Upon entering the new year, we deemed it fitting to write something about one of last years best whisky tasting experiences. The tasting of the Stauning Peated 1st Edition at the Stauning Whisky Distillery way out west on the Danish peninsula of Jutland.
We maintain that describing the tasting of a whisky cannot be summed up by explaining what is in the bottle. Lots of other factors play a part, with the most important ones usually being: The place and company around you. Your physical condition and receptibility of your senses. Your mood and your expectations.
After a wearisome road trip, we arrived eager and curious at the small distillery. Stauning Whisky Distillery is found near the rural hell hole of Skjern. It is a desolate regressed part of Denmark, which does seem like it has been forgotten by God – despite the comparatively high religious activity of the locals. The Stauning village is however a small idyllic place located on the banks of Ringkøbing Fjord. Just outside this village, the small distillery has been opened on a former pig farm.
We were greeted by master distiller Mogens Vesterby and co-owner Hans Martin Berg Hansgaard who took us on an informal tour around the farm. Throughout the tour they emphasized how luck and pragmatism was the key to their success. Stauning Whisky has been developed from a basement experiment to an upcoming brand in just 7 years despite none of them really knew anything about making or selling whisky.
However, the huge amounts of Jutlandian modesty couldn’t hide the pride they feel for the their work. Not only by the attention from Danish mass media, the exclusivity deal with the famous NOMA restaurant and the praise from whisky opinionaters like Jim Murray, who rated the Stauning Peated 1st a rare 94/100 in the 2013 Whisky Bible. But also by making everything out of local ingredients, which as far as we know makes Stauning the only completely Danish single malt whisky in production at the moment.
We were presented with the Peated 1st after the laid back walk around the distillery in a short line-up preceded by the Stauning Young Rye and the Stauning Traditional Single Malt. We both agreed it tasted and behaved exactly as a young smooth peated 62.8 % whisky should: Like a blast beat in a classical symphony. Like a temporary shutdown of all senses but taste and smell or – like finding a warm welcoming place in a cold barren landscape.
In this sense our high expectations about tasting the Peated 1st were not only met, but also greatly succeeded. All the elements came together on the journey this day, hence; The great whisky we were offered went perfectly in tune with the down-to-earth, unpretentious yet positive atmosphere of the Stauning Whisky Distillery. Something which is often gravely missed when being subjected to a tacky overeager tour guide on a well-established Scottish distillery.
So if you want proof that something is definitely NOT rotten in the state of Denmark, visit an old pig farm in a desolate part of Jutland and taste some peaty Danish single malt whisky.
d & m (Thanks to Thomas N. Jensen for the extra photos)