Wieder was Neues im alten Westen!
Die Vesper Bar eröffnet heute Abend
am Kurfürstendamm 160. Nur
geladene Gäste sind heute willkommen,
ab morgen kann jeder in die Bar im Bond-Stil.
27. October 2011
There's a smell of whiskey in the air, rising from the floor, where partakers of the an introductory tasting at Cadeenhead's Whiskey market have poured the water used for rinsing their glasses between whiskey shots. “I go over the floorboards once a monthanyway so they don't creak as much” says Karten Frenz, director of the “informational drinking” sessions that combine the joy of liquor with the conveyance of rigorous expertise. His “students” are encouraged to enjoy themselves while listening to lectures, asking questions and carefully sniffing and nipping at Frenz's 12 year old single malt Glenfiddich and peaty, 16-year old Lagavulin.
Around 15 interested parties have showed up, averaging about 30 years in age, with Eric, 24, and Hauke, 25 forming the low margin of the group agewise. “We just realized that whiskey tastes pretty good” is their sober explanation of why they've attended the tasting today. There's also a lady present: Anna-Amalie is a 25-year old actress, living proof against the clichée of cigar smoking, whiskey swinging older gentlemen. A new generation of whiskey drinkers is on the rise – but can they tell grain from no grain? “For one thing, you should be past the stage of flat-rate binge drinking” says Klaus Pinkernell, owner of Cadenhead's and the man behind the tastings.
If you asked Werner Hertwig, he'd probably agree. “I sell high grade liquor, not narcotics” says Hertwig, who has been running the Wein & Whisky specialty store since 1986, focusing almost exclusively on Scotch single malt, which Hertwig explains have the highest quality, especially in comparison with other customary blends. The magic's in the making: While single malt whiskey is derived from malted barley and distillation, other blends are cut with industrial alcohol. “Those whiskeys that you'd find at a supermarket contain only about 20 percent single malt, the rest is just fusel alcohols, which will most definitely cause head pain” says Hertwig.
Whiskey expert Hertwig started out with 18 types of whiskey – at this point, he has around 2,500 in stock, with high grade whiskey sets costing as much as 3000 euros. A reason for the persistance of the aged and wealthy whiskey drinker-clichée? “My customer base used to be 99 percent men. Now, they barely make up two thirds of the lot”, informs Hertwig. Besides this, his customers keep getting younger. While liquoristos in their 20's might still be lacking the necessary funds, it's especially the group of 30-40 year-olds that's steadily increasing.
A younger and more feminine whiskey market also showed itself at the Cöpenicker Whiskyherbst in September, where Hertwig presented a selection of his single malts to around 3,500 whiskey lovers. But while there's no denying the fact that single malt whiskey is great, Andreas Borrmann is sceptical of its superior classification towards other whiskey brands. Borrmann and his brother run the So Frosch in Friedrichshain, where tastings probing into the landscape of Scotch take place every six weeks.
The Borrmann brothers are blend lovers, and believe that “blends are underrated. If malt is the instrument, then blend is the orchestra”. Take Johnny Walker, which contains over 30 whiskeys, blurring some flavors but mutiplying others. So why does the general consent lean more towards malt? “It's just the hype”, say the Borrmanns.
With this, they're referring to a piece of whiskey history. Before it was industrially exported, whiskey was produced only as single malt in Scotland and Ireland. “The stuff they drank in those days would kill us today”. But soon, tame blends became the only whiskey continental Europe knew - until Glenfiddich that is. Some say the Scottish distillery was simply in luck: After a quarrel with the Distillers Company Limited (DCL), Scotland's leading beverage producers, Glenfiddich was barred access to grain, leaving it unmalted. The only thing left to do was resort to single malt – the rest is history. Glenfiddich is at least partially responsible for the current boom and the leading producer of single malt, invigorating the market with nuances of vanilla, nuts and fresh grass.
Even the Borrmanns in Friedrichshain are profiting from the boom. In 2010, their bar was deemed one of the best German whiskey bars by Whisky Guide Germany, attracting a wild mix of an audience. Especially younger customers are discovering whiskey for themselves as a means to express taste, class and enough cash for a little something special, according to Borrmann. But it's not just about posing around, since whiskey distilliation – just like whiskey consumption – is an artful craft.
Cadenhead’s Whisky Market, Mainzer Straße 20, Berlin-Friedrichshain, Tel. +49 30 30 83 14 44, www.cadenhead-berlin.de