European Rye – Stork Straight Rye + Full Proof

We began our European Rye tasting journey in Germany – given that’s where we are located! We decided to start with the familiar Stork Club Straight Rye and then move on to their Full Proof expression.

It was also fitting that I was tasting this pair with friends in Neumark in der Oberpfalz – considering they had earlier introduced me to Stork Single Malt 43%! And true to form, we rewarded ourselves with a tasting after a day trip to a medieval fair in an old castle (Burg Parsberg in this case)- because that’s how we roll in Deutschland!

Let’s start with a quick recap on Stork which comes from Spreedwood Distillery. It was started by three friends who spotted an opportunity to bring rye from the field to the glass:

  • Steffen Lohr, former bartender (including »Der Raum«, Melbourne) worked for years as a brand ambassador for Bacardi before he set up his own agency »Small Big Brands«
  • Sebastian Brack invented the successful Thomas Henry bitter lemonade brand and is a co-founder of Belsazar Vermouth.
  • Bastian Heuser – also a former bartender and one of the co-founders of the »Bar Convent Berlin«, the leading European trade fair for the bar and beverage industry.

They use German rye, largely from the prolific Brandenburg region, and love to experiment with different casks. You can read more about their process here.

Now let’s get down to “tasting’ business!

Stork Club Straight Rye 45%

  • Nose – Very minerally, like wet granite or stone, also quite “clean”, slowly opened to reveal a little sweet caramel and vanilla
  • Palate – Wow! Very sweet, butterscotch, a hint of peppery spice, then shifted into espresso joined by creamy chocolate, warming into orange marmalade
  • Finish – More of that bitter espresso beans

As much as the aromas were “mineral”, the palate was soft and sweet! It has a lovely mouthfeel – almost buttery. The more we spent with this rye, the more chocolaty it became – at one point it was like the rye equivalent of sipping chocolate milk!

Overall this is an exceedingly drinkable dram. Very pleasant, quite enjoyable… and whilst there is nothing “exceptional”, it is just a friendly Rye that one can sip or combine in a cocktail.

This is exactly what happened to my bottle of Stork Rye – brought to India for a tasting that instead joined a Cast party after a great production. It made a marvelous base for an exceedingly delicious Old Fashioned with a nice orange zest and Peychaud’s bitters. Yum! No wonder the whole bottle was rapidly emptied! (and yes – that’s our cat Zoe joining the bottle pic!)

What more do we know? Stork’s Straight Rye is matured in First fill American oak & German Napoleon oak. At Eur 30 (in Germany), it is good rye to keep in your whisky cabinet for those moments when you want a change from a typical single malt – particularly if in the mood for a cocktail!

We then moved on to the “Full Proof” Rye expression, anticipating it to be a more “amped up” version of the Straight Rye.

Stork Club Full Proof Rye 55%

  • Nose – Surprisingly shy, what we could discern was quite sweet, buttery caramel or butterscotch, from far away something lightly roasted, a bit of rye hint, yet overall quite ‘muted’ – at least compared with the Straight Rye, after some time had a touch of dried fruits and vanilla, but still quite subtle
  • Palate – Is that Sherry? Sweet over-ripe plums, some dates, a maraschino cherry, sweet spices – particularly cloves, then some wine tannins, the skin of plums
  • Finish – A hint of peppery spice carries through
  • Water – Fruity, sweet, consistent with the palate

This was curious and decidedly different from the “straight rye.” Perhaps because we enjoyed the Straight Rye so much, we had high expectations to be blown away with this one! It was still interesting, yet quite different than we anticipated.

What I later read helped explain everything! The “Full Proof” expression is made in small batches and is matured in toasted American and German Napoleon oak casks as well as sherry and white-wine casks and is bottled at approximately cask strength.

Aha! Suddenly it all made sense!! That’s where the odd sherry notes or wine influences came – which are a bit different in a Rye than in a single malt! Hence when we found these elements, this didn’t quite “jibe” with what we had in mind for a Rye. An interesting experiment, however, I’m not a real fan of some wine cask finishes, and with Rye? It is definitely different!

If you are curious to try it, this is currently part of Stork’s core range and be purchased in Germany for Eur 48 for 500ml.

What next did we try in our “Roggen (aka Rye) Revolution” tasting set?

