And my Hanse Spirit 2023 recap continues … as you might have seen, “Part One” of my two-bit event summary focused on the Scotch, Irish Whiskey, and Bourbon I drank at the fair. If you have not yet read it, just click here and check it out. And if you have already skimmed through it, feel free to stick around a little longer and cast an eye at “Part Two” as well. It introduces all the wonderful world whisky I sipped on the two days that I spent at the Hamburg-based show. Besides many awesome pours from the classic whisk(e)y nations, I also had a lot of great juice from Israel, Denmark, The Netherlands, England, Japan, and Germany. And – not to forget – some very tasty brandies from Spain and rums from Belgium. Sounds interesting? Go on and learn more!
This first international brand I would like to tell you about is Milk & Honey, which came to be in the city of Tel Aviv back in 2012. At Hanse Spirit, the Israeli craft distillery resided at the stall of its German importer Kammer-Kirsch. There, Brand Ambassador Shilton poured me two fantastic single cask bottlings (STR Cask and Fort. Red Wine Cask) and one equally good small batch release (Rum Cask). These delicate, flavorsome whiskies further underlined the excellent impression I already had of The M&H Distillery: These guys combine well-versed craftmanship, top-notch cask management, and great eagerness to innovate to create drams that really stick out!
Denmark’s Thy Whisky is another go-getting craft distillery, whose booth I frequented repeatedly. One highlight: Together with co-founder Jakob and my friend Aaron from Drams United (who also runs the “Thy Whisky Society Germany” group on Facebook), I tried a yet-to-be-released warehouse sample composed from the contents of two different sherry casks. The beechwood-smoked drop was immensely fumy, fruity, and grain-forward. It offered sweet malt, dried apricots, green apples, fresh-cut hay, fine sawdust, and lots of grey, ashen smoke. I was really baffled by the richness, complexity, and character I found in this (still) secret sip. Oh, and not to forget: The classic PX Cask I had the other day was sublime, too!
Whereas I already was a fan of Thy Whisky before, I also discovered some new Danish whisky at Hanse Spirit, namely the excellent spirit by Copenhagen Distillery. At the booth of the capital-based unit’s German distributor Charles Hosie, one could try the new make as well as three different expressions – Raw, Rare, and Refined – all for free! Each drop was pretty unique in regard to its smell, taste, and feel. Yet, as Sales Manager Jesper put it, they were all “typically Danish”. And though I must admit that the prices of the fully matured whiskies, which started at 200 Euro per 0.5 liter bottle, felt somewhat ambitious, the excellent spirit inside the precious bottles was definitely one to remember. I am very thankful for the chance to experience a tasting flight of Copenhagen Distillery’s four top-quality expressions (the new make included) at the Charles Hosie stand.
This year, Itzehoe-based whisky shop Flickenschild shared its booth with Bremen-based spirits distributor Kirsch Import. Of the many highly interesting Kirsch bottles on display, I chose one that had fascinated me ever since I first heard about it: Millstone Peated 5yo PX by Whisky Druid. The independently bottled Dutch single malt whisky was heavy and gooey with lots of bramble jam, garden fruit, cocoa nib, chimney wood, and herb mix. For me, this was actually the first time I ever tried a Millstone and I must say that I was deeply impressed. The same is valid for the EMILL special release matured in a pear brandy cask, which I drank over at the stall of Scheibel Whisky Mühle. Rich with fruit and opulent with chocolate, it pleased the oral cavity in a tongue-coating, mouth-watering, and thought-provoking way.
Two more international whiskies that put big smiles on my face were Nikka Yoishi Aromatic Yeast ’22 from Japan (served to me by spirits expert Gearoid O’Callaghan at the Borco booth) and a “sneak peek” at an upcoming Filey Bay bottling from England (offered to me by Spirit of Yorkshire’s Co-Founder and Managing Director David Thompson at the Schlumberger stand). The Nikka was bright, soft, chewy, and flavor-rich. The Filey Bay was complex, layered, deep, and stimulating. Both were really, really good!
While the focus of my visit to Hanse Spirit ’23 clearly lay on whisk(e)y, I also had a few other drinks in the glass – one of which was the Cask Strength edition of MarlinSpike Rum. The Belgian brand has only recently made its debut here in Germany, where it is distributed by Hannes and Lars from Liquorland. The rum was sweet and smooth, but also bold and breezy. It firmly and proudly stood its ground amidst the many first-class malts, blends, and bourbons I had!
Before I come to end, there is one last drink that I want to tell you about. It goes by the name of “Since 1866 Old Fashioned” and is, as you can easily guess, not a neat sip but a cocktail. I got it at the Grupo Osborne booth from my friend Jerry, who has been promoting Carlos I Brandy, 1866 Brandy, and Nordes Gin as the group’s Brand Development Manager for Germany for over three years and counting. It is always a pleasure meeting him at an event and trying some of the delicate stuff he has to offer. This cocktail completely blew me away with its immense chocolatiness, and easily the most finger-licking good cocktail cherry I ever had! Thanks, Jerry, and “Salud”!
Hanse Spirit @ Web: https://www.hanse-spirit.de/
Hanse Spirit @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hansespirit
*** I attended the fair as a regular, paying customer. However,
I was invited to free drams at some of the booths. ***