Aureum is no more??

“Nooooo….. say it isn’t so?”

That was my reaction when I learned that Ziegler distillery’s new owners have cut both their very promising whisky line AND brilliant gins. Whhhhhaaat??

In a flash, over ten years of whisky craft, creativity and curiosity disappeared. In its place is a lone new Ziegler whisky “Freud“…. How can this be??

So I quickly scrounged the internet and managed to get my hands on:

  • Aureum Chestnut Cask 5 year 43% (EUR 46 + 19% tax for 700 ml)
  • Aureum Classic 8 year 43 %  (EUR 50 + 19% tax for 700 ml)
  • Aureum 8 year Cask Strength 53,2 % (EUR 48 + 19% tax for 700 ml)

These new arrivals joined my choice from my weekend at Ziegler a year ago:

  • Aureum The First 2010 Cask Strength 10 year 55.5%

I likely won’t open these anytime soon… however at least I know I have them when the time is right!

In the meantime, here are a few impressions from that remarkable weekend in November 2020:

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St Kilian ‘Four’ Peat, Sherry 48%

After St Kilian’s inaugural “One“, and their Franconian “Six” we shifted gears to explore their “smoky” Fourth Signature Edition.

St Kilian describes their whisky as:

Surprisingly intense, spicy and smoky: With a phenol content of 54 ppm in the malt, the “Four” is not only the smokiest one to date, but also the most aromatic and strongest bottling of St. Kilian thanks to its full maturation in sherry casks.

What did we think?

St Kilian Signature Edition ‘Four’ (2016/2020) 48% 10,700 bottles

  • Colour – Dark  gold
  • Nose – Sweet smokey meats, Nordic wood sauna, jerk pork, honey glazed ham, smokey marinade, pine, herbal, cigar tobacco, fudge and chocolate, hint of coffee, dark caramel, even better the 1st sip
  • Palate – Savoury, a bit sharp, peat and sweet, initially imbalanced, a bit bitter, charred wood…
  • Finish – A nice fat finish, thick with flavours – smoke and sweet, long peat….

We found with all three, that water is a great addition – in this case an absolutely must!

  • Nose – Mmmm sherry, maple bacon, cinnamon, buttery salted caramel, malted milk chocolate
  • Palate – Tempers the peat, took out all the sharpness, completely balanced the elements so could setting into its smokey sweetness
  • Finish – The flavours remain – dilution didn’t dampen the full finish

Could absolutely see the Sherry cask influence on this one. If you are in the mood for a full-bodied whisky with a smokey sweetness, well worth checking out. With each sip, it grows on you more and more.

What more do we know? Well the good folks at St Kilian are open about their recipe:

  • 51% ex PX Sherry
  • 49% ex Olorosso Sherry
  • Mix of German unpeated early with Scottish peated barley (54 PPM) from Glenesk Maltings

As for their official tasting notes?

  • GERUCH Kräftiger, warmer Lagerfeuer-Rauch lichtet sich für fruchtige Sherry-Aromen mit süßen Rosinen, cremigem Butterkaramell-Fudge, frischem Apfel und feinen Anklängen von würzigem Tabak und Leder
  • GESCHMACK Vollmundig-intensiv mit aromatischem Torfrauch, begleitet von einer Melange aus getrockneten Pflaumen, Datteln und Rosinen, abgerundet von einem Hauch Vanille und dunkler Schokolade mit Fleur de Sel
  • NACHKLANG Lang und würzig-warm mit feinen Sherry-Noten und sanft ausklingendem Rauch

With a rough translation:

  • Nose – Strong, warm campfire smoke clears for fruity sherry flavours with sweet raisins, creamy butter caramel fudge, fresh apples with hints of spicy tobacco and leather
  • Taste – Full-bodied and intense with aromatic peat smoke, accompanied by a melange of dried plus, dates and raisins rounded off by a hint of vanilla and dark chocolate with sea salt 
  • Finish – Long and spicy warm with fine notes of sherry and fading smoke

What else was included in my wee St Kilian quartet?