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European Rye Revolution – Kyrö, Stauning, Stork

The world of ryes has radically exploded in recent years. Far from the typical North American Rye, Europe has some serious contenders in this space. This makes perfect sense when you consider over 50% of the world’s rye comes from Europe – with Germany leading the way!

And whilst I’ve had a chance to try some interesting ryes lately at Whisky festivals, sitting down at home (or a friend’s home, in this case), for a proper tasting is always preferable to the quick sniff, swish & spit of a large Whisky fest!

What I love about this particular tasting set is how a “standard” expression was paired with a slightly different or limited edition expression from the same distillery. This way we could get a feel for the ‘house style’ along with variations on that theme.

So what did we explore?

Roggen (aka Rye) Revolution” with 3 sets of pairs:

Whilst 6 different ryes may seem like a lot to go through at one “go”, when these are minis of only 30 ml each shared between three people, it’s a perfect teasing taste! And when the price is a mere Eur 20 – it’s also a great deal!

All of the distilleries, we’d had previous experiences, which you can read about here:

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Germany’s Elch Torfduett 50.6%

One of the highlights at the 2022 Schwetzinger Whisky Festival was spending time with the folks from Elch Distillery. The setting was inviting, at the Schloss just outside of Heidelberg. I was captivated by Elch’s cheeky Moose mascot, its use of local elements, and its commitment to the spirit’s craft.

Along the way, sampling various whisky wares, I also developed a weakness for their absolutely fabulous range of liqueurs. Can I just say “Eier Elli” – BEST egg liqueur! They also make a mighty fine Gin – yum!

However, the focus is their whisky and experimentations with German peat. That summer, their peaty Torf vom Dorf was my “pick” of the festival!

As a proud Franconian distillery, not so far from Nuremberg, my friends and I had plans to make a weekend trip – check out the distillery, their gasthof, maybe even their nearby “glamping” set-up. We thought perhaps sometime in the summer 2023.

And then we heard the terrible news of their tragic fire in February – destroying the roof. A terrible setback and much effort lies ahead to rebuild. Naturally, our plans to make a summer jaunt were postponed.

Which was why it was so good to have a chance to check in with the fine folks at Elch at The Village 2023 whisky festival in Nurnberg. They shared their hopes to overcome the challenges and launched two new whiskies were featured:

  • Torfduett – a new entrant to their core range, matured in 90% ex-bourbon barrels and 10% acacia
  • Neustart – a special “reboot” edition at a deliberately higher price to help raise funds to support the rebuild of their brewery and distillery.

My friends sampled several and I just had sniffs of their glasses as it was (alas!) a non-tasting day for me due to dental issues! However, the good folks at Elch took pity, and sent me away from their booth with a wee sample of Torfduett that I decided this fine summery day to crack open!

Elch Torfduett 50.6%

  • Nose – Fresh timber and tires, bay leaf, orchard fruits, sweet spices of clove and cinnamon bark, a hint of toffee, and a whiff of vanilla pod
  • Palate – The peat is more subtle than anticipated, like warm embers rather than a raging forest fire, yet still firmly there, chased by light-baked fruits – mostly pear with green apples too.
  • Finish – Lovely and lingering with a hint of chilies
  • Water – Yes, please! Brings out a delightful cinnamon spice and everything nice

There is something quite “fresh” and green about this one. And a nice new addition to their range – well done!

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Germany’s Fading Hill Rye and Peat

At The Village whisky festival in Nurnberg, there was a dizzying array of interesting offerings – with particular attention paid to Germany-based distilleries. For those not familiar, there is an incredibly robust range of whisky-producing distilleries now in Deutschland – many having shifted into Whisky only recently.

In the case of Birkenhof Brennerie, they just celebrated 175 years of making spirits with eight generations of a family-run business!  Based in the northern Rhineland-Palatinate, they’ve also reached a milestone of 20 years of making whisky under the brand “Fading Hill‘.

Whilst they had their own booth at the festival, these particular expressions – two of their core three – came from a special German Whisky club at a booth devoted to a range of member German distillers. As I couldn’t sample that day, I packed the duo up to journey with me to India to check out one fine sweltering evening in April!

Fading Hill Rye 6 Year (2015/ Feb 2022) Cask No 23 and 128, 45%

  • Nose – Yes, this is indeed rye, with generous chocolate
  • Palate – Spicy, some mixed tropical fruit, cream
  • Finish – More of that pepper chased by some fruits

There is nothing shy about this rye! It was like biting into a spicy raisin and dried fruit chocolate bar. Powerful full flavours, it was akin to a rye on sherry steroids. The more I sipped it, the more it grew on me. What fun to have a chance to explore this expression!

