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!

Don’t want to miss a post? You can follow Whisky Lady in India on: