The best whisky in the world is officially German, according to the International Wine and Spirit Competition.
The Westfalian 2012 6YO Single Malt was awarded the Worldwide Whiskey Trophy 2020 for its brew, in spite of it being distilled in Paderborn, in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) judges said the 54.6 ABV (alcohol by volume) whisky, which is made by master whisky maker and Keeper of the Quaich, Thomas Ewers, had “incredible aromas of toasty malted milk and vanilla flowers; there is outstanding depth to the palate: warm flapjacks and sweet honeycomb balanced by aged leather and dried tea leaves, and a building crescendo of intense, savoury peat smoke.”
Real Press spoke to Mr Ewers, 50, a former electrical engineer who started his career in whisky in 2003 during a trip to London when he tried a 10-year-old Aberlour at a posh restaurant, which he ordered with ice and was promptly told by the waiter to have it neat, and became obsessed.
Some 17 years on and he has racked up multiple international awards for his whisky variations under his company Malts of Scotland, founded in 2009, and was appointed a Keeper of the Quaich in 2016 as “one of the leading voices of Scotch whisky in Germany”.
In spite of his booming career, he said that it took him some time to register that he had won the IWSC award – a first for Germany.
He said: “We’re giving the Scots a really good run for their money.
“It’s still very fresh and I never expected it. My first thought was, this is a joke! I think it will be some time before the feeling sets in.
“I think the judges’ tasting notes are very good. They broadly reflect what we ourselves say.
“We always say, you have to see German whisky as a product in its own right and you just have to try it. German whiskies are getting better and better.”
In spite of being the only German whisky to have won the award, beating the Scots at their own game in the process, Mr Ewers feels very connected to Scotch whisky’s roots.
He said: “The Scots are the best role model in the world, and we see our whisky somewhat in a Scottish perspective.
“I personally feel very strongly connected to Scotland. I love and live the Scottish customs, the Scotch whisky, the Scottish habits and I am proud to be so closely connected to Scotch whisky.
“I myself am a “Keeper of the Quaich” and thus very deeply rooted in Scottish tradition, and I’ve been in the Scotch whisky business much longer than I’ve been trading in Germany, so I have had very good contacts with Scotland and the distilleries from the beginning.
“This is one reason why our German whisky is somewhat inspired by the Scottish side. Added to that is the fact that our master distiller is the only German to have learnt his craft in Scotland in the 1960s.”
The Westfalian 2012 has been brewed in 50 special barrels, with the first batch bottled on 12th December 2015, after paying up to EUR 1,000 (906 GBP) per barrel. These barrels had been used in the past to store various Scottish single malts.
In 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the Westfalian was chosen internationally as the best German whisky.
After winning the award at the beginning of October, Mr Ewers and his teams at Malts of Scotland, and Westfalian have not had time to party.
He told Real Press: “We haven’t celebrated it at all. We have been so overrun by the world media and importers from all countries around the world are asking us for information, so we’ve been really busy trying to do justice to all of them and get through their enquiries.”
Details of where to buy the 2012 Westfalien 6YO, which was casked in 2012 and bottled in 2018, are available on the company website westfalian.com.
A bottle costs EUR 10 for a 5cl bottle but they are selling out fast. Links to traders who also sell their other Malts of Scotland whisky’s can be found on their website here: https://westfalian.com/hier-koennen-sie-the-westfalian-erwerben/
According to the Keepers of the Quaich website: “The Keepers of the Quaich is an exclusive international society that recognises those that have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky industry, based in Blair Castle, Perthshire, Scotland. There are only 2,000 keepers in the world.”
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Story By: Les Steed, Sub-Editor: Joe Golder, Agency: Real Press
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