"I just had eighteen whiskies. I think that's the record," Welsh writer and die-hard drinker Dylan Thomas is reported to have said. 18 so. On a November evening, three friends set out to break this record. There are 33 bottles on the table. You want to drink your way through the range of German whiskeys in the next few hours. Why German of all things? Well, we owe the liquid gold to the Scots or the Irish, but this is still a matter of debate. In return, the distilleries in this country are now making a real effort to catch up on what they have missed for a few centuries. And they are good. The German distilleries are winning one prize after the next with their whiskeys and are preparing to compete with the traditional brands - not in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality. Hence this tasting.
It is drunk from nosing glasses. Bread and coffee powder are available to neutralize the senses, as well as spring water to dilute and rinse. The tasting notes were withheld. All three are whiskey amateurs, at least two of them drink it regularly. The tested bottles are randomly selected. A tasting evening with ups and downs between cheese feet and wow effects.
Tick: "Phew. Hello to the auto repair shop. That immediately gives you a homely feeling of cellar rot, grease and rubber. (Spits out the whiskey again.) Tastes like you're sucking on a car tire. Where's the bread, where's the water ?"
Trick: "Crazy enough, I think it's quite good. Smells almost like mezcal, slightly musty, spicy. But develops a sweetness in the mouth. And smoky."
Two are stunned.
Track: "Oah, no. Really? It's totally hot and very peaty. So for me, as a non-whisky drinker, it's nothing. It's almost chemical. Away with it."
Colour: Amber Nose: Very fruity-fresh style, saccharified grain, smoked malty grain, apple, pear, green walnuts, tonka bean, green-nutty wood, strong iodine-peaty-smoky, petrol, hints of bitumen, hay-herbal, some honey .Palate: Powerful dominance of wood, lean grain-malt base, most intense smoked malt, dark chocolate, apple-peary, smoky-cabbage-like, peaty, strong iodine, oily-fatty, green nuts, green barrel notes, very straightforward, subtle density and length , a bit unbalanced.
Tick: "Similar. Not mine. A kind of ash-dust layer settles directly on the palate. Peat properly. Brrrr."
Trick: "Cleaning agent association. It's like, wait a minute, a dry-rinse urinal."
Tick: "I can't have a say."
Trick: "It burns at the top. There's something fruity, a hint of citrus. I like it."
Track: "It's lighter and more drinkable than the other one. (Pushes the glass aside.) But the chemical turns me off."
Colour: sunny yellow Nose: powerful bonds to smoked malt bourbon cask storage, with maritime character, subtle vanilla and leathery Palate: Straight transition on the palate, immediately typically peaty, followed by phenol, iodine, coal and ash and this very maritime character, then Vanilla with a slight sweetness and dark chocolate, very good density. length in the aftertaste.
Finch Whiskydestillerie Hans-Gerhard Fink
The Finch whiskey distillery takes one award after the next. Finch is Master Class Distillery 2022 and thus again the best whiskey distillery in the Worldwide Whiskey category at the World Spirits Awards. In total, Finch picked up four gold medals and one silver medal at the awards. Finch also produces other spirits such as gin, vodka, rum and spirits.
Track: "I think of forest..."
Trick: "Yes, smells like forest floor, moss. Has something fresh."
Number three takes a first sip, startled in surprise.
Tick: "Uiuiui. It's pretty sweet in comparison, strong vanilla aromas."
Trick: "Oh yes, that's almost liqueur. Much too sweet for me, almost artificially sweet."
Track: "What was the name of that disgusting vanilla deodorant from before? It goes in that direction. But it also burns in the mouth a lot."
Colour: Reddish, chestnut-colored Nose: Incredibly warm, intense smell of dark berries, raisins, biscuit, vanilla and dark chocolate. Palate: Elegant and exquisite, mild despite the cask strength. A complex, harmonious bouquet of the finest aromas such as vanilla, raisins, caramel, chocolate biscuit and cocoa. Long-lasting finish with subtle sweetness and notes of caramel and chocolate.
Finch Whiskydestillerie Hans-Gerhard Fink
Tick: "Oh yes, there comes the scent of grain, of wheat."
Track: "It definitely smells fine. That's wheat, isn't it? Isn't emmer this ancient grain?"
Trick: "I also think of grain fields, late summer and sun. It also tastes slightly strawy, but surprisingly unspectacular."
Track: "Has kinda little specific taste of its own, yeah."
Tick: "But it lies almost velvety on the palate and leaves a pleasantly warm feeling. It burns almost softly. I find it very pleasant. You can drink it in the afternoon for a relaxed buzz."
Trick: "It's nice. I'd drink it with my beer in the pub."
Track: "Just because of the smell I like it best so far."
Track: "I think I have to go to bed soon."
Trick: "You already have very red cheeks."
Tick: "Um, we've only tried four."
Color: Copper Nose: Ripe fruit and dark grapes. In addition spices, vanilla and gentle wood aromas.Palate: Full-bodied and mild on the tongue. A complex sweetness of caramel, toffee and vanilla combines with fine spices and raisins. Long lasting and warm with a lingering sweetness.
