St Kilian Part 2 – A curious turn

This is the 2nd part of six samples courtesy of St Kilian organized by Whiskey Jason. While the distillery trip was cancelled and I missed the official tasting experience, I was still super curious. 

The initial three were overall promising – particularly the 2nd sample was really enjoyable. We couldn’t wait to dive into the next ones…

4th Sample – Industrial

  • Colour – Quite pale
  • Nose – Oil refinery, heavy peat that was “in your face”, like a chemical processing plant, iodine, hot machine shop, cured leather, oily and very industrial, gun oil, adhesive, wood chips, parsley to strong cinnamon, cured meat and bacon
  • Palate – Embers in a cold fireplace, no balance, hard core metallic
  • Finish – Same

When I looked back on my notes, there was a quote… I hesitate to even share.. but the reaction to the 1st sip was “Ugh! Disgusting!” We really struggled with this one… after the really promising start with the initial three, it was such a shift in gears… a very curious turn…

5th Sample – Briney smoke

  • Nose – Butter fudge, creamy, vanilla, saline, briney fishy peat, cream of tartar
  • Palate – Spice, cinnamon, old smoke, hot buttered rum, such a contrast from the nose to discover such sweetness, heavy cinnamon
  • Finish – And yet the smoke lingers…

In this one the peat sort of snuck up on you… perhaps after the forceful peat of the previous one, this didn’t seem so strong. Yet as we sniffed and particularly after the 1st sip, the peat became stronger and stronger.

6th Sample – Pharmacy

  • Nose – Interestingly, it began light and fruity, then took a decidedly chemical bent… like an organic chemistry lab, shifting to a more medicinal direction, dish water, paper glue, rotten fruit and compost
  • Palate – Really bitter, on the front of the palate some sugars, yet at the back was tar
  • Finish – Slightly sweet

My goodness! How did it go from slightly fruity to compost and full pharmacy. 

We sat there stunned… perplexed… in such a quandary… what could the folks at St Kilian have been thinking? Clearly the direction of these drams was no accident but… why? What would posess pursuing a clearly industrial pharmaceutical bent? 

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

St Kilian Part 1 – A promising start…

St Kilian is one of the newer distilleries in Bavaria… I had the great pleasure to meet with a couple of folks from there together with a fellow German Sharing Angel at Nurnberg’s The Village Whisky Festival in February 2020.

Fast forward to November 2020 and there were plans to visit the distillery. I was incredibly excited to spend a weekend learning about the distillery, their processes, ideas and overall approach to whisky making.

Alas as fall progressed into winter, COVID conditions deteriorated and the trip was cancelled. However very kindly, the folks at St Kilian dispatched samples and set-up a virtual tasting. Unfortunately the samples reached me late and I also missed the virtual session too.

However, I remained very curious so on a weekend with fellow whisky enthusiasts, we cracked open the 6 bottles, split each sample into 3 and we started to explore…

1st Sample – Bursting with flavours

  • Nose – Vanilla, fruity, creamy toffee, nice bourbon cream pie… then shifted to something more herbal, vegetal with ripe tomatoes, celery… then balsam fir
  • Palate – Creamy, fruity apple, dried plums, quince, a bit raw but still interesting
  • Finish – A bit of bitter almond?

Young, till a bit fiery, scrappy… and frankly quite a promising start.

We returned after some time and it had ten on almost an artificial sweetness, candy floss and vanilla on the nose but then a biting spice on the palate with a bitter nutty finish.

2nd Sample – Tasty treat

  • Nose – Very fruity, starts with overripe bananas, then shifts into hazelnuts, back to bannoffee pie, then the nutty quality became stronger and stronger with cashew, pecan nuts adding to the hazelnut, vacillating between roasted nuts and raw nuts freshly plucked from their tree, vanilla pod, fresh resin
  • Palate – Spicy yet nothing in the slightest bit harsh! Has more substance than expected from the aroma, fuller, incredibly tasty
  • Finish – Sweet spices of cinnamon, cloves, lightly bitter

We really liked this one – it had character and remained enjoyable. Even after we set it aside for some time and returned, it was bubblegum, wintergreen oil and still delicious.

