Whisky Connosr

Slyrs - Whisky's best kept secret

By Dominic Roskrow

With all the talk over the last few months about the growing importance of world whisky, the many distillers in the German-speaking countries - Austria, Switzerland and Germany - must look on with a sense of bemusement.

It's no-one's fault that they tend to go under the radar

There are scores of distilleries in Europe producing whisky, from the odd annual barrel to a significant amount of malt over several expressions - and yet they rarely get written or talked about.

It's no-one's fault that they tend to go under the radar. Many sell all their output without needing to promote or publicise themselves, and many have built up a healthy business within their own country and without the need to export. But there are good distilleries making quality whisky across Europe, and they warrant exploration.

Bavarian distillery Slyrs has built a solid reputation since it was established just over 10 years ago and with a production now of 65,000 bottles it is a sizeable business, but one that remains confined to Germany.

Slyrs marketing assistant Anja Summers says that the company's growth is part of a trend.

"We can see that there is a growing interest in whisky in Germany," she says. "You could say that whisky is on the increase in general at the moment, not just in Germany but also in neighbouring European countries. We are happy to count both older and younger people amongst our customers."

Slyrs has been distilling since 1999 and launched its first whisky in 2002. It matures its malt in new 225 litre American white oak barrels. So virgin oak plays a key role in the development of a Bavarian malt flavour?

"Yes. A mix of the traditional production process and the Bavarian climate give our whisky a unique taste. We distil with passion and love, and this gives each vintage its incomparable character. Other factors that make our Whisky special are the Bavarian Malt and the mountain spring water we use for brewing and the special shape of our pot stills."

This Spring the distillery plans to release a Slyrs whisky that has been matured special sherry casks, and a new cask strength whisky in Autumn - but don't expect to see any of it in The United Kingdom just yet. "Our first goal of course is to produce a consistently outstanding product, to strengthen our brand and to increase sales especially the sale of our product in all parts of Germany," says Anja Summers. "But we have no plans the export our product to other countries because our production volume is not big enough at the moment."

That's a shame - but if you're in Germany or have the chance, pick up a bottle. Slyrs and the likes of Blaue Maus are at the start of a journey for German whisky. And it's only a matter of time before whisky this good wins friends much further afield.