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Issue 72 - 08 February 2017
 
Whisky Capitals
 
Berlin scene
From Bowie to Berghain, Berlin has long reigned as the capital of cool. Whether you're cruising around Kreuzberg or meandering around Museum Island, Berlin's whisky scene is sure to have something to quench your thirst. We spoke to whisky enthusiast and blogger Tim Glittenberg of Whisky Helden (Whisky Heroes) to get a Berliner's perspective on Germany's modern capital and its drinking scene.

Where are the best places to have a whisky in Berlin?
The whisky selection of the Union Jack whisky pub is amazing. The range – from usual supermarket single malts all the way up to really limited and rare bottlings – is stunning. Actually, this nice, compact and old-fashioned pub offers 401 different types of whisky. The employees are more than friendly and you can have lovely and long conversations with them about whisky. Besides whisky, the pub also serves food and a great selection of German, English and Irish beer. So if you want to taste some whiskies from off the beaten track, come here.

Where would you enjoy a whisky cocktail?
That’s really hard to say, because in Berlin you have a huge number of very good cocktail bars. But if I had to decide, I would go to a bar called Reingold in a small residential street in Berlin Mitte. The bar/lounge has a wonderful 1920s vibe and speakeasy style, which is also reflected in the uniforms of the employees. The drinks are outstanding and prepared with a lot of passion. Perfect spot to have a drink before or after dinner.

Where would you go to dram and dine?
We have a lot of fine dining restaurants and several locations that were awarded with a Michelin Star, but I am not sure if there is a restaurant that combines food and drinks in their normal course of business. Food pairing is very in common in Berlin, but more in the context of events. If you like good sushi in a well-designed restaurant then I would recommend the Vox restaurant with its impressive open kitchen in the Grand Hyatt Berlin hotel. Here you can choose from 304 different types of whisky from all over the world (even from New Zealand or France). If sushi is not your favourite food and you like traditional Scottish cuisine with your whisky then visit the Loch Ness Scottish Pub and Whisky Bar and go for beef and beans or haggis and choose from over 700 whiskies.
“Hidden bars are a big trend in Berlin and nowadays almost every district has its own”
Glina
How about distilleries?
The Glina distillery in Brandenburg (the federal state next to Berlin) can be reached within an hour’s drive. It has its own whisky shop and visitor centre and has been welcoming visitors since 2016 and offers enjoyable distillery tours. Glina offers a wide range of whiskies from different cask types and has won the bronze medal at Germany’s Best Whisky Awards 2016.
 
Where would you shop for whisky?
In Berlin we have many excellent whisky retailers, each with years of experience and great selections. One of my favourites is the Big Market, Germany’s biggest whisky shop with more than 3,000 different whiskies. You also have the opportunity to taste a dram from more than 400 open bottles (price per sample depends on bottle price). If you are a big fan of Laphroaig like me, than there is no better whisky shop than Wein & Whisky in Berlin Schöneberg with its own beautiful, peatylicious Laphroaig Lounge that was built in cooperation with the brand in 2016.
 
Where would you find a whisky hidden gem?
Hidden bars are a big trend in Berlin and nowadays almost every district has its own. Tucked away in alleyways and behind unmarked wooden doors, these bars often serve great drinks. But be careful these bars are sometimes so hidden that even locals can’t find them! I can recommend the Buck and Breck in Berlin Mitte. It has standing space for just 14 people, and taking pictures is not allowed. The skilled team also serves their own signature drinks. It’s best to make a reservation for the weekend.
 
And if you’ve only got 24 hours in the city?
Only 24 hours? Better hurry up! There are a lot of places you have to visit. I would start my day having a good breakfast in one of the numerous small coffee shops in Kreuzberg (i.e Bateau Ivre). Afterwards, I would relax at the Haubentaucher, a pretty cool location in summer with its own pool, refreshing drinks and live music. If I get hungry, I would have a late lunch at one of the famous street food markets, for example the Neue Heimat market next to the Haubentaucher. With all that energy, I would then move on to the Torstraße, a street that is famous for its long bar strip, good restaurants and nightlife. After some drinks and whiskies at the Reingold bar near Torstraße, I would end my evening with a Döner or Currywurst at Curry 36, both are famous Berlin midnight snacks.

Where to next?
Next in our series of whisky capitals is Hong Kong. Where would you recommend? Let us know your suggestions for bars, restaurants, shops and sights. 
Your Hong Kong tips
 
50 Shorts – 'Initiation'  

As part of our 50 Shorts series – 50 films celebrating the humour, culture and wonderful weirdness of whisky – we've been out on the fields recreating a traditional cooper's initiation ceremony by rolling our founder down a hill in a barrel ... 
More shorts for me
 
My whisky world
 
Rebecca Wood
Rebecca Wood was brought up in the heart of Moray surrounded by some of the world's greatest distilleries. So, it was no surprise when she decided a career in the whisky industry was for her. Since leaving education, Rebecca has been a key team member of the Gordon & MacPhail and Benromach families, rising through the ranks to become the current Benromach Brand Home Manager. Based at the Forres distillery, Rebecca is now an expert on all things Benromach, and even has time to teach her dad a thing or two about whisky.

Do you remember your first taste of whisky?
I do indeed. Or rather the first taste of whisky I truly enjoyed. My first job in the industry was working in the Gordon & MacPhail retail shop, and in my first week my boss took me through lots of different expressions to figure out what I liked so I could offer customers tastings. It was quite an experience being faced with all these wonderful malts and the one that stood out to me was a Gordon & MacPhail Glenburgie Retail Exclusive, which was released for the Spirit of Speyside whisky festival in 2010; a 1997 single cask malt whisky that has really stayed with me and started my love for whisky.

What is it that you love about whisky?
There is always something new to learn and discover about whisky. I love being able to tell visitors to the distillery the stories behind the dram they’re tasting and it’s great to hear other people’s stories and experiences of whiskies from around the world. I learn something new at work every day!

What's your favourite place in the world to enjoy a whisky?
Living in Lossiemouth on the Moray coast, there is nothing quite like enjoying a dram in the comfort of my warm living room, where I can relax and savour it.

What was the most enjoyable dram you’ve ever drank?
I only get to pick one? That’s a hard one! My favourite right now is the Benromach Peat Smoke. I was surprised when I discovered how much I enjoyed it as I’m not usually a fan of peated whiskies however I have a sweet tooth and the Benromach Peat Smoke is a wonderfully fruity and smoky single malt – the perfect balance for me. 

If you could prop up the bar and enjoy a whisky with anyone, who would it be?
It would have to be my dad. Since I started working in the industry, he has developed a keen interest in whisky and is always eager to learn about the process of making the whisky and the latest expressions. He’ll always ask my opinion of which whisky we should be enjoying on Christmas Day after our dinner. Plus, it’s always nice to know that I can teach him a thing or too as well.
 
 
Aftershots
 
Here's what caught our eyes on the world whisky web this week. Spotted something you think we'd like? Give us a shout!
 
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Save the date
 
World Whisky Day is on 20 May 2017.
Visit www.worldwhiskyday.com for more information.

 
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