3rd Sample – Tropical punch

  • Nose – Oh my! Tropical fruits – pineapple, mango… cinnamon red candies.. very prominent banana, a hint of rubber, overall sweet with a hint of alcohol, vanilla cream, a bit of roasted chestnut, candle wax, soooo sweet… then had a hint that was almost like a bandaid adhesive 
  • Palate – Initially the bananas on the nose carried through on the palate, a hint of smoke, raw chestnut, green walnut, became sweeter and sweeter
  • Finish – Strong cinnamon finish

The colour of this last dram was quite significantly darker than the others. What was curious was the smoke. It was more like the kind of smoke that settles on the walls of a room that had someone smoke in long before rather than anything direct. 

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Germany’s Stork Single Malt 43%

There I was in Neumark in der Oberpfalz, having spent a wonderful day exploring… from Schloss Rosenburg, Ruine Rabenstein, Burg Prunn, Wellenburger Kloster to the Danube… True it was cold and snowy. True, everything was shut, so we could only tromp around the outside… but it was still such an invigorating distraction after weeks of being shut in.

That’s one of the remarkable things about the area I now live in Germany – castles and fortresses, ruins and monuments… oh my! There is so much history and such variety in relatively close proximity.

So too is the whisky industry… there are apparently now over 200 whisky distilleries in Germany. Without the guidelines / limitations of the Scottish Whisky Association, quite a bit of experimentation takes place…. often in quite small / micro distilleries.

And on that particular evening in Nuemark, I was introduced to one such new player – Stork Club Whisky from Spreewood Distillers, 60 KM south of Berlin.

So what’s their story? Steffen Lohr, Bastian Heuser and Sebastian Brack apparently were on a road trip in 2015 to buy a barrel of whisky… and found themselves inspired to take over Spreewood Distillers. Dedicated to Rye Whiskey, focusing on small batch, triple cask aged – ex bourbon, ex sherry and ex white wine – using two distillates – malted and unmalted Rye, primarily from the Brandenburg region.

What did we find from this distillery primarily dedicated to Rye?

Stork Single Malt 43%

  • Nose – Chestnut, a bit of varnish then settled down, becoming sweeter and sweeter,  fruitier, beeswax, honey, almond, a bit of green grapes – the white wine cask influence perhaps?
  • Palate – Fresh, fruity, surprisingly creamy, a dash of cinnamon spice… it was a very ‘drinkable dram’ with no harsh notes

We found it was a terrific ‘sipping whisky’…. friendly and easy going yet had enough character that you knew it would also make a great cocktail base.

Talk turned to quintessential “Lufthansa cocktails” famous in the 50s and 60s… pre-mixed and bottled yet served with a certain panache and style. Speculation that this Stork whisky     would be terrific in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan… perhaps someone should suggest this to the folks behind reviving these cocktails?

What do the gents behind The Stork have to say about their Single Malt?

  • Flavour Profile: Fresh Hay, Honey, Tropical Fruits
  • Cask: Ex-Bourbon, Ex-Sherry, Ex-White Wine Cask
  • Occassion: One for every evening
  • Raw Ingredient: Barley malt
  • Beer Accompaniment: Pilsner, Wheat Beer, Pale Beer

Now outside of Germany or perhaps parts of the US fond of a “boilermaker”, listing a ‘beer accompaniment’ for a whisky may frankly seem a little strange. But in a land known for its beer and more recently whisky, why not?

Curious about more whiskies? Why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Vita Dulcis 7 – Germany Slyrs Oloroso 55.9%

Our 1st encounter with Slyrs was a few years ago as part of Whisky Ladies European evening with the Slyrs 51 51% – not really our tipple.  Fast forward and we quite enjoyed the Sild “Crannog” 3 year Single Malt 48%.

So I approached the Oloroso from the Vita Dulcis 2020 Advent Calendar with an open mind, curious to see what I would discover!

