A Catholic priest has started organising men-only whisky tastings to fill people with the holy spirit and to show the greatness of God.
The first whisky tasting was the brainwave of priest Thomas Eschenbacher from the town of Hammelburg, located in the Franconia region of the German state of Bavaria.
The special event, described by the diocese as “a whisky retreat for men in spirit and conversation”, attracted a sell-out crowd of 30.
Father Eschenbacher said: “A personal encounter with God is a real taste experience.”
According to the German priest, he wants to bring God closer to his flock with the use of whisky.
He said: “In the Bible, Jesus speaks of being the living water who gives eternal life.”
The German priest said some people complained about it being a male-only event, but he argued that men like to drink among themselves and that there are plenty of church events tailored for women only.
Co-organiser Niko Grundhoefer, a neurologist and a close friend of Father Eschenbacher, said he wanted to connect his first love of whisky with “the second thing closest to my heart, faith”.
Grundhoefer added: “The bible says: speak what the heart is full of!”
Father Eschenbacher said: “Whoever can enjoy whisky in peace, can make time for faith.”
The 30 men at the event paid 25 EUR (22 GBP) to taste five whiskies.
Before each tasting, Father Eschenbacher gave an introductory talk and prayer.
He said: “The Lord opens up for good deeds, so that the proportion of angels in your heart is as high as a whisky is in alcohol strength.
The first whisky tasted was a local Franconian brand called ‘Schlettenhof’ which was presented by distiller Juergen Schelbert himself, followed by a 12-year-old Highland Park, a Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask and an Aberlour matured for 16 years.
In between the whiskies, Father Eschenbacher handed out small snacks he prepared himself.
The fifth and final whisky was a 16-year-old Lavagulin which was drunk around a courtyard fire while Father Eschenbacher gave another fitting quote, this time from the Acts of the Apostles.
He said: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
According to the whisky priest, the evening was a big success.
Father Eschenbacher said: “When I feel that I give people something meaningful to taste, I always come very close to God.”
Demand for the church whisky tasting was so great that 17 people had to be put on a waiting list and were unable to attend the event.
The local parish will organise another whisky tasting evening for 8th February.