The German whisky scene is alive and bubbling. New bottlers enter the market. Our friend Markus Bauer started a series called ‘The Shining Dram’ and provided me with his first releases (nice label designs). He has been drinking the water of life for over 20 years now – so no startup without soul. All his releases are non-chill-filtered and without artificial colouring. Markus picks the single casks himself. I wish him best of luck. Let’s taste them:
Glenrothes 10 y.o. The Shining Dram, from butt, 52,9%
Comment: I call this a greenhouse dram. I am getting floral elements, linseeds, orchard fruit (pear, apple, cider), green grapes, tomato plants, wet malt, pistachio, lemon zest and white pepper. All is in balance and a typical dram for ist age. Water opens it up a little more.
Glenrothes 20 y.o. The Shining Dram, from hogshead, 51,5%
Comment: This older version is wonderfully fruity (already esters of tropical fruits like passion fruit, but also orchard apple, Haribo’s sour apple rings and orange zest). There also is a fresh mintiness. The dram is a great combo between sour fruit elements and woody spices with vanilla. Although the oak is a bit loud, the oily mouthfeel and apricot fruit reward the drinker manifold.
Ben Nevis 19 y.o. The Shining Dram, from Bourbon hogshead, 48,6%
Comment: To start with, this is one of the most unusual drams I ever had, hence very Ben Nevis (which I like). Yes, an awkward mix awaited me but it is very interesting and mind-boggling. It will find its lovers and haters. The spectrum of aromas consists of hazelnut bush, cereals, mashy youthfulness, canned coffee milk, sheep stable and ewe’s cheese, fresh paint, coal, cocoa powder and Indian curried pickles. On the palate it is a wild ride in unusual terrain of old wooden planks, persipan, and all of the above. Cool yet crazy. Give it a try!
Auchroisk 24 y.o. The Shining Dram, from Bourbon hogshead, 43,5%
Comment: A summer breeze high in the Alps, this is the headline here, Fragile but so complex and lovely. Great balance and maturity, floral lightness, like a summer wind in a flower dress on an ‘Alm’. We also have fruitiness (kiwi, strawberry, Austrian apricot), coconut, iron, grass and vanilla cream. Very elegant and a must-have for fans of this profile. Big sips recommended.
Blended Malt 23 y.o. The Shining Dram, from sherry hogshead, 51,1%
Comment: X-Mas cake (‘Christstollen’ soaked), very juicy – the sherry is perfectly integrated and not dry, which is rare at this high intensity. Rumtopf, raisins, figs, cherries, blackberries, cinnamon, orange zest, dark Wood – all in balance and full expression. Stunner!
Orkney Single Malt 12 y.o. The Shining Dram, from hogshead, 50,6%
Comment: Give this one time and it will rock your world. Starts youthful and with great balance, then it becomes more mature. Mossy river, peaty Highland floor with heather, herbs, ozone, black pepper, juniper, sloe berry, hazelnut shrub, sweet malt, Turkish delight, white chocolate, litchi, kurkuma, olive oil and more. It tastes wonderful and manages to combine two worlds: lightness yet being heavily loaded with aromas. The malty sweetness and complexity in coastal style is breathtaking. Buy!
Caol Ila 10 y.o. The Shining Dram, from hogshead, 53,3%
Comment: A typical example, and a nice one too. Like a walk in a mediterranean olive grove with a glass of Islay Whisky. Oven fire gone out with spent coal, juniper, olives, resin, licorice, fishing boat (ropes, kelp, fish, seashell minerality, peat, ozone, green tea and Lemon chicken. On the palate it is well-balanced, spirit driven and naked, enticing! Flintiness joins in as well as a sweet oily maltiness. Pure Islay with finesse!
Overall, I am quite impressed with this debut. Well picked, Markus!
You can get these drams, prices and pictures on the website: www.theshiningdram.com