  • Signature Edition ‘One’ (2016/2019) 45% with 37% ex Bourbon, 37% ex Martinique Rum, 18% ex PX Sherry, 5% Chestnut, 3% ex-Bourbon quarter cask
  • Signature Edition ‘Six’ (2016/2020) 47.5% with 45% Rye, 30% late Burgandy, 25% ex Bourbon
  • Signature Edition ‘Seven’ (2017/2021) 51.7% with 73% ex Sherry Olorosso and 27% ex Sherry PX

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St Kilian ‘Six’ Rye, Pinot Noir, Bourbon 47.5%

After a promising start with St Kilian’s 1st Signature Edition – One – we fast forwarded to their 6th Edition with a strong “Franconian” bent:

The Signature Edition Six is ​​a real Franconian! The special barley malt comes from Upper Franconia and the barrels of fine Pinot Noir from Lower Franconia.

Signature Edition ‘Six’ (2016/2020) 47.5% 6,500 bottles

    • Colour – Dark  gold
    • Nose – Cherries, grapes, an almost rye-like spice, licorice, after time it was a bit malty, fresh grass and hay, tobacco leaf, apples
    • Palate – Sour cherry, lots of spice, bitter and dry, strong red wine elements – dates, raisins, woody grain….
    • Finish – Spicy with sherry sweet Christmas spices – very dry and long
    • Water – Oh nice! Much fruitier, juicier, softer with the grapes and cherries coming back both in the aroma and palate, a nice tannin came out and the finish was even better too – long and warming

We found both with the One and this, that water really made the malt! It started a bit acrid without but really came together with water.

While certainly not a ‘classic’ style, it had an interesting character – could certainly see the Rye and also Pinot cask influence on this one.

We also thought it might go well in an Old Fashioned – something to try one of these days!

This one was a bit of a departure shifting from malt whisky into rye with a recipe of:

  • 45% ex Rye (American Oak from Early Times)
  • 30% ex Franconian Pinot Noir (French Oak from Fürst winery in nearby Bürgstadt)
  • 25% ex Bourbon (American Oak from Old Forester)

As for their official tasting notes? Here’s what the folks over at St Kilian have to say:

  • GERUCH Feine Gerbsäure, reife Trauben
  • GESCHMACK Im Antritt eine feine Süße gefolgt von Weinaromen sowie Aromen von Getreide
  • NACHKLANG Feine Würze, süß, trocken und langanhaltend

With a rough translation:

  • Nose – Fine tannic acid, ripe grapes
  • Taste – In the beginning a fine sweetness followed by wine aromas and grain
  • Finish – Fine flavour, sweet, dry and long-lasting

I found a bit more about this expression from Whisky.com.

What more did we try from St Kilian?

  • Signature Edition ‘One’ (2016/2019) 45% with 37% ex Bourbon, 37% ex Martinique Rum, 18% ex PX Sherry, 5% Chestnut, 3% ex-Bourbon quarter cask
  • Signature Edition ‘Four’ (2016/2020) 48% with 51% ex PX Sherry and 49% ex Olorosso Sherry, peated to 54 PPM
  • Signature Edition ‘Seven’ (2017/2021) 51.75%

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Longrow Peated 46%

It has been awhile since I’ve had this Peaty no age statement whisky from Springbank – about four years ago to be exact! For those not familiar, this Campbeltown distillery has three different “brands” – their original Springbank, a mid-peat Hazelburn and their peatiest avatar Longrow.

Longrow Peated 46%

  • Nose – Medicinal, quite industrial or think of an old railway car sleeper, a baked potato cooked in a campfire, starting to become more malty, some cinnamon, then became sweeter and sweeter with a nice fruitiness peaking through, even a dash of salt
  • Palate – Initially a wee bit harsh – wakes you up! Then settles into spice and fruit, solid, chased by a smokey malty cinnamon, peppery
  • Finish – Not so much on 1st sip however by the next, you realize there is just a light peppery peat curl that remains

Reading through our tasting notes you might think, huh? But here is the thing… for me, whisky preferences are vastly influenced by environment. What works fabulously in one context may just flop in another.

What about this one?

Let me set the stage… we had just spent the day walking around the picturesque Kallmunz. I’d been there in the summer and was utterly enchanted…. the old fortress on the hill, the lake below, quaint old colourful homes  Fast forward to November… and it was the opposite! It was overcast, drizzling and frankly frigid… company was great but the weather was frankly miserable.

So when we cracked open the Longrow, all I could think is… Now THIS is the kind of whisky you want when coming in from a cold, wet day… warms you up from the inside! One of those “I’m a serious wake-up whisky”

What do the folks at Springbank have to say about their Longrow?

