When my family starts planning to go on vacation my wife and I have a very different approach. She’s a Travel Counsellor and therefor she is the one planning the trip and the accomodations. I’m a whiskyblogger so I go searching for interesting stuff to write about. In 2014 this resulted in a nice friendship with Jean and Martine Donnay at the Glann Ar Mor Distillery in France. In 2015 I found out that there would be a distillery I could visit as well! This vacation was in Denmark, the distillery I visited was Stauning Danish Whisky in Skjern.
Before driving to Denmark I had already made contact with the distillery telling them I’d like to write about the distillery and their products. My oldest son and I arrived in quite a big visitor center in what used to be an old old Danish farmhouse. Stefan Baumgart was helping some German customers before he could help us. I told him about my email and immediately we felt very welcome. We could take a look around in the visitor center and after that he would take us on a quick tour.
Normally guided tours are done on mondays to thursdays at 14.00. We were very lucky to get a private tour through the small, totally handcrafted, distillery. First he showed us the two malting floors. Both barley and rye are malted on these floors. The malted grain is then dried in sort of a drying room where different types of dryng are used. Hot air, peat smoke and the smoke of dried heather. A small mill grinds the dried grains and then the grist is brought in contact with hot water. In contrast to the Scottish method Stauning doesn’t use a mashtun. They use sort of a filterhome where the filter contains the grist and hot water is used to wash the sugars, enzymes and starch out of the grain.
The wort is then cooled down to 27C and pumped into containers (instead of traditional washbacks) where yeast is added. The fermentation takes place in these containers for a period of three days before the wash is pumped into the small washstill. A slow distillation process is started and two distilling stages later a very nice spirit is produced. (Stefan was kind enough to let me taste a drop of the very fresh and fruity spirit) The result of the process is a total of 300 liters of spirit a day. Maturation of the single malt spirit takes place in ex-bourbon casks they purchase from Maker’s Mark and sometimes finishing in virgin oak casks is applied. Rye whisky always matures in virgin oak casks.
The range of the Stauning Distillery can be tasted when taking a tour. I tasted some of their products as well and I was a bit surprised by the taste of the young whisky’s. There simply are no old bottlings because the distillery started producing in 2009… First I tasted the Young Rye. This spirit has matured in a 200 liter virgin oak barrel and two virgin oak quartercasks. The maturation period in the quartercasks has only been 30 months so that’s why it’s called Young Rye. It’s too young to be called whisky but it’s very tastefull.
Next in line is a spirit that is still maturing. It’s the next Traditional which has matured in ex-bourbon casks and now is being finished in Virgin Oak casks. This one will be bottled in the near future. Nice as well but I like the Rye a bit more.
An expression that still is available in the shop is the Peated nr 5, the fith bottling of the peated single malt. It has a 30ppm peatlevel and it’s bottled at 51,1% ABV. Earlier versions of the peated Stauning have won awards and nice comments. It absolutely is a lovely peated whisky that’s opening up very nicely with a few drops of water.
Last but not least is an experimental spirit which is still maturing. Right now it has matured for 25 months but it’s already very tastefull! The malted barley of this spirit is dried with smoke of dried heather. This brings a very special nosing and tasting experience with it. I’m very curious how this will turn out when it’s bottled.
I’d like to thank Stefan for his time and hospitality. It was very nice to visit this distillery and of course I took a bottle home with me. The Young Rye is now part of my collection and you’ll be able to read more about that one in a future blog.
A few months after my visit Diageo took a big interest in the Stauning Distillery. They invested a lot of money which resulted in new equipment, buildings, warehouses et cetera. Take a look at this video to see what it’s like at the moment.