Whisky Connosr

Blaue Maus Distillery, Germany

By Dominic Roskrow

I know a German whisky writer who is extremely well respected in the industry. He is a Keeper of the Quaich, a recognition by the Scottish industry of the contribution he has made to the promotion and celebration of Scottish whisky. He is a good man.

Bernard, my friend, put that in your pipe and smoke it

But he refuses - point blank - to accept that any good whisky will ever be made in central Europe, and particularly in a German-speaking country.

"If they were meant to have produced whisky, they would have done it centuries ago," he rages. "Germans are meant to make beer and fruit liqueurs. They simply cannot make whisky."

I like my friend but he is wrong. We have discussed holding events where we each present the arguments for and against Europe, while tasting some of the whiskies from Belgium, France, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

I have always been confident that i could win these debates on any territory, including in Scotland. But now I know without doubt I would win. I could even do it by using whisky samples from just one German distillery: Blaue Maus.

There are not many European distilleries outside Scotland and Ireland that can boast that they have a 25-year-old malt, but Germany's Blaue Maus is a pretty special distillery altogether.

Let's start with the name. It means 'blue mouse' and it is not the only wacky whisky being produced by the company. Other whiskies include Gruner Hund (Green Dog) and Schwarzer Pirat (Black Pirate).

Then there is the whisky itself. Let's get something straight. This is not Scottish single malt whisky and is not trying to be, nor is it bourbon pr Irish whiskey - but that does not mean it cannot be great.

And Blaue Maus does make great whisky. Adjust your taste buds, throw away your prejudices, and approach these whiskies as if they were a brand new drinks category all of their own, and you may find yourself enjoying a roller-coaster ride.

Taste is subjective of course; however, if you find the right wavelength then this is malt nectar - honeyed, toffee, milk chocolate delights, each of the range (and there are more than 10 of them) a soft and subtle delight.

Robert Fleischmann set up the distillery in 1980, on the same site as the original family grocery and tobacco business in Eggolsheim, to make brandy. In 1983 it made its first whisky. The distillery says the first attempts were poor, but Fleischmann took the view that practice makes perfect. Interestingly a 25 year old released in 2008 is very good, so either the early efforts were not so bad or maturation has worked wonders.

Since then the distillery has blossomed, developing a maritime theme reflected in its Spinnaker whiskies. It started selling whiskies commercially in 1996 and has expanded its range, which now includes Austrasier and Old Fahr.

Now run by Robert's son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Petra, it bottles single cask whiskies under a range of names. Every sample I've tasted was a a total treat.

Not just great German whisky, then, but great whisky period.

Now Bernard, my old German whisky writing friend, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

This feature originally appeared in my book The World's Best Whiskies - 750 Whiskies from Tain to Tokyo