Longrow Peated offers those who enjoy a heavily peated whisky the chance to enjoy a lingering smoky taste that travels through the senses like the smoke billows from a kiln.

  • Nose: Very creamy, vanilla custard. The smoke develops and toasted marshmallows, herbs and rich fruits appear over time.
  • Palate: Incredibly well balanced – rich and creamy with a slight medicinal hint. The smoke is always present and washes over the palate in waves.
  • Finish: The gentle smoke lingers and lingers.

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J.B.G. Münsterländer Single Grain Whisky 42%

J. B. G. Münsterländer comes from Geuting – a small distillery in Bocholt, in the north-west of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany near the border with The Netherlands. They began producing whisky in 2013 with both single grain and single malts.

J. B.G. Münsterländer Single Grain Whisky 6 year (12 Nov 2020 / 20 Mar 2017) Cask 26, 27, 28, 42% (Bottle 161/1000)

  • Nose – Coconut, chocolate, caramel popcorn, fresh and creamy, marshmallows and cotton candy, bananas, light sweet spices
  • Palate – Very sweet, smooth, really quite nice in an uncomplicated friendly style
  • Finish – Nothing much to speak of.. but that’s OK

A nice “sniffing” whisky, one you can sit back, sniff and sip in a relaxed companionable way. A great discovery and one that prompted interest in exploring further… perhaps next time one of their single malts.

What do the Münsterländer folks have to say?

Our Single Grain Whisky from the Musterland region has received a slow and careful double distillation. Entirely aged to maturity in new casks crafted from American white oak our whisky is reduced to the sought alcohol content with our own well water fresh from source. This way you receive a mellow, well-balanced and full-bodied Single Grain Whisky.

Official tasting notes:

  • Nose – Rich aromas of vanilla, cocoa and nutmeg, harmonious
  • Taste – Sweetness of cocoa and vanilla, fine wooden notes
  • Finish – Mellow, nutty and long

My tasting companions had picked up this bottle on sale for around Our 30, however you can still find it online for approx Eur 45.

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Black Forest Wild Peated Single Malt 42%

Imagine tromping through the wilds of a deep dark Black Forest and coming upon a distillery and winery that is both new and has linkages back to 1855.

These folks at Black Forest seem to be into producing a wide array of spirits and wines – from Riesling and Chardonay to hazelnut eggnog and rum, brandy, vermouth and gin…. including a peated single malt… a sample which made its way to my hosts home and our whisky glasses!

Black Forest Wild Whiskey Peated 42%

  • Nose – Fish oil – think cod liver oil, old cellar – musty and damp, hint of metal or mechanical grease, finally started to shift a bit – granary, dusty hay, dirty socks, then a bit saline
  • Palate – Metallic, wet motor, sharp yet at the same time insipid
  • Finish – None
  • Water – Really doesn’t help

Living in Germany has opened up a whole new world of whiskies – some interesting, some perplexing and some that…. well… are definitely not my ‘style’. I suspect you can already tell which one this fall into!

I get the concept of local pride and appreciate small distilleries taking a gamble to venture into whisky making. However not all offerings work for all palates.

wild-brennerei.de

What more do we know? The folks at Black Forest shared they use summer barley, dried under a peat fire, double distilled and then age for 6 years in three different (unspecified) barrels.

Rough translation of their tasting notes:

  • Smell: Salty, light aromas of iodine, subtle peat notes, nuances of smoke and seaweed, slightly fruity
  • Taste: Very soft, strong body, a lot fo character, slight sweetness, caramel, nutty
  • Finish: Long smokey aftertaste, lots of body and powerful finish without losing finesse

As for what it would set you back, should this appeal to you, Eur 40 for 500ml.

Chalk this one up to the category of “you don’t know til you try…”

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Mini Malts – The Arran 14 year 46%

Once upon a time there were apparently several distilleries (or only three?) on the Isle of Arran, naturally these were unofficial away from the taxman’s eagle eyes… fast forward to 2016 when I picked up this mini and The Lochranza distillery was the only one found on the island and one of Scotland’s few independent distilleries. Or so the story goes

Opened in 1995, there is a growing interest in what Arran is producing. Much of what you may find plays around with different finishes… I spotted a ruby red Amarone wine finish at a Manitoba Liquor Mart and have coveted it ever since! A Port cask finish bottle sat in my whisky cabinet for over a year waiting patiently for an appropriate evening to sample.

