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Issue 23 - From Eau-de-Vie to Uisge Beatha

Whisky Magazine Issue 23
June 2002


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From Eau-de-Vie to Uisge Beatha

Alex Kraaijeveld looks at the growth of alternative distillers worldwide – and he likes what he sees

A revolution is spreading through the whisky world. Not on a scale of the introduction of the Coffey still in the course of the 19th century, but it does involve a new type of whisky still. The last decade has seen a blossoming of distilleries making whisky in stills designed for other spirits. At least 20 distilleries around the world which distil eaux-de-vie and other fruit spirits have employed their stills for making whisky. Join me on a tour of these distilleries and let me introduce you to the people behind them and the wide variety of whiskies from eau-de-vie stills.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the cradle of this new family of whiskies stands in the heartland of fruit schnapps production: German-speaking central Europe. One of the very first people – in the early 1980s – to start producing whisky in a schnapps still was Robert Fleischmann ( The Blaue Maus Distillery in the village of
Eggolsheim in Frankonia, southern Germany, is part of his nautically-themed tavern and this is reflected in the names of some of his single malts. Besides Blaue Maus, the distillery presently produces Schwarzer Pirat, Krottentaler and Spinnaker. All Fleischmann's whiskies are distilled twice from non-peated malt and matured for about eight years. Behind the different whiskies, Robert tells me mysteriously, are “different types of malt and different casks”. For whisky from a second Frankonian distillery we have to wait rather longer. In Reiner and Ursula M...

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