Hogshead Imports

Last week I posted an article on this blog about Spheric Spirits, where I mentioned Toon and his company “Hogshead Imports” several times. There was good reason for this, as Toon is their Global Brand Ambassador. But the best thing about Hogshead Imports is that it doesn’t stop at Spheric Spirits. He also imports and distributes several other amazing brands, creating an awe-inspiring portfolio of exciting whiskies, for us dram adventurers to explore.

Toon, the dram adventurer

Toon founded Hogshead Imports on the firm belief that the epic stories behind some of the world’s most wonderful drams, are all too often brushed over or passed by. The chapters of a whisky. Filled with the passion, love, and joy that we find in our glasses today. Tales that can guide whisky lovers, into a magical universe full of whisky producers with a true love for the dram. It was his dream, that these tales could be heard. To find likeminded importers, who would help him spread the word. So, he set the wheels in motion. And the dreams have started to work.

His first love for whisky, came from trying peated whiskies. Where his heart used to lay with Ardbeg. But as he experienced more, he started to wander through the categories. Trying sherried malts, but also light and fruity Highland drams. He tried out some Bourbon, Irish Whiskey, and through Benedict he also fell in love with Old School Scotch.

The Hybrid

He started Hogshead Imports by importing some amazing bottles from the Uncharted Whisky Co., where he brings whiskies such as “Smoke on The Water” – a 23-year-old Laphroaig – and “The Charming Dram” – a 13-year-old GlenAllachie – to The Netherlands. For Spheric Spirits instead of importing he focuses on laying a foundation between them and international importers as their Global Brand Ambassador. For other companies he provides a more hybrid solution, importing whisky alongside promoting their brand.

I’ve noticed that by now, I’ve mentioned Toon a lot. With good enough reason though, he is the man behind Hogshead Imports after all. But in our interview Toon made it very clear he did not want to become the face of his brand. Hogshead Imports isn’t about him personally, but about the brands he represents. When people think of Hogshead Imports, he wants them to think of the beautiful products, that he helps bring to the world. So, let’s move on to some of those whiskies, shall we?

Uncharted Whisky Co.

I mentioned them shortly already, as the first act of business for Hogshead Imports was importing bottles from the Uncharted Whisky Company. An independent whisky bottler, from Fintry, Scotland. Who release tiny batches of weird, wonderful and extraordinary whisky. At the Uncharted Whisky Co. they don’t adhere to a set schedule – the whisky is ready when it’s ready – which means some of their stock sells out real fast. If you want to secure yourself a bottle in the Netherlands, you’ll find it in stores that buy it straight from Hogshead Imports.

Spheric Spirits

I will keep this one nice and short. Not because it’s not worth the mention, but because it’s amazing enough to already have an article of his own. You can check it out here: Spheric Spirits

Chapter 7

This award-winning independent bottler produces literature inspired whisky. How is that for whisky telling a tale? On their own website they state that “whisky is like a character in a novel – the best ones tug at your heart and stay with you”. A view very much in line with the Hogshead’s own. They sell exceptional whiskies at affordable prices. For example: How does a 21-year-old Secret Highland at 53% ABV, with no added colour and no chill filtration, for roughly € 125 euro, sound? Hogshead Imports is importing Chapter 7 for the entire Benelux.

Ferg and Harris

For Ferg and Harris, Hogshead Imports gets to ship their products to any country worldwide, where they don’t already have a distributor of their own. Which means Toon has been sending pallets to Germany, Belgium, and recently he even shipped to Japan!

Ferg and Harris’s philosophy is to bottle single cask whiskies, which they have paired with different wood finishes. They created this pairing process to make some amazingly high standard drams. They’re always looking to find the wood finish that is best suited to add another layer to a whisky, in a beautiful and harmonious way. And seeing as to how well those bottles are selling, I think we can conclude they’re doing it well.

Hidden Spirits

Being able to import Hidden Spirits came to Toon as a big surprise. As it’s already a big name in the industry, and very much sought after, he was shocked that there were no importers in the Netherlands yet. You don’t have to give Toon a chance like that twice, and he got in touch with them as fast as he could.

Hidden Spirits was founded by Andrea Ferrari, and acts as an independent bottler and online whisky shop. They get their bottle designs from different Italian designers and the liquid inside are all cask strength single cask whiskies of at least 8 years old. They take the greatest care in selecting their barrels, which resulted in the release of some absolutely stellar whiskies.

Vintage Bottlers

For the interview Toon invited me to his parents dining establishment “t Zotte Lemke” in Nijmegen (NL). A warm and charismatic place, with a sense of days long gone, which houses an impressive selection of whiskies of course. During the interview Toon poured me two drams from Vintage Bottlers. A 26-year-old Ben Nevis and a 21-year-old Port Charlotte. And I was simply blown away by the quality of these drams. If you ever get the chance to try one of these, don’t let it pass you by!

The team behind Vintage Bottlers spent months travelling in Scotland, throughout the years. To get to know the industry and to build relationships with the people who make our beloved drink. This allowed them to acquire some truly exceptional casks and when I think back on the drams I tasted, I can tell they know their business very well. The liquid in their bottles is truly exceptional.

DS Tayman

DS Tayman is an Independent Bottler who made it its philosophy to keep good quality whisky approachable. To that extent they don’t sell anything over 60 euro. Still, they only work with named distilleries. With age statements. And with interesting cask finishes. Like Shiraz barrels from Israel. Their approach suited Hogshead Imports perfectly, as Toon can enjoy a 10-year-old whisky that’s well put together as much as a much more high-end dram. He thinks it’s important to keep good quality affordable, and with DS Tayman he has surely added that to his repertoire.

One last thing

Even though we took the spotlight away from Toon a bit with the last few paragraphs, it feels right to put it back on him a bit for this last little bit. As mentioned in the section about DS Tayman, Toon wants to keep the exceptional whiskies he imports as affordable as possible. For Toon this is not empty promotional talk either, he takes an exceptional low margin on the whiskies he distributes to that extent. I think it’s a real show of character, and in his pricing his whisky loving heart truly shines through. And Toon, to you directly I will say: The world of whisky is a better place with passionate people in it like you. Don’t ever stop telling us their stories!

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