In Jules Verne’s popular novel In 80 Days Around The World from 1873, it took well-heeled swashbuckler Phileas Fogg a total of 20,000 pounds and 80 days to circumvent the globe. Under the guidance of Timo Lambrecht of Bremer Spirituosen Contor, we did the same with 30 Euro in two hours. In the course of yesterday’s whisky tasting, hosted once again by Christiansen’s Fine Drinks and Cocktails in Hamburg, the renowned spirits expert introduced us to six different drams from six different countries plus an encore! Timo, who was appointed to be Keeper of the Quaich in 2016, guided us from glass to glass with wit, charm and expertise, sharing fun facts on each bottling and encouraging us to participate in the composition of the tasting notes.
While Mr. Fogg started his reckless journey in London, we began our dramming adventure a bit further in the East, namely in Japan. Although White Oak Distillery, which produces Akashi Meisei, has the oldest distillation licence in the Land of the Rising Sun, they only built their production site in 1984. Contrasted against the figurehead units of Nikka and Suntory, White Oak Distillery is comparatively small. But the smooth and well-rounded whisky they make is at eye level with the celebrated spirits from the aforementioned producers! Our next stop was Ireland, which was represented in the tasting line-up by Writer’s Tears – one of the first brands Timo signed a deal with at Bremer Spirituosen Contor. And according to legend, he did so before he even tasted their product. The moment he drew this traditional Irish whiskey to his nose and breathed in its fruity aromas of banana, honey, vanilla and green apple, he already knew that he needed to add Writer’s Tears to BSC’s portfolio. Considering that the pour’s perfectly balanced palate and surprisingly long finish were just as beautiful as its inviting nose, this was a very good choice indeed!
From Ireland we then set over to the US. But unlike the millions of Irishmen crossing the Atlanic ocean in the mid-19th century, we were thankfully not forced to undertake this journey on account of hunger, fatigue and poverty. We did so because on the other side of the pond there waited a sip of Bib & Tucker Bourbon. With its headstrong character, waxy mouthfeel and full-of-crops flavour, this was a real “cowboy” whiskey! Once we had savoured the Bib & Tucker, we embarked on a trip up north to Canada where we enjoyed Masterson’s Straight Rye. According to Timo, the secret of this delicate pour’s success lies in the fact that it is made entirely from malted rye and kept in ex-American oak barrels for a full 10 years. For me and many others, Masterson’s Straight Rye was definitely a highlight of the tasting!
Cross-border, Paul John is one of India’s most well-respected single malt whisky brands. Their Peated Cask was the only high strength sip Timo had picked for us and it absolutely blew me and the numerous other smoke lovers in the audience away! Made from barley grown at the foot of the Himalaya and dried over peat imported from the Scottish Highlands, this peaty powerhouse paired mouth-watering notes of exotic fruits with thick layers of soot. An exceptional flavour combination! Rock Oyster Sherry Edition from Scotland’s very own Douglas Laing then marked the sixth and (officially) also the last dram of the evening. A marriage of fully sherry-matured island malts from Orkney, Arran, Islay and Mull, it was of maritime character, sturdy build and skillful make. If you enjoy the interplay of sweetness, smokiness and spiciness in a strong and savoury whisky, this one is for you! Although Scotland constituted the last destination of our little trip around the whisk(e)y world, none of us felt like going home right away. Thus, Timo presented us with yet another Scotch, which happened to be the older brother of the drop we had before. While Rock Oyster 18yo is also made from nothing but island whiskies, all of the malts used in this vatting were kept in bourbon casks for a minimum of 18 years. The longer maturation time and the different wood choice brought forth a less peaty but more filigree spirit of wonderful complexity and staggering delicacy – an absolute treat for fans of sea-shaped island drams and a magnificent finale to a splendid whisk(e)y gathering!
Akashi Meisei (Blended Whisky / Japan / NAS / 40% / ~40.00 Euro)
Writer’s Tears Copper Pot (Irish Whiskey / Ireland / NAS / 40% / ~30.00 Euro)
Bib & Tucker Bourbon (Bourbon / USA / 6 Years / 46% / ~65.00 Euro)
Masterson’s Straight Rye (Rye Whiskey / Canada / 10 Years/ 40% / ~85.00 Euro)
Paul John Peated Cask (Single Malt Whisky / India / NAS / 55.5% / ~65.00 Euro)
Rock Oyster Sherry Finish (Blended Malt / Scotland / NAS / 46.8% / ~50.00 Euro)
Rock Oyster 18yo (Blended Malt / Scotland / 18yo/ 46.8% / ~85.00 Euro)
Bremer Spirituosen Contor @ Web: http://www.bremerspirituosencontor.de/ (Importer)
Timo Lambrecht @ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whisky_timo/ (Host)
Christiansen’s @ Web: http://www.christiansens.de/ (Location)