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Issue 8 - God bless Herr Bourbon

Whisky Magazine Issue 8
February 2000

 

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God bless Herr Bourbon

Heinz Taubenheim's grand passions have made him the toast of the American whiskey world. Susanne and Juergen Deibel meet the genie behind the bourbon bottles

Buried deep in the valleys of the Hunsrueck in western Germany, is the sleepy little village of Griebelschied. There, on what is known locally as Bourbonstreet, is an old converted garage. Step inside and you will be greeted by an astonishing sight, for here is one of the largest American bourbon collections in the world.

Its owner is Heinz Taubenheim who always has a warm welcome ready for visitors to his bar. Any whisk(e)y lover feels immediately at home, surrounded by more than 1,000 bottles, seductively gleaming in the soft lamplight. Surely this has to be the biggest collection in Germany, Europe or even in the world? Heinz Taubenheim demurs, saying only, “It is the biggest collection in Griebelschied, which means more bottles than inhabitants.”

The start of his collection dates back to the late 1960s when he became fascinated by America. American soldiers were billeted in the area so he could witness the American way of life at first hand. As his love affair with the culture grew, so it persuaded him to look more closely at its tradition and history. It wasn't his intention to amass a big collection, but he soon realised that what he was gathering had tremendous potential. The collection then outgrew his house and so he converted his old garage into a picturesque bar to hosts today's huge array of bottles. Each one has its own story and is photographed, catalogued, numbered, then placed on its shelf and destined never to be opened.

Herr Taubenheim really can...

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