There’s so much exciting stuff happening in whisky distilling throughout mainland Europe. We’ll never have the heritage of Scotland or Ireland, but there’s no reason why European distilleries wouldn’t be able to match (or surpass) what these established whisky countries are doing.
Many examples could be given, but the one were focusing on today is Stauning. My experience with them is limited. I’ve only tasted a handful of their whiskies and have reviewed just the one on Words of Whisky. But I’ve certainly been impressed so far and am looking forward to trying their core range Stauning Danish Rye Whisky.
Founded in 2005, Stauning is one of the older distilleries in the Nordics. They’ve no intentions of copying what the Scots do, but want to make something distinctly Danish. The distillery is located in a rural region of Denmark, and their philosophy is to source everything local, as well as doing everything in-house, from floor malting to bottling. Direct-fire distillation is what sets them apart, as does their rye whisky.
But they originally didn’t start out making rye whisky, instead initially aiming to become the Ardbeg of Denmark. But curiosity got the better of them, and while peat was available in the moorlands all around, rye was soon distilled also. I suppose it helps that rye bread is pretty much the Danes’ national dish.
The founders are still the main shareholders of Stauning, but the distillery is also partly owned by Distill Ventures, an accelerator for spirits brands backed and funded by Diageo. Distill invested £10 million in the Danish distillery some eight years ago. That investment meant they could open a new distillery with no less than 24 copper pot stills in 2018.
The Stauning Danish Rye Whisky is made wholly from floor malted rye and barley and has matured for 3 to 4 years in new American oak barrels.
Nose: Initially a big hit of milk chocolate pralines, followed by chocolate truffles, damp oak, honey and warming spices, but also some charred oak, tobacco and a gentle grassiness. Oh, an rye bread, of course. Taste: Great assortment of spices like nutmeg, aniseed and liquorice root, but also sweetness from honeycomb, figs, cinnamon and jammy apricots. Finally some breakfast tea. Finish: Warming spices, gingerbread and sandalwood. Medium length.
Rye whisky is a taste that not everybody acquires, but I've certainly discovered that it quite fits my flavour profile. It offers just such a different experience from any other whisky style. Full-bodied, powerful. But with plenty of little intricacies too. The Stauning Danish Rye Whisky is a fine example, and while maybe not the most refined, a very moreish whisky.