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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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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St Kilian Signature Edition One, Four, Six and Seven

A year ago I was supposed to be en route to St Kilian distillery for a weekend of discovery. When the plan was set-up it was at a time when optimistically we thought the worst was behind us and it would be possible to bring together a collection of whisky appreciators, vloggers and bloggers from around Germany.

Alas plans had to be changed to an online event which I unfortunately missed. However undeterred, I thought to create an evening of exploration myself – ordering the “Four” and “Six” to join my “One” from the Messe whisky festival. These bottles made their way to Berlin then London then Mumbai. In the meantime, I ordered another set – this time adding the “Seven” to round out the collection, with samples sent to Paris for another tasting company.

The date was set and we were primed to explore what St Kilian has to offer.

  • 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 (Eur 43)
  • Signature Edition ‘Six’ (2016/2020) 47.5% with 45% Rye, 30% late Burgandy, 25% ex Bourbon (Eur 38)
  • Signature Edition ‘Four’ (2016/2020) 48% with 51% ex PX Sherry and 49% ex Olorosso Sherry, peated to 54 PPM (Eur 41)
  • Signature Edition ‘Seven’ (2017/2021) 51.7% with 73% ex Sherry Olorosso and 27% ex Sherry PX (Eur 43)

St Kilian is approx 1 hour drive from Frankfurt in Rüdenau and has been in operation for approx 6 years. Their inspiration is clearly Scotland – using pot stills – hence their pot still styled whisky bottles. They use both German and Scottish barley and play around with approx 200 different types of casks – not just your typical Oak but Chestnut as well.

The black labels are for the non-peated line and the white labels use peat. All but “Four” is currently out of stock direct from the distillery however I was able to find them from a German distributor.

As for who are the folks behind this distillery? The founder is Andreas (Andi) Thümmler partnered with Irish Master Distiller David F. Hynes, joined by Master Distiller Mario Rudolf. The distillery was built on an old factory site (Meixner textile dye)  with a ‘mere’ Euro 15 million.

Please be a wee bit patient as I pull together our impressions over the next few weeks!

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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? 

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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. 

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