When Bavarian fruit brandy makers Lantenhammer decided to distill their first whisky in 1999, there was not really a market for such a product. Still, they deemed the experiment worth a try – after all, whisky was big in Scotland at that time and Bavaria had more in common with the land of the Highlanders and Clansmen than one might think. In both places, people spoke in incomprehensible tongues, wore above-the-knee apparel and had a leaning towards freestate-ism. So if the Scots knew how to make a fine dram, why shouldn’t the Bavarians? To Slyrs’ master distiller Hans Kemenater, who hosted yesterday’s prestige tasting at Christiansen’s whisky bar in Hamburg, this reasoning made perfect sense. And thus, he and his team went on to conceive, craft, bottle and sell the first Bavarian single malt whisky.
Although everyone involved in the project was very satisfied with the first drops that trickled out of the still, none of the partakers would have dared to predict the huge popularity Slyrs Bavarian Single Malt Whisky would gain in the years to come. Today, whisky has far excelled fruit brandy as Lantenhammer’s core business and the distillery is not only seeing high demand for its award-winning spirit all across Germany and Europe, but also in Hong Kong and other overseas countries. According to Hans, the success of Slyrs is based on several pillars. First, they are truly passionate about their job and their product. Second, they only use high-quality ingredients grown in Bavaria and exclusively work with carefully selected casks. Third, they were lucky to start at a time at which people slowly began to develop an interest for “exotic” whisky originating from countries other than Scotland, Ireland or the US. And fourth, they picked the perfect name for their brand – deriving from an old spelling for the Schliersee used by monks in icantrememberwhen.
Although single malt is booming for Slyrs, the first sip Hans Kemenater served us at Christiansen’s was not a whisky, but a “mystery drink”. We were given it upon our arrival and asked to degust it blindly as an appetizer. Sweet, smooth and full of vanilla, many of the attendees (me included) thought they had a whisky liquor in their glasses. Imagine the surprise on our faces when we learned that this was actually a soon-to-be-released rum called Rumult! Ah, well… when you don’t have any reference points at all, you most often either land a lucky strike or completely miss the target. But in this case, being totally misguided did not hurt in the slightest. Cause one way or another, the spirit we savoured was really damn good. Rumult’s definitely worth keeping an eye on!
After that, it was whisky time! Naturally, we started our dramming endeavors with Slyrs Classic, a mild and easily drinkable single malt whisky created from distillates matured for 3 to 6 years. I found this to be a highly enjoyable dram that was very well-rounded. Next up were three whiskies with finishes, namely Slyrs Oloroso Finish, Slyrs PX Finish and Slyrs Port Finish. Due to the extra time they spent in the differing wine casks, these pours had an age of 5 to 7 years. Although each wood type brought out different notes in the base distillate, the signature Slyrs character remained strong and clear in all of these drams. As Hans pointed out, the distillery team worked hard to make sure that each finish complemented rather than overshadowed the whisky it was applied to. I think, they did a mighty fine job in that regard. We then ended the tasting with Fifty One and Faßstärke (the German word for “cask strength”), both of which were bottled at high strength. I really enjoyed the oomph that Slyrs’ light and fruity spirit got from the raised ABV.
After the event, Hans remained at the bar, answering additional questions and pouring everyone another sip of their fave expression. Meanwhile, the team of the Christiansen’s prepared a so-called “brotzeit” (i.e. a traditional Bavarian snack consisting of pretzels, cheese spread and radish) for their guests. The food was as tasty as the whisky and put a very nice end to a fun Monday evening!
Rumult (Rum / Germany / NAS / 43% / not yet for sale)
Slyrs Classic (Single Malt / Germany / NAS/ 43% / ~43.00 Euro)
Slyrs Oloroso Finish (Single Malt / Germany / NAS / 46% / ~60.00 Euro)
Slyrs PX Finish (Single Malt / Germany / NAS / 46% / ~60.00 Euro)
Slyrs Port Finish (Single Malt / Germany / NAS / 46% / ~65.00 Euro)
Slyrs Fifty One (Single Malt / Germany / NAS/ 51% / ~60.00 Euro)
Slyrs Faßstärke (Single Malt / Germany / 4yo/ 55.6% / ~78.00 Euro)