I set it aside to try its Peat sibling… returning to find the chocolate raisins even more pronounced if that is even possible! Including on the palate… yup! It was totally like having a spicy Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar!

Here’s what the folks at Birkenhof Brennerei have to say about their Rye expression?

The Classic Rye: matured in a single sherry cask. Our classic – a tribute to the first Fading Hill distilled in 2002. An intense single rye whisky, composed of a double-distilled rye mash that is fermented in a way that preserves the aroma. Matured for years in exceptional sherry casks.

My sample came complimentary however this whisky retails for a quite reasonable Eur €56.50.

Fading Hill Peated 4 years (2018 / March 2022) 4th Edition, Cask No 751, 752, 753 (PX Sherry, Bourbon, Islay Quarter Cask Finish) 46%

  • Nose – Yheasty, a bit of faint seaweed, cinnamon bark – a lovely salty sweetness, as it opened up, smelt like malty biscuits
  • Palate – Silky smooth with sour cherries and a peaty chaser
  • Finish – Herbal, like the after-taste of an intense flavour-packed herbal liqueur

Well… when I started my journey in Nurnberg, I had quite a generous sample… however by the time I unpacked in Mumbai, there were just a few wee drops remaining. So if my notes are minimal, trust you will understand!

And what about their Peated expression?

Handcrafted and extraordinary: matured in exquisite ex-bourbon casks. Distilled from a wort explicitly peated according to our specifications, our Peated Edition Single Malts have a distinctive character. Baroque and concise, with an extraordinary play of aromas.

Like its Rye expression, this was complimentary… however if you are curious, check it out for Eur €59.50 in Deutschland.

Both whiskies are bold and unmistakable. I’d be curious to also try their classic single malt expression – maybe at the next whisky festival, I will be able to explore properly on-site!

PS – Many thanks again to the good folks with the Schottlandforum!

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London Whisky Show – TBWC Part 2 with Millstone, Elsburn + Armorik

Our explorations of That Boutique-y Whisky Co at the London Whisky Show continued… still in a rather European vein with:

  • The Netherland’s Millstone 25 years (2022) Batch 5 46.5% (TBWC)
  • Germany’s Elsburn 7 years (2022) Batch 3, 48.7% (TBWC)
  • France’s Armorik 8 years (2022) Batch 3, 59.5% (TBWC)

As part of their special 10th Anniversary celebrations, TBWC turned to the Dutch Millstone distillery with a 25-year dram!

Millstone 25 years (1996/2022) Olorosso Cask, Batch 5, 46.5% Bottle 141 of 380, Approx GBP 300

  • Nose – A dark spicy mulled wine, then shifts into a sherry bomb of figs, dark cherries, and raisins, yet elegant, sweet toffee, coffee cream
  • Palate – Exceptional! Very unique as clearly no Scottish sherry dram. Both sweet caramel and dry, beautifully balanced.
  • Finish – Long and lingering, clearly showing its age, soft prunes

This was a remarkable whisky – such a character, something else entirely!

Alas, I couldn’t find the informative and often entertaining additional information or tasting notes from TBWC.

We moved from The Netherlands to Germany… again a different distillery than we’ve explored to date! What fun!

Elsburn 7 years (2022) Batch 3, 48.7% RRP GBP 130

  • Nose – Deceptive… initially light sunshine with depth beneath
  • Palate – So crazy sweet! Then just like the nose, some wood and other elements combine with the dessert dram
  • Finish – Lovely

We could definitely see the influence of the dessert wine cask. Just the quick sniff and swish definitely didn’t do justice to this whisky. well worth keeping an eye out to explore further if and when an opportunity arises!

Here’s what the folks at TBWC have to say:

There’s a focus at Elsburn, for using the highest quality casks available, the vast majority of casks are first fill, and only used once.

Our seven year old hails from an ex-Rivesaltes dessert wine cask, and has been bottled at natural cask strength.

The angels take a hefty share of 10%+, thanks to a killer combination of warehouse ventilation regulations, high altitude and warm summers. Whisky regulations are strict in this German region, so much so, that their spirit safe is kept under lock and key. In fact, there are 100+ padlocks in the distillery securing every possible opening.

