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Taking On The Scots: Germany Distillers Swap Schnapps For Single Malts

on 26/02/11 at 10:16 am


Cornelia Bohn

The Germans, it seems, are not content with just making world-famous beer and schnapps. Now they are taking on the Scots at their own game, with a growing number of distillers producing single malt whiskey. And the results, say connoisseurs, are impressive.

With its exposed brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows, the room could pass for the foyer of a boutique hotel — were it not for the gleaming copper still that occupies pride of place along one wall. It is here that master distiller Cornelia Bohn is preparing another batch of malt whiskey. Her distillery is not located in the remote Highlands of Scotland, however, but in the tiny village of Schonermark in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, about an hour’s drive from Berlin.

Bohn is one of a growing number of Germans who are applying their considerable brewing and schnapps-making skills to the ancient Scottish art of single malt whiskey. And they don’t lack confidence when it comes to taking on the Scots at their own game.

“My whisky will reflect the open spaces and rolling hills of my countryside,” says Bohn, who owns the Preussische Whiskey distillery in Schonermark. “It will be a polarizing whiskey, and it won’t be everyone’s darling.”

Bohn, who is one of very few female whiskey distillers in the world, began studying the art of whiskey making in 2006. She got serious about her passion when she bought and renovated a decrepit 160-year old stable in her village and began making whiskey. Her first single malt will hit the market at the end of 2012, after the necessary three-year maturation period.

The label on her bottle, whose name translates as “Prussian Whiskey,” shows a rearing black horse wearing a Prussian military helmet. The message is clear: This is a proud German whiskey that is not trying to emulate its Scottish ancestors.

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