Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back. It has been some time, but Somewhiskybloke is back with the reviews that you love, those of small distilleries that you’ll have to catch two connecting flights, drive several hours and ask the locals who in the town makes the good hooch. This week’s World Whisky Wednesday (yep, still trying to make it a thing) review takes us to Germany, the town of Kallenhardter Heide, outside of Warstein, and the distillery of Sauerländer Edelbrennere (no, I don’t know the pronunciation). These are the folk who make the Thousand Mountains Mc Raven Whisky, a wee touch of something different.
First envisioned at the start of the millennium, Sauerländer Edelbrennere started as gin producers. Whisky was always on the table for them however, so a historical sawmill was acquired and turned to a maturation warehouse in April of 2016. For those who can’t be bothered with the math, you’ll note that is a little over three years ago, though as this was an extension, the whisky is said to be of between three and twelve years old. But this isn’t just any old whisky. A lot of care has been taken with this drop, carefully planned, followed and executed. For instance, instead of a standard brewer’s yeast, a brandy yeast has been used. Instead of bog standard ex-bourbon barrels, both ex-bourbon and Tuscan red wine casks have been implemented. And that maturation does matter, as we are seeing a whisky being matured an odd two hundred or so kilometres from the sea. For those in either Scotland or Ireland, I’m not sure if any of those distilleries are that far inland (or if any of those countries are wide enough to accommodate that). This will give swings to the maturation, no doubt. Just what those swings are, I won’t know until I try it. Let’s jump into that now…
I swear, the glass is massive…
Mein Gott, this whisky is off to a sprinting start. I’ve walked into a warm tent with rose candles lighting the area, soft scents of rose, heather, and lavender wafting towards me. Strong brandy notes arise from glasses brimming with young amber, tobacco and wood shavings overflowing from the glasses. In the centre stands an old heavy oak table, groaning under the weight of caramel tarts, dark chocolate dipped strawberries, blackberries, plums and figs, while the centre piece is a tray of meats; nduja, bresola, jamon, culatello, landjager and mortadella, all lovingly coated with drizzles of dried fruits, pepper and milk chocolate. A well-oiled leather strap lies off to the side, used sparingly but well to bruise the fruits and give the cured meats just a touch more flavour.
Oh, sinking the teeth into this dram is astounding. The flavours of the tent remain and now I can revel in those glorious foods and more, first finding a bar of cranberry, rum and raisin chocolate that somehow was missing from the nose. As I bite into it thick chocolate and fudge ice-cream appears alongside liquorice, honey dew melon, dancing pears, prancing bears, jumping caramel, spinning plums, sweet coffee and a black forest gateau winking as it douses itself in maple syrup. From the corner of my eye I can spot a tray of pannacotta being wheeled in by a life size Chicos sweet, before we grab hands and dive into a lake of vanilla, a brilliant oily baseline for a dram that just wants to be drunk.
And the finish is cocktail hour; with espresso martinis, amaretto sours, chocolate mudslides and a cheeky daiquiri at the end rounding out what is simply a fantastic whisky.
Oh, what a whisky, what a whisky. It’s more than evident that master distiller Julian Wellhausen knows not only what he is doing, but has a passion for it and a drive that can sometimes be lost in the industry. Whether the use of brandy yeast and red wine barrels was intentional or down to budgeting, he and his team at Sauerländer Edelbrennere have made a dram that sets a standard for German whisky. Hell, I’ve not tried something this promising since the Cotwolds Founders Choice, but if forced at gun point I might have to say that this is the better whisky.
Thousands Mountains Mc Raven is the real deal. I choose this off my wee shelf at random, not realising that I was in for what is a serious contender for one of my favourite drams. I couldn’t have chosen a better whisky to come back to my reviews with. To the folk at the distillery, well done. I’ll buy you a round when I make my way out to you. To all others, get yourself some of this whisky. This is something that makes a statement, and if German whisky can get this good within such a short time, just imagine what the future holds. I was meant to be saving a touch of this sample for someone, but I think I’ll enjoy my night just a touch more.