In one of those twists, I actually sampled the cask finishes – Port and Amarone – before finally getting around to trying its traditional age statement avatars. Even more amusing is after acquiring this mini, I picked up a full bottle and used it to launch a special vertical tasting after an amazing trip to Lochranza distillery on Isle of Arran! Which has now also been joined by its “cousin” – Lagg distillery – both of which I had the pleasure of visiting late 2020.

So what happened to this mini? Well…. I brought it to our wee country home, together with the last drops of the full bottle and shared with a neighbour one fine evening. It was fascinating to contrast and compare the same vintage…

Here’s what we found…

The Arran 14 year 46%Arran 14 year

  • Colour – Rich amber gold, a shade darker than the later edition
  • Nose – Fruity like the full bottle but a deeper sherry influence, richer darker fruits, nutty, also shifted into sweet cinnamon apple pie, chased by caramel toffee
  • Palate – Delicious! Just like its later edition, it was smooth, full and most enjoyable with more of that sherry influence, orange with sweet spices of cinnamon and cloves joined by plump dates and hazelnuts
  • Finish – More sweet spices, satisfying

Overall it was simply enjoyable… a perfect sipping dram to sit back and relax, savouring. An absolute treat and cemented yet again how much I enjoy what the Lochranza distillery produces!

Here’s what the Arran folks had to say:

The Arran 14 year-old is an immensely popular part of our core range of Single Malt. It is a perfectly balanced marriage of both first fill Sherry and Bourbon casks and is a righly rewarding Single Malt with depth of character and zest. It captures perfectly all the fresh character of the Arran 10 year-old with an added layer of intensity and fruitiness.

  • Nose: Dried fruits, vanilla and toffee up front. With a little water a salty tang appears, with caramelised fruits indicating a depth of flavour to come.
  • Palate: An initial burst of brine leads onto warming toffee apples and hazelnuts. This is followed by dates, chocolate orange and spiced tea cake. The mouthfeel is overwhelmingly rich and weighty.
  • Finish: A trademark Arran finish with cinnamon spices leading back to where the experience began, with a classic island-style salty wave balancing the sweet fruit of the palate.

This sample was purchased in 2016 from London’s Whisky Exchange together with:

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St Kilian Signature ‘One’ Bourbon, Rum, Sherry, Bourbon, Chestnut 45%

The “First Drops” of a new distillery are always exciting though sometimes shaky. There is always the temptation to get your inaugural batch “out” yet also it may take a few experiments til you hit your stride.

What about Germany’s St Kilian Distillery? For their 1st batch, they went bold with 18,500 bottles. My first bottle was a treat from the fabulous “Whisky und Frauen” from our time together at The Village – whisky festival in Nurnberg in Feb 2020.

I knew that this was one to share with friends in India. The perfect opportunity arose late October 2021 however whilst the bottle could make its way to Mumbai, I could not. The perfect solution came in acquiring a 2nd bottle for myself in Germany – which is thankfully is still available!

With the “One”, St Kilian describes it as a whisky which is fruit-sweet with notes of tropical fruits and vanilla, matured in an individual composition of excellent barrels (five in total – more on that later!).

And what did we discover in our wee “hybrid” virtual / physical tasting bringing together Nurnberg and Mumbai?

St Kilian Signature Edition ‘One’ (2016/2019) 45% 

  • Colour – Bright caramel
  • Nose – First a bit acetone and sharp, then quickly shifted to heavy honey, Williams pear, mashed bananas, rum and caramel, malt, roasted apple and a touch of fresh grass
  • Palate – Initially a bit sharp, then delicious… Sweet, spice… went down easily, imminently easy to drink. The pear we found on the nose was initially lost on the palate
  • Finish – Wood and malty

We found it tasty and an interesting 1st venture…  as we considered it further we decided to see the impact of a dash of water.

Our conclusion? Well worth  trying that way! It brought balance, fruitier with the wood elements even more pronounced. The finish was even spicier – in a good way.

Overall we quite enjoyed it with water – made it more accessible without diluting the interesting elements – particularly the aromas.

