don't use the same yeasts apparently, but something was running through both as a distinct Mwórveld aroma. Combined with the light tannins from the Oloroso, it creates a complex effect which for me personally really hit the spot.


The Fifth also combines bourbon and PX casks, but in opposite proportions (40/60) and without the Oloroso finish. This one also developed, but it didn't have the same depth or richness without that Oloroso. The fifth is a more subtle and streamlined dram than the fourth. The main tasting note for me was very specific - if you've ever had a Dale Farm Joker , the light and zingy orange notes of this dram will be familiar to you!


For a small distillery, Mwórveld is very visitor-friendly. Every Friday evening, Mwórveld hosts tours and a tasting at the distillery, featuring their own whiskey alongside complementary malts such as (the week before I visited) Old Pulteney. There's also a small restaurant immediately adjacent to the distillery and a B&B down the road. Both are their own enterprises, but it all makes for a well-integrated visitor experience.


Can't wait to discover more small but quality distilleries like this across the Netherlands! Look out for their whiskey in future Euro Whiskey sample packs/tastings.

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