Germany – Slyrs “Worldwidespirits” Limited Edition Vintage 2012-16 Oloroso Cask 55.9%

  • Nose – OMG no! There is something rotten, frankly foul, if I’m charitable I would compare it to blue cheese… I’m so sorry… I just couldn’t get past the nose… Several times I went to take a sip and was turned away by the aromas…
  • Palate – But trooper that I am, eventually I managed to take a sip. Yes it was better than the nose but… other than vague over ripe prunes… sigh….
  • Finish – Yes… there is one… mostly dates

I could not even go back for a 2nd sip, no attempt to try with water… none of the normal things I would do even with a ‘challenging’ whisky.

I tried to find out more but didn’t have much luck with English language searches.

Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I was turned off by a whisky. I really don’t mean to be uncharitable but….

Just no.

If you don’t want to miss a post, why not follow Whisky Lady on:

Whisky Tales – Sild “Crannog” 3 Year Single Malt 48%

On one of many trips to Munich, I wandered into Tara Whisky Shop on a mission to find something distinctive – preferably at least one whisky from Germany.

When the Sild “Crannog” edition single malt was suggested, it had the hallmark of a gimmick… new make spirit from Slyrs, matured in barrels stored on a clipper “Angel’s Share”, but would it actually be any good?

And that’s when I was given a sample and was surprised… not bad… not bad at all. And so impulsively I picked it up and have no regrets!

In this case, the story has a few layers…  According to their website, 60 years ago, Rainer Heiliger, a wine dealer, purchased the production site of the Holsten-Brewery in Westerland, Bötticher Street 7 on Sylt to store his fine wines. Then along came Alexander Sievers, son-in-law and current owner of the Heiliger wine shop, is a passionate whiskey connoisseur. An encounter with Floria Stetter, founder of the Slyrs distillery, joined by Anton Stetter, co-owner of Slyrs, and Hans Kemenater, a master distiller from Bavaria led to the creation of the SILD brand.

It turns out that storage space for the whiskey casks was expensive on the island. The solution? As Alexander Sievers shared If we can’t store it on land, we’ll just have to store them on the water. We need a ship where we can store our whiskey on”.
The historic cutter “The Angel’s Share” was acquired, restored and made seaworthy, anchored in List, with its cargo of whisky.

Stories aside, what did we think of the whisky?

Sild “Crannog” 3 year Single Malt 48%

  • Colour – Dark honey
  • Nose – Caramel sweet and salty popcorn, havan smoke, cherries, plums, simply delicious, a hint of tobacco leaves
  • Palate – Spice, initially sharp, some brine, a bit oily, sweet spice, had real substance and terrific character, growing more enjoyable sip by sip
  • Finish – Definitely there, smooth, sweet with the warmth remaining, ending with a bit of copper or metallic note
  • Water – We wouldn’t recommend… while it makes it fruitier, spicier it somehow loses something too

Overall we were rather impressed. For many, this was the favourite of the evening. It reminded us of settling into a comfortable leather chair… or a shipwreck whisky, washed ashore…

Another thought it channeled the spirit of “Ernest Hemingway” with his iceberg style, understated yet adventurous.

We set it aside and revisited to discover a delicious banana split parfait, loads of fruits… yum!

There was no doubt this was a whisky worth trying, kicking back to enjoy!

And what do the folks over at Sild have to say?

An absolute rarity, the CRANNOG edition from the SILD distillery is the only whiskey worldwide that is stored at sea on board of a ship – “The Angel’s Share”. 2700 entire bottles will be produced. It’s a sought-after collector’s item for international whiskey enthusiasts.

But why store it at sea? For the simple reason that it gives the whiskey a unique taste. SILD Crannog undergoes an incomparable ageing process like no other whiskey. The natural course of the tides, the continuous and gentle rocking of the waves, but also the brute force of the swell during storms, shape the taste of the SILD Crannog. Even inside the port, the sea can get so rough during strong east winds that not even experienced captains will head into port during a storm. Add to that the salty sea air and the varying temperature conditions over the course of three years. Such development gives the Crannog an enormous range in flavor: strong, peppery, and pleasantly salty with a full-bodied taste of malt. In the glass, it shines like dark amber and has a spicy, sweetish and slightly smoky aroma.

