Køge south of Copenhagen is known for many things in Denmark – but the town is
now hitting the international scene with uisquebaugh that has taken the
International Wine and Spirit Competition in London somewhat by storm.
The Braunstein micro-distillery in Køge can now boast four medals for its
whiskies, the best of which took a gold medal.
Several thousand products from across the world took part in the
multi-category, 44-year-old competition, but it is the first time that a
Danish whisky has won such a high award.
Before hanging its gold medal around its bottleneck, Braunstein Cask Edition
No. 4 Whisky had to run the palate gauntlet of 300 experienced whisky judges
in a blind tasting epic that judged both technical and chemical content.
“High strength gives great lift to all the sugary aromatics. Barley sugar
mingles with bourbon along with some fudge and caramel. Firm flow through
the mouth with attractive malty and barley notes along with a strong fruit
cake character. Well developed aromatic finish,” the judges said of the five
year-old single malt whisky.
Single malt simply means that the whisky is not blended with other malts. Malt
simply means a grain – in this case barley – that has been allowed to sprout
Claus Braunstein, who runs the Braunstein distillery, was confident he could
match some of the best.
“We tasted some of the whiskies that have won in previous years and we felt
that ours could easily match previous prize winners. So we entered it,”
Braunstein says in a news release.
The Braunstein Cask Edition No. 4 Whisky was not the only Braunstein to win
medals. Another of its 5-year-old single malts took a Silver Outstanding
award for having “Golden syrup and barley sugar on the nose with oloroso
notes and gentle fruit. … Fairly firm flow with good nougat flavours
developing with time. Fresh, firm , clean finish.”
Two other whiskies – a single malt and a blend – both won silver medals.
Interestingly enough, another whisky that made the Gold grade came from
Denmark’s former possession, Tycho Brahe’s island of Hven in the mid-Sound
between Denmark and Sweden. With a name reminiscent of the island’s famous
astronomer, the Seven Stars No.1 Dubhe Single Malt Whisky added a touch of
liquorice to the judges’ experience to earn it a gold medal.
Dubhe - for those who may not know, is the brightest of the seven stars that
form the Big Dipper in the Ursa Major constellation.
Truth be told there remains one more step before Braunstein and the Spirit of
Hven Backafallsbyn distilleries hit the absolute top league of Gold
Outstanding – but they’re close.
And for those who may be interested in etymology: Uisquebaugh, which means
water of life or aqua vitae, is the Scottish Gaelic for the golden drops. In
Irish Gaelic the word is Uisce beatha. The English, with their lackadaisical
linguistic interest, avoided the effort of pronouncing either Gaelic word,
and with their penchant for maltreating other languages - simply dubbed it
Scandinavians also have their aqua vitae of a somewhat different composition.
Known as akvavit in Denmark and Sweden, akevitt in Norway, akvaviitti in
FInland and ákavíti in Iceland, it lends itself rather better as a Nordic
gastronomic complement than its cousins yonder Hadrian’s Wall and the Irish
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