Let me cut straight to the chase: This year’s Hanse Spirit was a blast! Organizer Chris Rickert and his team managed to keep all of last year’s benefits (such as the beautiful location and the excellent line-up), while simultaneously improving everything that still left room for embetterment (such as the queue situation at the entrance or the acoustics of the tasting rooms). The fruit of their labor was easily the best Hanse Spirit I attended so far! When the venue opened its doors on January 31 at 6pm, however, I was not part of the first group of drammers that entered the fair. Instead, I was participating in the German premiere tasting of the new Dream To Dram by Kingsbarns a few hundred meters away. As soon as that highly enjoyable event was done, I hopped over to the Fischauktionshalle and threw myself into the fray.
Traditionally, I had my first Hanse Spirit dram (a single cask Glen Moray 25yo from a refill hogshead) at the booth of Bremer Spirituosen Contor. I visited them as a customer on Thursday and Friday, but switched positions on Saturday. On the last day of the exhibition, I stepped behind the counter and worked the stand together with Claire of Douglas Laing and Detlef of Säntis Malt as well as Arthur and Timo from BSC (cheers for being such good sports, guys). This was the first time I experienced a whisky fair from an exhibitor’s point of view and I must say that it was great fun – but also hard work. Still, I would like to do this more often if opportunities came up.
Across the hall from Bremer Spirituosen Contor resided another distributor of fine spirits, namely Borco-Marken-Import (whose portfolio includes illustrous names like Jura, Glengoyne and Dalmore). There, I met my pal Gearoid O’Callaghan for a catch-up talk over a glass of Jura Vintage 1988. Man… what a rich and precious dram this was! But that was not the only highlight. A few steps to the right, me and my friends were offered a spontaneous Hine Cognac mini-tasting by the company’s brand ambassador Olympe Courage. While pouring us generous sips of Hine Rare, Hine Boinneuil and Hine Antique XO, she filled us in on the history of the maison and explained to us how its uncommonly fruity house style distinguishes it from other cognac houses. I came to the Hine stall with the expectation of drinking one of their expressions. I left with three drams in my belly and quite a bit of new cognac knowledge in my head. Awesome!
Other stops of my journey included Beam Suntory (where I was treated to some pretty rad Macallans by on-trade regional manager Elena Fitz) and Moet Hennessy (where I talked Ardbeg and Glenmorangie with brand ambassador Michael Lutz). At Whisky Südholstein, I had an oily and maritime Ledaig from Scotch Universe and at Kammer Kirsch, I drank a strong and smoky Loch Lomond Vintage 1992. Both whiskies absolutely satisfied the peathead in me!
Another super company to visit was Prineus. There, I had my first-ever sip of Compass Box’s “new” Peat Monster, whose updated recipe is even more Islay-centric than before. And I finally bought a bottle of The Double Single – a classy blended whisky that had me under its spell ever since I first tried it back in 2017. Oh, and while we are talking about whisky firms well worth of your support, let’s not forget Tobermory from the Isle of Mull (that 21 Years Old was magnificant) and Penderyn from Wales (thanks for the nice talk, Dave)!
Despite the fact that I tried to keep my report brief and focussed, the text has already gotten rather long. And that is even though I have neither listed all the drinks I enjoyed during my three-day stint at Hanse Spirit, nor have I mentioned all the wonderful people I shared them with. Obviously, I have also not visited every booth at the fair. In fact, I have only targeted a tiny fraction of them. If anything, this shows that a ticket to Hanse Spirit grants you access to one helluva big, diverse and spectacular whisky world! And who would not want to delve into that?
*** I got invited to the event by Hanse Spirit and Kammer Kirsch. ***