Following up on “Part One” of my Bottle Market 2022 recap, here comes “Part Two”. It covers the second leg of my visit to one of Northern Germany’s leading whisky and spirits fairs. Again, I stopped by at the stalls of many fantastic exhibitors – such as Prineus GmbH from Kiel, whose counter is always packed with delish drams to discover! When I arrived there, I greeted Gerd, Marc-Björn, and Thomas from the company itself as well as their guest at the booth, Elliot from tradition-conscious Lowlands distillery Lindores Abbey. Since Elliot was super-busy serving a big group of curious drammers, I focused on another brand from the top-notch Prineus portfolio: FABLE Whisky, which is currently one of my most beloved indie bottlers out there!
To drink, I picked the latest batch of FABLE’s 11-year-old Linkwood called “Folk”. This particular single cask bottling is exclusively available in Germany via Prineus. It was honey-sweet with softened notes of clover, caramel, pastry, and a wee drop of lime juice. I especially liked how nicely it caressed the tongue and the rest of the oral cavity – the mouthfeel was nothing short of amazing! Still, I ended up taking another bottle home, namely a brand-new release of FABLE’s 12-year-old Glen Spey monikered “Ghost”. Unlike the earlier versions, this bottling was drawn from a butt rather than a barrel. As the liquid is as pale as a sheet, rumor suggested that it might have come from a Fino cask … but that was just a guess, of course. Maybe I can say more about it once I have opened the bottle I took home from the fair. (At the stand, they only had the barrel-matured first batch open to try). Stay tuned!
Next, I journeyed on to the Benelux countries, where I had my first stop at Distilleerderij de Bronckhorst from the Netherlands – home of Dahomey Whisky (the current batch of which is finished in an old Imperial cask) and Schotman Peated Rum (created via a unique, patented craft procedure). Both spirits were new to me, but now that they have popped up on my radar, I will keep a closer eye on them. I really fancied the whisky’s mix of chewy, fruity, and spritzy aromas (crumbled fudge, crisp cereals, zesty citrus, baked banana, and cocoa nibs); and I also very much enjoyed the rum’s stimulating interplay of soft toffee, burnt raisins, sweet herbs, and fiery smoke.
At the booth of Liquorland, a new distributor from my hometown of Hamburg, I finally got to try my first Belgian whisky, courtesy of Belgian Owl Distillery. While I had already heard the name before, I had never had the opportunity to taste the corresponding spirit. Hannes and Lars of Liquorland helped me fill that gap with a wee tasting of various Belgian Owl Distillery expressions. We started with the very good New Make, continued with an excellent 4 Years Old with 46 per cent ABV, and ended with the super-intense Cask Strength, which brought no less than 73.15 per cent ABV to the table! While this was easily the most powerful dram I had all day, I must say that I was quite surprised by its savoriness and drinkability. Sure, it set my oral cavity ablaze with an invigorating tickle; but it did not feel sharp, alcoholic, or overcharged at all! No doubt, Belgian Owl is a small but outstanding European production site that I will keep a close eye on from now on.
Another great exhibitor to check out is Loch Lomond. At fairs and conferences, the distillery’s Brand Ambassador in Germany, Sebastian, is always surrounded by a wide array of fantastic drams. This time, he served me a special pour: Loch Lomond 22 Years Old “150th St Andrews”, composed and bottled as part of the distillery’s prestigious The Open Course Collection. Since I don’t know much about golf, the whisky’s backstory mostly eluded me. What I remembered, however, is this: Loch Lomond 22 Years Old “150th St Andrews” is a wonderfully sweet, round, and rich single malt Scotch whisky offering lots and lots of toffee, date, raisin, passion fruit, orange marmalade, and oak. For sure: The years have been very kind and uplifting to this grade-A drop!
Finally, after more than 1,500 words split up across two related blog posts, we are now approaching the end of my Bottle Market 2022 report. The second-to-last booth I am happy to feature here is that of Irish Whiskies, where my friend Thorsten introduced me to The Friends Collection Part Two, a palatable and sharable cask strength Irish whiskey that is delicately rich with apple juice, citrus jelly, lemon cake, and caramel sauce as well as meadow grass and spicy oak. As in the year before, the last stand I targeted belonged to Schlumberger. There, Amy from Filey Bay filled my glass with the Yorkshire-based distillery’s IPA Finish first, before Bastian from Penderyn gave me my final dram of the evening: Penderyn Yma O Hyd, which is named after the unofficial anthem of Wales’ national football team. Both releases showed impressively that there is excellent whisky being made all across Great Britain these days – and not just in Ireland and Scotland. That is also one of the things I love most about Bottle Market: the line-up is so broad, diverse, and multifaceted that you will always find lots n’ lots of great stuff to explore and discover there, be it from the classic whisky nations or from new kids on the block. And if you are a little more open than me, you will not just find amazing malts, grains, and blends there, but also a sheer wealth of rum, gin, and other liquor!
Bottle Market @ Web: http://www.bottle-market.de/
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Bottle Market @ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bottlemarket_bremen/
Messe Bremen @ Web: http://www.messe-bremen.de/
*** I won a free ticket to the fair in a social media
give-away hosted by Kirsch Whisky. ***