As you have been reading since I settled here in Brussels, I’ve been hunting for whisky bars, shops, and whisky whatever I can find. It’s been a tug of war with myself since the unusually beautiful Belgian Spring, summery, isn’t my usual mood for enjoying whisky. Plus, since leaving my bottles packed away, my selection is also very limited to just a handful, previously, now down to a dwindling three. And beer, especially the sour ones, lambic and geuze, have jumped into the front seat, perhaps cause they match this weather so perfectly, and they’re native to the area.
But a few recent hunts have rewarded my whisky passion greatly! Not only have I gotten to meet some social network whisky friends, I’ve gotten the opportunity to explore and taste lots of new whiskies. It hasn’t been easy, I’ve had to travel, by foot, metro, train, and car out of Brussels to find these unbelievable whisky outposts hosted by these fellow passionate water of life ambassadors.
First up was that first June weekend where those leftover days of Easter holiday’ed the country, and a trip to meet Jurgen in Zottegem and his “Open Days” was a must. Over those 4 days, Thursday the 2nd of June through Sunday the 5th, Jurgen offered free samplings from over 150 open bottles, and a small fee for the pricier, special bottlings. Jurgen’s Whiskyhuis stocks over a 1,000 different whiskies, a few other spirits too, and on those “Open Days” he discounted them all. This is, literally, Jurgen’s “huis,” almost a 4km walk from the Zottegem train station, (about a 40 minute train ride from the Central Station in Brussels). From there I decided to walk rather than hassle waiting for a bus maybe taking me further away from my goal. I finally wandered down a somewhat country road, fields surrounding it, people working on their cars, where peace and quiet met expanses of said fields and an impressive stock of whiskies from mostly independent bottlers awaited me. Introducing myself, Jurgen happily poured me maybe 15 samples on my visit, from bottlers I had never tasted before. I had a difficult time deciding upon which bottles to purchase, which bottles to share in the private whisky tasting I was hosting the following night.
I guess it’s appropriate to travel out of the cities to find whisky, since most whiskies are produced out of the cities. It’s just a surprise to me to find such collections and available bottles in these small spots of Belgium, rather than in its capital city.
Next time I’ll tell you about my visit to Kortemark, an even smaller destination, even further from Brussels.