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A weekly exploration of the whisky world brought to you by World Whisky Day. Join us in celebrating the water of life on 16 May 2015
Whisky shots
Scotch mist: An eerie landscape of kilning barley emerges from the smoke during the malting process at Balvenie Distillery, Dufftown, Scotland. Picture by David Anderson.

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Around the world in 80 drams

In the first stop in our exploration of the world's whiskies we travel to Germany, a country with a proud brewing and distilling history, which is perhaps not immediately associated with whisky. Thousands of family-run microdistilleries across Germany have produced fruit spirits and korn (a grain spirit) for centuries. Whisky production is a relatively new, but fast-growing area.

Robert Fleischmann established Germany's first single malt distillery in 1983 (Blaue Maus), but it is only within the last five years that so many distilleries have started to produce whisky alongside their traditional fruit spirit output as its popularity has soared with German drinkers. In the south of the country, the law permits farms to produce up to 300 litres of alcohol, traditionally from crops like apple and pear, but many have branched into producing whisky, often using the same equipment they used for making schnapps. In the north, there is a tradition of making korn from grain and many producers will now mature the spirit in wood and sell it as whisky.
The strict definitions and the laws that govern maturation and ingredients in Scotch whisky do not apply in Germany and a lot of the whisky is released relatively young. It may be a very different drink from Scottish single malts, and will be best enjoyed if approached as such. However, there are now a number of well-respected German distilleries making whiskies that stand up to comparison with the best in the world.

Number of distilleries
Tens of thousands make fruit spirits with around 250 of these making some whisky. Around 130 would describe themselves as whisky distilleries.

Notable distilleries
Blaue Maus is the oldest single malt distillery, based in Neuses/Eggolsheim.
Lantenhammer in Bavaria has been selling Slyrs whisky since 2002.  

The home market
Germans love whisky and are an important market for Scotch whisky as the fifth largest importer in the world.  

Slyrs Bavarian Single Malt (Sherry Edition No. 3, finished in Pedro Ximénez casks if you can get it).
For richer, for poorer
Each issue, we recommend the best ways to spend your whisky pocket money – on a budget and for a special occasion.
On a budget
The World Atlas of Whisky by Dave Broom will let you explore the ever-expanding world of whisky from the comfort of your own hearth, with slippers on and a dram in hand. Tasting notes for more than 350 whiskies.
GBP 30
For a special occasion
World Whiskies Awards 2015 Winners Tasting Set a true taste of the best world whiskies out there. Five 3cl drams of spectacular, award-winning expressions including Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique.
GBP 56.95
My whisky world
Allen Gibbon
With more than 15 years of experience in the drinks trade, including as the Group Chief Executive for the International Wine and Spirit Competition, Allen Gibbons has the inside track on some of the finest wines and spirits available to humanity. Here he gives us the who, what, where, when and why of his whisky world.

Do you remember your first taste of whisky?
As a child I used to be given a tot of whisky in hot milk when I was ill. Hot milk without whisky really doesn’t taste the same. Then, as an adult, I developed a taste for Irish whiskey which was an unwelcome development for my Scottish father, and getting him to buy me one was always amusing.

What is it that you love about whisky?
I just love the range of flavours and origins of whisky and the stories surrounding them. If you think that in addition to the traditional Scotch, Irish and North American versions, you can relatively easily get hold of Japanese, English, Welsh, Alpine – each with its own distinct story.

Where is your favourite place in the world to enjoy a whisky?
The bar at The Caledonian Club in London comes to mind, as does the 21 Club in New York but I think I will have to go for Sugar Bar at the East Hotel in Hong Kong at night looking along the skyline of Hong Kong Island.

What was the most enjoyable dram you ever drank?
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the International Wine and Spirit Competition, a special blended whisky was created with whiskies from many of the distilleries across Scotland. That would definitely have to be the one.

If you could enjoy a whisky with anyone, who would it be?
I think the best thing about enjoying a whisky is the conversation and stories, so it would have to be someone with a few to tell, and who loves their whisky of course. Either Mark Twain or Keith Richards, though whether I could survive an evening with either is open to question!
Here's what caught our eye on the world whisky web this week. Spotted something you think we'd like? Drop us a line!

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