Up until September 2019 this distillery was known as the Glen Els Distillery, but objections from the SWA forced them to change their name, as Glen could be mistaken for a Scotch Whisky – I really don’t think that was ever their intention, but hey ho…

And their official tasting notes?

  • Nose – Sweet honey and roasted nuts; almonds and pistachio. It reminds me of pink and white, nougat. Dried fruits follow; raisins, prunes, and dried apricot. Stunning!
  • Taste – Rich, and another wonderfully balanced Elsburn. Walnut oil, almond butter, and spicy wood. Leather, cocoa and plenty of dried fruits. Long spicy finish. I love this!

Next up? Why a wee jaunt across to France… this time to a more familiar distillery from Bretagne – Armorik.

Armorik 8 year (2022) Batch 3, 59.5% 355 bottles, RRP GBP 75

  • Nose – Salted butter and caramel joined by orchard fruits
  • Palate – Hint of smoke, peppery, yummy, lots of stewed apples, cinnamon apple crisp
  • Finish – Soft and sweet
  • Water – Needs a few drops to open up, a dash brings out the fruits even more!

We had a positive impression of this Armorik – even though it was just a short sniff & swish through the fabulous European whiskies on offer!

Here’s what the folks at TBWC have to say:

We’re heading back to France for another single cask from the Warenghem distillery. This 8 Year Old Armorik has been matured in an ex-Chouchen (mead) cask. Bottled at Natural Cask Strength (NCS) 59.3% abv we’re expecting to get around 355 bottles from this cask.

And their tasting notes:

  • N: Rich caramelised orchard fruits, baking spices; nutmeg, black pepper and a hint of cinnamon, with a charred wood, and a honey sweetness. Complexe et intéressant
  • P: Big and bold! A honeyed sweetness, balanced by rich oak spices. Baked apples charred oak, oiled leather, with hints of ginger. Long spicy finish. Très bien!

So then… where did our whisky wanderings take us next?? A secret Speyside, then a brief step away from whisky to a Calvados, and then on to some brilliant blends…

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Remarkable Random Range of Whiskies

What does a Scottish blend from the 1950 / 60s made for a Hamburg distributor and a German malt that barely qualifies as whisky have in common? Or what does a peaty coastal single malt bottled by an Indian distillery have to do with a sophisticated complex Island dram from a much-coveted Indie bottler? And how about the price range from an affordable entry-level Island OB in GBP 20s vs another over 150?! Or sourced from an auction some 40 years after bottling vs direct from bottler within hours of going on sale, to Le Clos Dubai duty-free or available exclusively in Bangalore only… Frankly speaking, they have practically nothing in common beyond a random sweaty evening in Mumbai where they just so happened to be tasted together!

A Remarkable (Random) Range

What a remarkable – if random! – range for a brilliant evening… which was revisited another night in Mumbai with more malt experts!

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St Kilian Signature Edition ‘Nine’ 55.3%

I love being able to bring something new and different to our tasting groups in India. The delight of hunting down something that is both novel and worth the time spent considering its different dimensions. Now, a high-end mature Scottish malt and a young upstart from Deutschland cannot be compared, however, there are some very worthy experiments taking place in Europe these days! And St Kilian distillery from just outside Frankfurt is one to watch.

What did we try?

St Kilian Signature Edition “Nine” 55.3%

  • Nose – Young, malty, with a different kind of sweetness than the One and Six. Lots of pears, crunchy orchard fruits. Cinnamon candy. Flaky biscuits with cream. Quite summery in character…
  • Palate – Well, well, well… Not nearly so ‘innocent’ on the palate as the nose teased… There was still lots of candy, and cinnamon however it was joined by a healthy dose of spice, malt, bitter apple, quite warming… and was that a hint of peat? Overall we found it quite chewy and well-rounded
  • Finish – Resin, dried orange peel… a proper finish
  • Water – Don’t mind if I do! This dram easily integrates a splash of cool water – revealing more orchard fruits like peach and apricot

It could be described as contradictory. When we first opened the bottle, Krishna Nakula (Malt Maniac) called it a bit ‘funky’ with an active nose that veered on sour mash.  The kind of whisky one would prefer to have on a wet cold rainy day….

However, just a week later with the Whisky Ladies, we found it had settled down considerably. And rather than be considered a ‘cool weather’ whisky, it held its own in the summer heat. More importantly, did we like it? Absolutely yes! For some, it was a clear ‘win’ – either the favourite or jostling for that position with the peaty ‘Four‘.