Sauerland fine distillery
In addition to whiskey, the Sauerland distillery also produces spirits and brandies. liqueurs and more. The products have received many awards. Among other things, the Mc Raven Single Malt, which is stored in red wine and bourbon barrels, won silver at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2015 at the first attempt.
Track: "A caramel smell, soft, delicious."
Trick: "Mhm, sweet. Vanilla, sherry cask maybe."
Tick: "Well balanced in taste, peaty, but doesn't overwhelm you right away. Good."
Trick: "Peat! That's surprising. Well balanced, spicy. But no, it kind of sticks bitterly on the palate."
Track: "I think it's really good. I'll drink it up now. It's lighter."
Track: "I have to say goodbye right now."
Color: Natural amber Nose: Intense scent of vanilla, malt and fresh fruit. It unfolds several times with other nuances. Give it time.Palate: The taste shows a slight sweetness of marzipan paired with a fine, peppery spiciness, plus aromas of dark fruits, oak, vanilla and dark chocolate.
Sauerland fine distillery
Tick: "Nice. Conifer. Spruce?!"
Trick: "Mountain pine. Or pine wood. But definitely also have Riesling in my nose, something fruity."
Track: "It's definitely woody, but somehow also the smell of harvest, right?"
Everyone takes a first sip.
Trick: WOW, NOW WE ARE TALKING! Der ist rund.
Tick: "Really round. There's nothing that comes with a wooden hammer. Nice drop."
Track:"But it also has something sweet..."
Tick: "Yes, dried fruit. Apple or something."
Track: "It expands very softly and pleasantly in the mouth."
Trick: "Well, the first sip comes with Krawumm, but that aftertaste, what's that? resin?
Tick: "Phew, definitely a bitter note.
Trick: "Spectacular part!"
Six whiskeys in less than an hour. It's a sprint, although a marathon was planned. That doesn't make sense. But you shouldn't stop drinking, or how was that? The first signs of failure are noticeable. A tester is already saying goodbye to bed again and again, but then remains seated at the table. Testers two and three are still in good spirits and are working with vigor to neutralize the nose and palate.
Track: "Now we could serve this Black Forest with the ghetto look, right?"
Trick: "Wait a minute. Although, a zig would be counterproductive now, wouldn't it?"
Colour: yellow-gold Nose: forest honey, vanilla, roasted hazelnut Palate: malty sweetness, subtle apple, light oiliness
The traditional Black Forest distillery Wild produces its brandies mainly from home-grown fruit. The portfolio includes gin, vermouth, rum, vodka and of course whiskey. The Blackforest Wild Whiskey 2019 snatched gold at the Meininger International Spirits Award and received the special award as the best whiskey in Germany.
Tick: "I'm kinda more into dried fruit and cider."
Track: "It has a very nice, almost red color. And I'm definitely into fruit and vanilla aromas. It also tastes tart-sweet, almost a bit too sweet at the first sip."
Trick: "Yeah, but it's too sweet for me again. I taste tart, dry fruit notes and malt. A light smoke upwards in the finish."
Tick: "Aha. I'm also on the smoky note in the finish and I'm now also on the grape. It's similar to brandy. It definitely has a clear signature."
The one and a half year old child woke up and is now sitting at the table with wide eyes. The eyes of tester "Track", on the other hand, are getting smaller and smaller, and the body is slowly collapsing into a heap. Time to change the music.
Trick: "But this singer-songwriter sadness really works too well for the tiredness."
Colour: CopperNose: Intense fruit flavors meet toffee, caramel, a hint of pepper and roasted coffee.Palate: Full-bodied and soft on the tongue. Fruity notes of grapes paired with fine malt notes and dark chocolate. Long lasting and fruity with hints of raspberries.
The Senft distillery on Lake Constance is a family business that produces fine spirits, rum, gin, vodka and liqueurs, among other things. In 2012, Senft presented the first single malt from Baden. The distillery has already won various awards.
Tick: "Uff. There's a gush of cheese coming. Parmesan."
Track: "Oh yeah, smell of cheese."
Trick: "Foot? Lactic acid, smoke."
After the first sip, Track grimaces and shakes his head. The others laugh.
Track: "Whoa no, I was so looking forward to it. It looked so delicious, but that's not my thing. You can take it away."
Tick: "I can't get over the cheese smell either."
Trick: "Really? I'm thinking of Lake Constance and grapes. I think it's quite good, full-bodied, woody, smoky. I'd drink it up too. But we want to survive the evening."
Colour: Deep amber, with a hint of ambergris. Nose: A soft, traditional nose with a perfect balance between vanilla, butterscotch and subtle oak. The delicate vinous sherry notes and the ripe grape fruit remain in the background. Roasted hazelnuts and candied papaya join in. Palate: A mellow texture of honeyed sweetness counterbalances the ethereal notes of coffee. The body is lush, creamy and has great presence in the mouth, with slightly spicy peat attacks and a tight palate pull in the finish. The aftertaste has a sweet aroma of dates, roasted walnuts and smoky vanilla, followed by a buttery softness in the finish. Almost tender in the mouth despite the concentrated grape sweetness, with creamy splendor and vinous acidity.
