Before you ask, the answer is no, it’s not related to the tractor company. Or the rock band. Don’t be embarrassed, neither of those questions would have been uncalled for, considering the name of the product. Behold, Zeppelin Bend straight malt whiskey, distilled by New Holland Brewing, which is undoubtedly better known for the beer brewed there. Certainly the beer is much easier to come by – living in Columbus, Ohio I have yet to see any of their artisan liquors on a shelf in my state. I picked this up in Michigan for $65, after seeing it on several different visits to the state and much personal debate. I believe what finally sold me on it was the clearly hand-written neck tag, which tells me this is barrel number 8-11, bottle number 42 of 930, and bottled on 8/19/11 (and is also signed by the distiller).
When considering the appearance of this whiskey, I have to start with the bottle. The label is screen-printed on with what feels like high quality gold paint. I realize the exterior has nothing to do with the whiskey itself, but I can’t help but be impressed when I run my hand over the design and admire the artwork. The whiskey pours lighter than many, a clear gold color that reminds me a little of apple juice (not very well reflected in the picture – it looks darker there than it actually is).
On the nose, there is a lot of spice (clove and cinnamon), with an undertone of a sweet vanilla-honey. A tiny hint of oak barrel peeks through at the end. The taste reminds me a bit of a rye whiskey – spicy and dry on the palate. Somewhat light, there’s a burst of hot, woody sweetness before it dissipates. Not the smoothest whiskey I’ve ever had, but easy drinking, and special enough that I wouldn’t want to mix it with anything. It finished quickly, leaving behind only the faintest of tingles on the tongue.
Overall a nice whiskey, good for relaxing on a warm evening. Seems a bit pricey for what it is, but worth trying at least once. The quality of both spirit and bottle seem to indicate that New Holland puts a great deal of pride into what they distill.