European Explorations – Switzerland’s Swiss Highland Forty Three 43%

From Rugen Distillery, who have been brewing beer on Rugen Mountain since 1892… they ventured into making whisky when the Swiss laws changed in 1999. Their 1st offering was “Mountain Highland” in 2003 and now regularly produce small batches, aged a minimum of three years in oak casks. The wort and distillation all take place on their distillery premises.

This particular whisky is originally named Forty Three for its alcohol content – 43%. We sampled it as part of a European Explorations evening, just after a rather delicious Duetsch dram from DeCavo.

So what did we think of the Swiss Highland?

Forty Three Swiss Highland Single Malt Whisky 43%

  • Nose – Initially quite dry, some sawdust, light balsa, sweet honey, bay leaf, a bit of a shy nose, salt sheen, restrained, hint of vanilla, cream
  • Palate – Soft – surprisingly soft, well rounded, hay, malty like marmite at the back, really grows on you, tasty
  • Finish – Quite long, warm… actually make that remarkably incredibly long

We had anticipated this would be a bit raw and harsh, to discover quite the opposite!  It was again far more accessible and enjoyable than we had anticipated.

Here is what they have to say on the label:

  • Colour – Deep golden amber
  • Body – Soft texture, lightly creamy
  • Nose – The fresh and fiery notes are surrounded by subtle honey and some floral aromas topped off with lovely vanilla notes
  • Palate – Slightly woody notes are combined with coffee and chocolate leading to a light smoothness. A slight maltiness is felt at the beginning, which then rises beautifully in caramel and fermented vanilla bean.
  • The fine balance between sweetness and strength give a special tension to the product, the soft creamy mouth feel creates an exclusive sustainability.

I purchased this bottle at Wien Laden in Munich in November 2017.

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

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Swiss Whisky – Langatun Old Bear (2010/2016) 62.8%

Our adventures in whiskies continued… with our first whisky from Switzerland.

Langatun distillery is located in Langenthal and while new to us is definitely not a new kid on the block… It can trace its lineage to 1857 when Jakob Baumberger founded a distillery on his father’s farm. Their granary harkens back to 1616. And they are no stranger to peat, playing around with its use for over a hundred years.

But what about the whisky??

Langatun Old Bear Cask Proof (May 2010/Feb 2016) 62.8% Peated Single Malt, Cask Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Non-coloured, Lot No L0116

  • Nose – Apricot, plum, sweet, wood smoke, quite Christmassy, plum cake (one even described as edible rotten fruit)
  • Palate – Complex… finally a truly complex dram! Layers upon layers upon layers, coating the palate beautifully with rich balance, lots of sweet spices of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, quite dry, caramel, treacle…. Yum!
  • Finish – Fabulous! Dark chocolate with cherry fruit, wonderful sweet spices settling on clove

Just as the Box Dalvve was a summer dram, the Langatun was clearly a winter whisky.

Here is what the folks in Switzerland have to say about their malt:

The “Old Bear” is a homage to Jakob Baumberger, who founded a distillery on his father’s farm in 1857, and who also took over a small brewery in 1860 in Langatun. The company logo of the brewery was in the coming decades the bear, the “Old Bear”.

The “Old Bear” is prepared in the same way as the “Old Deer”, but with slightly smoked barley malt, therefore the additional name «Smoky». Incense is carried out as in the case of meat or fish: during the drying of the germinated barley, the drying air smoke is added, the aromas of which are deposited on the barley malt and reach the finished product through the further processing steps. 

The “Old Bear” is stored in oak barrels, where Châteauneuf-du-Pape was previously cultivated, a very strong deep red wine. Its traces can be found in the “Old Bear”: an intense red-brown color, in the nose beautiful notes of wood and smoke, in the taste a typical malt component and in the finish subtle smoky flavor with a slightly vinous undertone.

Back in 2013, Jim Murray gave this whisky a remarkable 96 points for the 2008/2012 Lot No1201 described only as “Whisky for the gods…”

Stuart P over at Master of Malt has this to say for tasting notes:

  • Nose: Herbal and pine-cone freshness leaps from the glass, then richer aromas of vanilla custard and stewed red berries.
  • Palate: More custard notes on the palate, subtle smoke and black pepper, along with stewed fruit, cake spices and toasty oak.
  • Finish: Burnt sugar and cinnamon, with a hint of red berries.

Purchased at The Whisky Exchange for £69.55 and sampled from an unopened bottle in December 2017.

What else did we sample in our Après-ski evening:

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