This just goes to show, that different stages of oxidation, different environments, mood, and company make all the difference. Tasting progressions are also key! With the Whisky Ladies, the Nine followed the St Kilian One and Six, so our palates were pre-calibrated to something European not Scottish.

What do the folks behind this bottle have to say?

The Signature Edition Nine is an intense, fruity and creamy-sweet taste experience. The melange of exotic fruits harmonises pleasantly with the spicy warmth as well as the sweet and full-bodied flavours.

What more do we know? The cask composition is 11% Oak, 27% ex-Sauternes, 62% ex-Bourbon.

Here are the official tasting notes:

  • AUSSEHEN Leuchtender Bernstein
  • GERUCH Ein betörendes Bouquet von reifer Aprikose und saftigem Pfirsich steht im Einklang mit süßem Toffee und feiner Vanille, begleitet von floralen Noten, dezenter Ingwerschärfe, würziger Eiche sowie einem Hauch Grapefruit.
  • GESCHMACK Ein süßer und vollmundiger Start mit Pfirsich, Ananas und Grapefruit, gefolgt von cremigem Honig, Vanillepudding sowie sahnigem Toffee und getragen von einer wärmenden Eichenwürze mit Ingwer und etwas Zimt.
  • NACHKLANG Lang und cremig-warm mit Karamell und süßem Mandelgebäck, dazu etwas frisch geriebene Grapefruitschale mit einer Spur Walnuss.

A rough google supported translation:

  • Nose – A beguiling bouquet of ripe apricots and juicy peaches is in harmony with sweet toffee and fine vanilla, accompanied by floral notes, subtle ginger sharpness, spicy oak, and a hint of grapefruit.
  • Palate – A sweet and full-bodied start with peach, pineapple, and grapefruit followed by creamy honey, custard, and toffee and carried by a warming Oak spice with ginger and some cinnamon.
  • FinishLong and creamy – warm with caramel and sweet almond biscuits, with some freshly grated grapefruit zest and a hint of walnut.

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Whisky Ladies tryst with St Kilian Signature Edition One, Four, Six and Nine

Three from this particular set of St Kilian whiskies had made their way to India in late 2021 and were opened for the Bombay Malt & Cigar gents to explore… however being overall a generous lot, they decided the Whisky Ladies should also partake, so the bottles were set aside and tasted in April 2022. Naturally, I simply couldn’t resist augmenting with the German distiller’s latest Signature Edition – Nine.

What did we find?

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

  • Nose – Sweet and smooth, cherry, fruity honey, rum and vanilla, orange, grilled pineapple, candied fruit with a slight hint of sweet spices like cinnamon
  • Palate – Subtle at first and then builds with a surprising spice. Green, fresh, and almost rye-like with capsicum, green peppercorns, a hint of dry hay with a nice bitterness. Overall quite smooth, rounded out by tropical fruits – especially pineapple
  • Finish – Short to medium finish

For some, it was almost on that ‘sickly’ sweet end of the spectrum – reminding us of a super sweet Shirley Temple cocktail! The rum influence brings a nice tropical quality. We concluded it was an easy sipper and a rather apt way to ease into our evening.

Personally, I recalled how my first impression was mixed but how much this grew on me in Germany – particularly its nice ‘warming’ quality in contrast to the cold outdoors. To discover it also adapts well to sweltering in Mumbai heat was a pleasant surprise.

Signature Edition ‘Six’ (2016/2020) 47.5%

  • Nose – Initially reaction was – yummy! A delightful rose of a sweet gulab jamun. Whilst it was incredibly sweet, warm with nice pepper spice, there were subtle additional elements like kafir lime leaf, hazelnut followed by chocolate milk
  • Palate – We could really catch the Rye in the flavors, joined by wood, sweet… Think more along the lines of a chocolate bar with red chili and cinnamon, joined by slightly bitter nuts
  • Finish – Closed with bitter chocolate, very nutty… certainly present but also a wee bit elusive or deceptive and teasing

Definitely interesting and could discern the rye influence. Worth trying, however, is it really the one to come back to? The verdict was never firmly made here.