Track: "It also has something cheesy. But also something fruity. Nevertheless: no!"
Trick: "Right foot!"
Tick: "I don't find it that intense. And in terms of taste, for me it's rounder, more balanced. I'm also thinking of oak barrels."
Trick: "He's round, strong, has something mainstream. With something like that you can see whiskey dudes sitting at the bar in front of your inner eye."
Tick: "In the finish there is still a little bit of peat. You can actually drink a whiskey like that without a reason - always."
Colour: Golden amberNose: Vanilla, heather honey and cocoa powder Palate: Cheeky and zesty, light sweetness like heather honey, hint of malt and peat, fruity finish.
The Birkenhof distillery has been producing in the heart of the Westerwald since 1848. Classic, traditional grain brandies, brandies, liqueurs, gin, rum and more are produced. Birkenhof also produces three whiskey lines and selections. The Birkenhof distillery has received many awards. Among other things, the handcrafted single malt has already won many awards and received great gold at the Frankfurt International Trophy 2022.
Tick: "That's a nice smoky note."
Track: "At Least No Cheese:"
Trick: "Oh wow, that tastes interesting. You don't drink that away so easily. I have something like gooseberry smoke."
Track: "It's stinging, but I think it's good."
Tick: "The only stinging thing is the smell that comes out of the diaper."
The child grins.
Tick: "He has edge. He's sweet, there's acidity and, especially in the finish, something like fire."
Trick: "The smoke is already on the limit for me. Super-interesting whiskey. Complex, but not overwhelming. It's something you pull off the shelf to show it: Look what I've got here great."
Track: "Complex, it goes through different phases - in terms of taste. I definitely want to try the second one now."
Colour: yellow-gold Nose: vanilla, honey sweetness, yellow fruits, sweet malt note, subtle smoky aroma Palate: A fine, malty sweetness, a hint of vanilla and the aroma of ripe, yellow fruits are surrounded by dry, slightly salty peat and smoky notes. Voluminous, powerful and long-lasting
Tick: "That bites my nose like nail polish remover. Unfortunately."
Track: "Yes, a smoky, acrid smell."
Trick: "I immediately think of fog, of the Scottish Highlands"
Track: "But it tastes gentle. First somehow full-bodied, then it changes to dry-tart."
Trick: "But it's not as balanced as the one before, less complex."
Tick: "In a direct comparison to its predecessor, it falls behind a bit. But in an overall comparison, I would see it in the front field."
Now the first tester is finally making his way to bed, which has already been announced several times.
Tick: "Are you seriously going to quit now? Now that this particular bottling is on the agenda?"
Track: "Okay, one more."
Colour: amber Nose: vanilla, malt, ripe pear Palate: notes of dark nougat, cider pear and dried fruit, dark berry potpourri, broad on the palate with a long finish. Fine herbal notes combined with tobacco, leather and wood. Harmonious, full-bodied, creamy. Present, full of character, balanced and fine.
St. Kilian Distillers
St. Kilian produces internationally award-winning single malt whiskey in the Scottish tradition and has already won awards such as double gold at the World Spirits Award 2022. Eight products from the St. Kilian Distillers were honored at the World Whiskeys Awards.
Trick: "It burns nicely in the nose. Like burning wood chips with aroma."
Tick: "Well, fine. It really smokes. And I've got notes from car tires again."
Track: "There's also something earthy there. Or no, it smells like something is burning and rain is falling on it."
Tick: "Wet ashtray too."
All three look at the glasses a little helplessly before trying them.
Tick: "Yeah, nech. Like smoking a fag in the cold."
Trick: "No, that's more like breathing in campfire air. At first I thought it was way too smoky, but it comes in stages. It's good."
Track "What??? It's sweet as rock candy. It has something really sweet on the front."
Trick: "It's diverse, I don't even know where to taste it first. There's always a completely different flavor around the corner."
Trick: "This is a whiskey that is simply not pleasing. You have to drink it with concentration."
Track: "It doesn't work on the side, no. But it's exciting."
Colour: amber, ambergris Nose: Sweet peat smoke accompanied by sherry aromas, BBQ notes and grilled dates wrapped in bacon. An intensely sweet and smoky aroma. Palate: Full-bodied, powerful and intense with a wonderful sherry sweetness and brown sugar. This is accompanied by notes of grilled ham with honey glaze and ripe plums. All this is perfectly wrapped in delicate peat smoke. Long lasting with notes of oak, dry ash.
Trick: "I still have a Riesling in the fridge."
Tick: "Riesling? Now?"
Trick: "Yes, it would even be open."
Track: "All right, I'm going to bed."
Alright. It wasn't 33 bottles. But at least a good third of the whiskey options were tasted. That's less than was planned, but definitely more than was necessary. Time for a conclusion.
The Fading Hill Single Malt Peat from the Birkenhof Distillery wins the race with two out of three votes. Closely followed by the Thousand Mountains Braven Single Malt. Tester Trick also continues to enjoy the Hillock 5 3/4 Peated Single Malt - he doesn't exactly know why.
The bottles for the tasting were provided by the distilleries.