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 before use.
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 whisky.
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 Sea.
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