  • Appearance: deep amber
  • Aroma: smoky – leathery, light vanilla notes, malty, cool – salty, iodine, seaweed, white pepper, appears light in the nose and yet complex
  • Taste: creamy soft and round, salty in the mouth, iodine and a sea breeze, distinct malt character, interesting play of sweetness, saltiness and spicy
  • Finish: in the finish very long and complex

I purchased this whisky at Tara Whisky Store, Munich in December 2018 for EUR 90 plus tax, however can now only find it on auction sites for EUR 170.

What else did we sample in our evening of Whisky Tales?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Bavarian Bounty – Slyrs, SILD, Aureum, Finch

Normally you would only hear about a whisky from me AFTER it has been tasted. However  with my recent jaunts to Munich, I’ve gathered a few German whiskies yet confess I know very little about the industry there…

What surprised me most in this recent Munich visit was just how many German brands putting out “single malts”. Even more remarkable to learn there are approx 23 distilleries producing some variation of “whisky”… No wonder I saw distilleries like “Stork”, St Kilian, Höhler, Hammerschmiede with The Glen Els as just a few vying for space with Slyrs.

So decided to do a little “Pre-Cursor” post to explore a bit more about the whiskies I did pick up… call it an appetizer before the tastings to come…

Slyrs is the best known Bavarian single malt. While the first whisky was distilled using stills from the traditional Lantenhammer distillery in 1999, by 2007 Slyrs whisky had a new home at a newly erected distillery in Neuhaus. From there I have sitting in my cupboard 3 whiskies:

What else did I pick up?

  • From Ziegler distillery, I picked the “basic” Aureum Single Malt 43% rather than their experiments maturing in Chestnut barrels, guitar wood in barrels, ex plum brandy or cognac barrels.
  • And from Finch, their Finch Classic 40% which is matured for 5-6 years in ex Bourbon then  wine casks.

We’ve had quite a few European whiskies over the years, here are a few German ones we’ve managed to sample:

Want even more Whisky Lady posts? Follow this blog on:

Germany’s Thousand Mountains 46.2%

From Sauerländer, a conveniently small bottle of whisky made its way from the distillery in Germany to a Worli sea facing bungalow in Bombay.

Like a few new distilleries, it is a project born out of friendship and a love for a good dram. My host had been to the distillery and shared how open the team is to consumers buying a barrel, keeping it there until it is ready to bottle.

What did we find in our wee sniff and swish?

Thousand Mountains McRaven Single Malt Whisky 46.2%

  • Nose – Fresh hay, quite organic, bit nutty
  • Palate – Young, uncomplicated, easy to drink, lightly fruity and malty
  • Finish – Short

We didn’t spend too much time with this whisky, just enough to say hello, pronounce it pleasant and move on to other samples on offer that evening.

And what do the folks at Thousand Mountains have to say?

Description: From our Kallenhardt water and malt we make a mash, which is gently saccharified and fermented with special yeast. Burning is based on a specially developed, aroma-friendly firing process that promises first-class raw whiskey. This allows us to produce a first-class whiskey after a relatively short barrel aging. The storage of our Mc Raven takes place first in Tuscan red wine barrels and finally in selected Bourbon casks. Our master distiller Julian Wellhausen fills our single malt unfiltered and not dyed in our hand-finished bottles.

  • Taste: The taste shows a slight sweetness of marzipan paired with fine, peppery spiciness, with aromas of dark fruits, oak, vanilla and dark chocolate.
  • Odor: The Mc Raven shows an intense scent of vanilla, malt and fresh fruits in Nosing. Attention! He unfolds several times with other nuances. Give him time.
  • Colour: Natural amber coloring by barrel storage.
  • Tip: Our Thousand Mountains Mc Raven whiskey has 46.2% Vol. This allows you to treat it to a few drops of water. You will be surprised what flavors are still being released. The pleasure experience is expanded.

I’m still relatively new to exploring German whiskies, only having tried:

The 1st (DeCavo) was a delightful surprise and the 2nd (Slyrs) was a bit too brash for my taste. This one fell somewhere in between – still quite young but not completely raw. Guess we will see how it evolves over time.