Signature Edition ‘Four’ (2016/2020) 48%

  • Nose – Initially medical peat, it quickly settled into sweet peat and cola! There was that delicious smoked bacon, loads of hickory wood chips, nicely nutty – brazil or hazelnut? Followed by baked apple pie
  • Palate – Delicious! Tastes even better than it smells with sweet cured ham… over time tannins came forward followed by Montreal smoked meats or Canadian back-bacon drizzled in maple, beautifully oily and well-rounded, it had just a fabulous mouthfeel – as much chocolaty to the taste as the sense of melted  chocolate rolling around your mouth
  • Finish – I found a nice long cinnamon spice, others tasted a light leather with a hint of salt, and one even noted there was a bit of mustard oil!

A complete departure from the others, we absolutely loved it! No doubt this was a rather good peaty dram – enough that I’m hoping to catch their next peated edition.

As for our overall conclusion? By the end of the evening, we pronounced the St Kilian exploration worthy of our time and attention. In short, a terrific example of why we come together to explore and experience the range of what’s out there in the world of whiskies!

And what about the Nine? I haven’t forgotten about it. We tasted it after the ‘Six’ and before the ‘Four’ with the full tasting notes posted separately.

And if you are curious, you can read all about the different casks below or click the links to compare our Ladies and Gents impressions!

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St Kilian ‘Seven’ Sherry PX + Oloroso 51.7%

Back in October 2021, the Bombay lads and I explored together St Kilian distillery from Germany’s Signature Edition One, Four and Six. One set made its way to India whereas a second remained in Europe. I augmented the European ones with the Seven, which was enjoyed in more sociable settings rather than proper sit-down tasting… until the new year!

Described by the St. Kilian folks as an “ideal companion for summer”, they introduce this expression by sharing it is

Matured in ex-sherry barrels, this bottling reflects the Andalusian summer sun. The balanced balance between ex-Sherry PX and ex-Sherry Oloroso barrels ensures a harmonious enjoyment.

What did we think?

St Kilian Signature Edition ‘Seven’ (2017/2021) 51.7% 5,700 bottles

  • Nose – Dark, rich treacle, coffee, plump and juicy raisins, salty licorice… shifts more and more into fruity elements, apricots, dates, sherry berry aromas
  • Palate – Spicy! A rich chocolate bar with cherries, raisins and nuts, a clear sherry stamp – chewy and rich, warming, full-bodied
  • Finish – Long, strong with a nice spice on the tail end…

While it starts out dark and stormy, with an initial hit of acetone, this one soon displayed its clear Sherry cask influences. We also tried it with water – with a bit of a debate depending on whether you prefer your whiskies more intense and indulgent or preferred a fruitier and creamier dram.

In some ways, I would say with a dash of water, this is the most ‘accessible’ of the quartet we’ve tried. While all four St Kilian’s tried from the Signature Editions are bursting with character, this one has more of a ‘nod’ to more classical sherry aromas even if the flavour retains something distinctively different.

What more do we know? The St Kilian recipe is:

  • 73% ex Sherry Olorosso and
  • 27% ex Sherry PX

As for official tasting notes? Here’s what St Kilian has to say:

  • GERUCH Süße Noten von Rosinen und in trockenen Sherry eingelegte, dunkle Früchte lassen Raum für reife Pfirsiche mit Walnuss sowie feinen Kräutern, vorrangig Minze und Salbei.
  • GESCHMACK Die trockene Süße von Rosinen und Walnuss wird begleitet von reifen Pfirsichen und sahnigen Malzbonbons, mit wärmenden Anklängen von aromatischer Eiche, frischer Minze und Salbei.
  • NACHKLANG Lang, cremig und würzig-warm mit feinen Sherry-Noten, Honig, Malzbonbons sowie reifer Walnuss.

As for a rough translation?

  • Nose – Sweet notes of raisins and dry Sherry, dark fruits leaving room for ripe peaches with walnuts as well as fine herbs – primarily mint and sage
  • Taste – The dry sweetness of raisins and walnuts is accompanied by ripe peaches and creamy malt sweets, with warming hints of aromatic oak, fresh mint and sage
  • Finish – Long, creamy and spicy-warm with fine notes of sherry, honey, malt sweets as well as ripe walnut

What else did we try from St Kilian?

I would easily recommend Edition ‘Seven‘ however also kept coming back to the ‘One’ – which so far is my favourite! Next would be the peaty ‘Four‘ with the ‘Six‘s Rye / Burgandy combination not working quite as well for me. Based on this experience, I will also keep an eye out for future Editions too!

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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?

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