Oak is the connecting factor
Whisky lover or not: when you talk to Gerard Velthuis you are immediately infected by his enthusiasm. He is the founder of a distillery, Stokerij Sculte in Twente, where they work exclusively with wooden barrels of Dutch origin. The barrels impart beautiful characteristic flavours to their whiskies which have been awarded with international prizes. These quality products come with a packaging that presents the whisky in an authentic and powerful way.
"I just want to create things," says Velthuis. With a background in the world of advertising, that's not really a surprise. "In Austria, I came into contact with the distillation of fruit. What a beautiful and pure process! That inspired me to create something pure, based on what nature gives. Don't add anything and make a wonderful drink.” After distilling fruit spirits, an authentic whisky emerged. "It took some time, but now we have a number of beautiful whiskies to our name", Velthuis adds.
It’s a puzzle
Stokerij Sculte's distillates mature in barrels made of local wood, i.e. Twenthe wood. Velthuis: "That's quite a puzzle. I wanted a whiskey with its own character, matured in its own barrels. It's a process that will always keep you busy. Of course, it's a little absurd how meticulous we are about the wood, but it's a lot of fun for me. Besides that, the work and testing wasn't all for nothing, because we've managed to create some award-winning whiskies.”
Velthuis pre-selects the wood that is used to make the barrels: "Every year, we buy an oak tree that's about 250 years old. As soon as we've made the pre-selection of the wood to be used, it is shipped to Austria. That's where the cooperage I work with is located and where they continue the selection process with the wood. The barrels are then virtually made by hand. Part of the waste wood from the same tree is used to burn out the barrels. There is no gas burner involved! 70 to 80% of the taste of the whisky is determined by the wood. For me, it makes sense to be so diligent with the wood. I'm proud to be the first in the world to use Dutch wood and that it also gives it such a fantastic characteristic taste...”
Working with people with passion
When you work on something so passionately, you only want to work with people who have the same passion for their own profession. Velthuis, for example, chose a small cooperage for a good reason: "It's almost like a museum, a real pleasure to visit. Our barrels are made by a father and his two sons. The process we use is far too cumbersome for a large company, but we don't have to worry about that. Our cooperage doesn't look at how much the barrels cost, but at how they can get the best aromas. Everyone I work with is passionate about what they do, whatever their role in the process.
"The packaging is very important to us," says Velthuis. "I think the bottle should sit on wood. The holders containing the bottles of whisky are made of oak, just like our barrels. This particular wood is very important. In addition, it was a deliberate choice, for example, to burn the logo into the wooden packaging, as a link to our burnt-out barrels. It made sense to me to include wood in the packaging, to choose the material that is close to our product. I would never have chosen plastic packaging.”
Collaboration with Krepel
Velthuis knew Krepel from the time he worked in advertising: "I am impressed by how they make their products. When you sit around the table with Krepel you notice their love for wooden packaging. That suits us exactly. Their passion is as great as ours. This means that you can inspire each other and make beautiful things together, where oak is the connecting factor.”