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Breaking open the bar – Westland, Glenmorangie, Balblair and DeCavo

We had another type of evening planned but with our original contributor unwell, decided to shift gears completely and crack open our respective bars to pull out an open bottle or two.

What did we decide to try / revisit?

  • Westland American Oak 46% – What once impressed…. now disappointed… just not what it used to be…
  • Glenmorangie 19 year 43% – First opened with the Whisky Ladies in January,  Soft citrus, fruity, light florals, lovely… classic Glenmorangie style
  • Balblair 05 46% – Opened as part of a recent evening with the folks from InterBev, it had a slightly sour element not previously found but still most drinkable
  • DeCavo NAS Batch 10 Cask 92 46% – Brought back as our favourite from a recent European exploration. Still lip smackingly good! We’d love to try more and a 375 ml bottle is perfect size for our tastings…

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

European Explorations – Germany’s DeCavo 46%

In my trip to Munich in November 2017, I happened upon a speciality spirit shop. As usual, a lively conversation about different whisky distilleries ensued. However I had a very specific quest – to try and find  something I could not buy anywhere else.

DeCavo fit the bill perfectly. Now the challenge is that the very thing that makes an unusual  whisky so interesting… also means further details can be elusive.

What I could find out is that DeCavo is from the Brandenburg specialty distillery based in Hagen with the name inspired by their practice of storing barrels in a cave (Dechenhöhle) for maturation… hence it is called “German cave whisky”…

That being said, it isn’t clear whether the bottle I acquired is a malt spirit or old enough to be called whisky. What can be misleading is you can have a “single malt” that is still a spirit i.e. under 3 years and hence not yet what those  in Scotland and Europe would call “whisky.”

Above all… what matters most to us is what did we think?

DeCavo Handcrafted Single Malt Batch 10, Cask 92 46%

  • Nose – Yum! Banana – to be more precise cooked and caramelized banana crepe, bubblegum, berries, banofee pie, cinnamon candy… after some time  unmistakable coconut like Malibu rum! Or that Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion… Kept shifting into a bit of bay leaf, worm wood, vanilla… and even rum with Christmas pudding notes. Delicious nose!
  • Palate – Striped candy, toffee, wood, there was some substance here not just frothy sweet, almost like a quality liqueur, creamier on the palate with a lightly toasted element
  • Finish – Tight, hints of licorice
  • Water – Brings out the spice, reveals a musty slightly bitter finish

There was absolutely no doubt this was the surprise of the evening! And an absolute delight. I don’t think anyone imagined how much we would enjoy this German dram. It was truly exceedingly tasty and what an interesting inviting nose!

So I dug around to find out more and found out the following:

Jim Murray not only helped us fill the first barrel, but also tested our DeCavo Hand Crafted Single Malt and added it to the whiskey Bible. We are looking forward to an outstanding 91 out of 100 points. Together with an indication of the impressive quality of the distillate, which has already been ripened for several months, and the explanation that he can hardly wait to be able to rate it as whiskey in two years. He describes the taste of the DeCavo Hand Crafted Single Malt as a citrus-toning, attractive, oily, juicy, malty and “smacking delicious”. In addition, he points out that bottlings with such a high score fall into his personal category “brilliant”.

  • Color: light copper
  • Nose: milk chocolate, vanilla and caramel as with crème brûlée, nutty, dried fruit, some marzipan
  • Taste: Vanilla, caramel, nutty, dried apple, fresh pastries

This bottle was purchased at Wien Laden in Munich in November 2017.

My European Explorations with the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents included:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

European Explorations – Domaine des Hautes Glace, DeCavo, Swiss Highland, Gouden Carolus, Puni

Over the last few years, I’ve had a few opportunities to explore European whiskies… so much so that I created a separate page devoted just for whiskies with European origins.

I will also admit that the novelty factor is often higher than the quality factor. Hence I knew I was taking a gamble with this particular quartet – acquired over a few years for the Bombay Malt & Cigar gentlemen.

What did we try?

And just because I happened to have an open bottle, I shared a snifter of Bretagne’s Buckwheat whisky Eddu Silver 40%. It was quickly quaffed, pronounced like calvados and we moved on to the main event!

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: