While I primarily write about Belgium’s great beers and beer culture, when the opportunity arises, I do enjoy artisanal liquors. With a number of Belgian breweries, such as Pirlot, Craywinckelhof, and Wilderen now also having distilleries, the opportunities to indulge, and research artisanal spirits, have been frequent during my last several trips to Belgium.
Brouwerij Het Anker of Mechelen added a distillery in 2010, in a historic old building dating to 1637 that had been owned by Charles Leclef’s uncle. Leclef, the owner of Het Anker, bought the home, called the Molenberg, in 2008 and began renovations on it. The “Stokerij,” which is an old Dutch word for distillery, has as its heart two copper kettles made by Forsyths of Scotland.
Hence, Stokerij De Molenberg is a whisky maker. The first whisky will be offered to the public after three years and one day on barrel, which will be in early December 2013. Every barrel is marked with the year the spirits were placed in it, and the distillery location: a very classy touch.
The distillery is located in Blaasveld, a small town about eight km/five miles from Brouwerij Het Anker. In fact, the Van Breedam family, Leclef’s ancestors, produced spirits on the exact same spot: “The malting of barley, mashing, fermentation and distillation was in the same buildings, from 1637 to 1927,” Leclef commented.
“We will make this site into a visitor’s center, where you can learn about the whisky making process, have a taste in our tasting room, and even buy whisky and beer,” Hans Rubens, Het Anker’s Sales and Marketing Manager, told me during a tour in mid-December. In early September 2013, Rubens advised that the Stokerij De Molenberg Vistor’s Center will open in spring, 2014.
Het Anker owner Charles Leclef said: “I designed the copper kettles for the space that was available and for our wishes about spirit specifications. It took about 4 months from the time I ordered the kettles for them to be made and delivered by Forsyths.” He added: “Global investment in the distillery project will be over 2 million euros.”