This week my next set of interesting distilleries are situated in the beautiful country of Switzerland. First I must take a moment to comment on the passion and support I’ve received from the whisky loving community. Sometimes I would have stopped doing this blog, with how hard it has been at times to find any information on distilleries based around the globe. This is were I must say thank you to the whole community, those little bit’s of information about a distillery I’ve chosen or suggestions on which distilleries to use have been invaluable. The encouragement and passion for a favourite distillery has been overwhelming at times, so again thank you and please feel free to give me any suggestions for future destinations.
So on with the journey, the first stop in Switzerland would be at one of the newest distilleries in the country. Langatun distillery founded in 2005 is situated in Aarwangen not far from Langenthal, Bern. The distillery shares its home with the Brau AG Langenthal brewery, this was done in part to cut down on investment costs by giving them access to a wash for distillation and avoiding the cost of mashing equipment. They mature the spirit in Swiss oak (Chardonnay ), French oak (Chardonnay & red wine) and ex sherry casks, all the casks are 225 litres in volume. The first whisky was produced in 2007 called Olde Deer it was unpeated, the name was changed in 2011 to the now familiar Old Deer at the same time a peated version was released called Old Bear. These are now released as both standard 40% abv and cask strength 64% abv, both are matured for 5 years. There has been a couple of new expression added to the range, these being a single cask rye called Old Eagle and a single cask bourbon called Old Mustang.
The next distillery to visit is the Brauerei Locher near Appenzell. The family run brewery has been in business since 1886, they started to produce whisky in 1999. This was after the Swiss government changed the law to allow spirit to be distilled from grain. So began the Santis malt with production being increased in 2005, there is three core expressions to the Distillery range. The first is Santis bottled at 40% abv and unpeated, then there is Dreifaltigkeit with is slightly peated and bottled at 52% abv and the third is Siegl matured in very small casks and bottled at 40% abv. The majority of the spirit is matured in beers casks ranging from 70 to 100 years old. There has been some limited release expressions like the 2014 Snow white, a 6 year old malt that was finished for a year in Glűhbier (a beer version of a famous mulled wine).
The last stop in Switzerland is to the Whisky Castle distillery in Elfingen, founded in 2002 by Ruedi käser they produce the Castle Hill brand. The first malt to reach the market was in 2004 under the Castle Hill name, it was a single malt and since then the range has grown. It now includes a variety of expressions like the Castle Hill Doublewood, a 3 year old malt matured in casks made from both oak and chestnut. Most of the core range is bottled at 43% abv but they do have a cask strength expression that is bottled at 58% abv. The fermenters were replaced a few years ago with open top ones, with the aim of producing a fresher and fruitier note to the new make. This new style of whisky should be available in a couple of years time and with the goal of using only local organically grown grain looks like they will be producing some very interesting whisky.
From Elfingen we head across another boarder to Liechtenstein and the Brennerei Telser distillery founded in 1880. Like most distilleries on main land Europe they produce spirit mainly from fruit and berries including grappa and vodka, they didn’t start making whisky until 2006. They are probably one of the only remaining distillery to use a wood fire to heat the still, both being small stills at around 150 and 120 litres. They use three different malts in the production of the whisky with one being peated, they also have a very long fermentation time of around 10 days. Once the spirit has been distilled three times it is left to mature in Pinot noir casks for a minimum of three years. They also use some casks that have previous held Scotch whisky and have also done a 100% malted rye whisky that was finished in a cask that had previously held Laphroaig.
That’s it for this part next we head to Austria as we start to think about heading north again..