What more do we know? Well the good folks at St Kilian are open about their recipe:

  • 37% ex Bourbon
  • 37% ex Martinique Rum
  • 18% ex PX Sherry
  • 5% Chestnut
  • 3% ex-Bourbon quarter cask

We found the experimentation with different casks worked – particularly after adding a bit of water which brought the influence of each distinct cask into balance.

Here are the official tasting notes:

  • GERUCH Süße Fruchtnoten von Birne, karamellisiertem Apfel und Mango mit sanften Aromen von Malz und Sahnebonbons
  • GESCHMACK Weich und mild-fruchtig, dann eine ausgewogene Würze und ein malziger Abschluss

With a rough translation:

  • Nose – Sweet fruit notes of pear, caramelized apples and mango with gentle aromas of malt and cream candy
  • Taste – Soft and mildly fruity, then a balanced spice and malty finish

An excellent start to our evening exploring whiskies from St Kilian!

What else did I include in my wee St Kilian quartet?

  • Signature Edition ‘Six’ (2016/2020) 47.5% with 45% Rye, 30% late Burgandy, 25% ex Bourbon
  • Signature Edition ‘Four’ (2016/2020) 48% with 51% ex PX Sherry and 49% ex Olorosso Sherry, peated to 54 PPM
  • Signature Edition ‘Seven’ (2017/2021) 51.7% with 73% ex Sherry Olorosso and 27% ex Sherry PX

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Hampden Last Ward, FourSquare Destino and Caroni Rums

Years ago at Singapore’s Whisky Live I was both introduced to Luca Gargano and the exceptional range of rich unique rums he has brought to the world. Luca is a man on a mission to put Single Rum on the same stage as the most sophisticated single malt. He also has introduced a rum categorization approach which is now know as the Gargano Classification, based on how the rum is produced – both the distillation method be it pot still or columns and type of sugar used – sugar cane juice, syrup or molasses.

Back in 2016, I was particularly entranced by Hampden’s Habitation Velier –  blown away by its rich range of flavours. So much so that a bottle returned home with me to Mumbai where I happily introduced it to others.

As I was clearing through old ‘half posts’, I came across this one from 2018 and a flood of memories poured back!

Habitation Velier Last Ward 9 year (2009/2018) 59%

  • Nose – Gorgeous! Rich sweet fruits, vanilla, mint and fresh
  • Palate – Round, rich, tart, spice, fabulous sour cherry
  • Finish – After all the sweetness, a surprisingly dry bitter finish

From Barbados, a pot still with white yeast to produce a pure single rum which was then aged for 9 years with an angels share of approximately 64%.

What was most enjoyable about this one was the way as our animated conversation continued, the rum shifted and changed. Remarkable and so rewarding!

We shifted gears to explore another rum….

Foursquare Destino 12 year (2003) 61%

  • Nose – Wow! Sharp yet coquettish, distinctive
  • Palate – Can really taste the Madeira, dry spice – particularly clove

This was also from a pot still, known as a single blended rum as it was a blend of rum matured in an ex-Madeira cask and for two years in an ex-Bourbon cask. Distilled 2003, blended Dec 2017… bottled in 2018.

Talk turned to rum making traditions in Cape Verde, Port au Prince, Haiti, Barbados… it was highly educative, entertaining and enlightening.

From there we moved on to Caroni… Luca shared Caroni Employees special editions feature key people who help make the rum magic happen.

Caroni Dennis “X” Gopaul 20 year (1998/2018) 69.5%

  • Nose – Sour perfurme
  • Palate – Smooth and sweet, rich, surprisingly spicy too
  • Finish – Yes! Yet has a bit of bitter than sweet

Dennis X Gopaul is a very rich, warm and concentrated spirit, distilled in Trinidad in 1998 and aged for 20 years in the tropical climate of Trinidad before bottling, with an angel share of 78%. It is the content of only 5 oak barrels.

Caroni John “D” Eversley 22 year (1996/2018) 66.5%

  • Nose – Strong classic Caroni
  • Palate – Oily almost like petroleum!
  • Finish – Bitter, dry to the point of prompting a wee “pucker”

What a rum!!! Unmistakable power and punch! Those two extra years did an extra something to ramp up everything in this unique rum.

Pity the balance of my scribbles went astray and I didn’t pull impressions, notes and photographs together earlier. However it was still fun to half-revisit… with these four accompanied by further rums:

Curious to know more? One of the best bloggers on such rums I’ve come across so far is The Lone Caner.

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