“We’re at Man’s World this weekend, because we want to show people that Stauning is a little different. We honor traditions, of course. But we also like to try new stuff. We’re not the kind of whisky that your grandpa drinks in his study room,” says Kristian Schweitzer, brand manager at Stauning’s German importer Kirsch Whisky. I totally get his point. Ever since its foundation in 2005, the Danish distillery has been breathing fresh air into the whisky game! And not just locally: Thanks to stellar reviews in The Whisky Bible, an eight-figure investment from Diageo and the continuous release of top-quality bottlings, Stauning has made an impact on a global level, too. Despite their comet-like ascent, they have kept the spirit and approachability of their founding days. Whenever I engaged with Stauning at a fair – as I did most recently at Man’s World – they amazed me with their passion, openness, hospitality, creativity and, of course, fantastic drams.
As said earlier, one of the main reasons for Stauning to appear at Man’s World was the fact that the latter ain’t no classic spirits fair. In fact, it is no spirits fair at all. The event’s focus lies on everything that is traditionally considered to be “men’s stuff”: cars, video games, football, beard care, beef, beer and the likes. Admittedly: With the exception of beard care maybe, these are all things that women might enjoy just as much as men. So the name is a bit misleading. However, the many female visitors did not seem to mind that. Although they were not mentioned in the fair’s moniker, the gals seemed to have just as much fun at Man’s World as the guys.
Back to Stauning. They had made themselves cozy in a sharp-looking lounge with stylish furniture, cool props and several sideboards full of whisky. Obviously, I really enjoyed hanging out at that place. Since I already knew most of the distillery’s core range expressions, I only sipped two of them – Kaos and Peated – to warm up. I then went on to focus on two special releases: Stauning’s new limited editions for Germany. Each expression is an over-proof malted rye whisky drawn from a single cask. One has a madeira finish while the other has a moscatel finish. The Madeira Red Wine Finish had a slightly higher ABV (namely 61.4 per cent) than its counterpart. Yet, it turned out to be the more reserved part of the duo. I found it full and heavy on the one hand, yet elegant and leveled on the other. It offered amazing notes of red fruits and toffee in combination with a beautiful floral component and a noticeable spiciness. Additionally, it delivered yeast dough, berries and – in the very long and oily finish – an underlying peppermint freshness. Its sister bottling, the Moscatel Red Wine Finish, constituted the wilder part of the duo (despite the fact that it “only” had 60.4 per cent). Whereas the Madeira one shone with elegance, the Moscatel one enthused me with intensity. Its “in-your-face” bouquet was rich with strawberry-infused toffee and juicy red fruits. The palate followed up on this with darker notes of plum, cinnamon and dark chocolate. The aftertaste lasted as long as that of the Madeira Red Wine Finish. It offered cocoa powder, cherry cake and bramble jam. I liked it so much that I took a full bottle off Kristian’s hands before I had even finished my glass!
After this truly outstanding rye whisky duo, Kristian knocked out a couple of other treats. From below the counter, he produced a variety of preview samples and cask experiments. Among others, they included a peated whisky with a complete maturation in a Port pipe (which will go on sale in the pre-Christmas season) and two rye whiskies with mezcal and vermouth finishes. Without spilling the beans about these yet-to-become-official expressions, let me just tell you this: Stauning has some really awesome surprises in stock for you! So be sure to keep an eye on what they are doing – and say hello to these skilled, creative and super-friendly Danes when they participate in a tasting or fair near you!
*** I got invited to the event by Kirsch Whisky. ***