When nine Danish friends decided to found their country’s first whisky distillery in 2005, they gave it their everything. Besides their savings, they also put their blood, sweat, tears and time into the project. And – most importantly – their heart. Luckily for them and us, the effort paid off. Fifteen years later, Stauning Whisky is one of the most popular hotspots on the world whisky map! Still, the spirited norsemen have no intentions to slow down. With a natural curiosity being deeply rooted in Stauning’s DNA, they continue to push, drive and innovate. Their latest coup: They completely overhauled the design of their whisky bottles, making them look much more stylish, unique and personal. To celebrate this important step in the evolution of the Stauning brand, the distillery’s German importer Kirsch Whisky held a private launch event in the illustrious Bar Le Lion in Hamburg on Monday, 8 September 2020. Gladly, they invited me to come over there, too …
Besides myself, about a dozen other people showed up: bloggers, journalists and industry folks. The smooth organization was carried out by the capable folks of Bar Le Lion and Kirsch Whisky. They were brilliant hosts that paid utmost attention to their guests’ well-being. For the main part of the evening, however, they handed the stage over to someone else, namely Alex Munch. The good-humored Dane is one of the nine friends that founded Stauning Whisky one and a half decades ago. Together with him, we savored the distillery’s three core range expressions: Rye, Peat and Kaos. Along the way, we heard all kinds of colorful anecdotes from the exciting, unconventional Stauning journey. “We came from all kinds of industries,” said Alex about the early days of the distillery. “One of us was a teacher, one was a butcher, one was a doctor and so on. We all loved whisky. But we had no clue how to make it.” Of course, this did not stop them from pursuing their dream: to create a genuine Danish whisky inspired by vintage Ardbeg from 1977. The knowledge and skills to do so, they got from books, from conversations and from trying stuff out. With regard to the latter, Alex remarked: “The good thing about starting without any previous knowledge is this: There are no boundaries. When you don’t know how to do it properly, you can do pretty much anything. Today, we certainly know our stuff. But we have still kept that experimental attitude from our starting days.”
In the light of the evening’s central topic, Alex also spoke about Stauning’s recent rebranding. According to him, the old bottles looked fine, too. Yet there was one thing about them that bugged him and the other founders. “They were not personal at all,” Alex told us. “The bottles could just as well contain Irish whiskey, for example.” Going forth, such a statement would no longer be true. The unique design of the new Stauning bottles blends luxury elements (such as golden print on blackened ground) and playful ideas (such as comic-styled illustrations) in a most attractive way. Plus, it is totally coined towards Stauning. “Our complete history and all our production methods are right there on the bottle,” said Alex with noticable pride. And indeed – when you study the details carefully, you will find a ton of references and easter eggs. The nine friends are there. The Danish flag is there. The custom-made Abercrombie stills are there. The ingenious floor malting machine is there. The locally sourced ingredients are there. The old distillery building is there. The new distillery building is there. And much, much more!
Another novelty is the size. Stauning’s whisky does now come in 700 ml bottles rather than 500 ml bottles. What is most remarkable about this: As the volume increased, the price per bottle went down! On average, the 700 ml bottles of Rye, Peat and Kaos are now about 20 Euro cheaper than the old 500 ml bottles with the same content (for the record: the recipes of the mentioned whiskies have all remained untouched)! Kirsch Whisky’s Kristian Schweitzer, who is the brand manager for Stauning in Germany, explained to me the math behind this: “In the last years, Stauning has invested heavily into the expansion of the distillery. This allowed us to re-position ourselves on the market. Since the yield has gone up significantly, we can now offer the whisky at a more approachable price point.” Of course, I find this to be a very pleasing development. After all, I have been a Stauning fan for quite some time – and now that their excellent whisky is a bit friendlier to my wallet, it will most certainly find its way into my shopping card more often. And who knows? Maybe it’s the same for some of you guys, too. In this spirit: Here’s to Danish whisky in general and Stauning in particular. Skål!
Stauning’s core range
Stauning Rye (Malted Rye / Denmark / NAS / 48% / ~60 Euro)
Stauning Kaos (Malt and Rye / Denmark / NAS / 46% / ~65 Euro)
Stauning Peat (Single Malt / Denmark / NAS / 46% / ~80 Euro)
*** I was kindly invited to the event by Kirsch Whisky. Thank you. ***