In Greek mythology, the owl carries two symbols: knowledge (γνώση) and wisdom (σοφία). Knowledge for distilling The Belgian Owl and wisdom for tasting it.
pictures: Vangelis Patsialos
There are several things that pass through my mind whenever I hear the word: Belgium. Tasty ale beers, amazing traditional breweries, charming villages, delicious chocolates, awesome waffles, quality organic food, huge royal gardens, outstanding castles and so many museums in the heart of Brussels or Liege. Of course Belgians are very famous for their jenever production (and consumption). But would you think of whisky ? A Belgian whisky? Well, I didn’t. Until the day that we drove through the peaceful beautiful village of Fexhe-le-Haut-Clocher in our search for “The Belgian Owl“.
We stepped out of the car. I took a deep breath while Vangelis grabbed his Nikon camera to take some pictures. I came close to a big, wooden, green door trying to find a doorbell or something.
– “You are not going to find anybody in there”, said the man in a deep, firm voice. He was Pierre Roberti, a seven generations of farmers expert in growing barley. One of the two most important raw materials in whisky production. The second is water, which in the case of The Belgian Owl comes from Hesbaye, an area protected by both the Wallonia Region and the European Union. Mr Roberti invited us to step on his land and feel the wind blowing his fresh, green spring barley. After our small conversation he guided us through the cellar and then he helped us enter the address for the distillery in our GPS.
Five minutes later, we were welcomed by the distiller, a man full of passion: Etienne Bouillon. And guess what: He was in the middle of the distilling process, so we were able to admire two big old portable pot stills and taste the second run coming out of the still. Obviously, we could not miss the opportunity to taste the whole series of his amazing single malt whiskies, taking us a trip from the floral notes of the un-aged spirit to the delicate, full, vanilla and fruity aromas of the 3 and 4 years old matured spirit.
It was only 12:00 in the morning, when we had to leave “The Owl Distillery” but we had all of our taste buds in full action…