Well, this one takes a bit of explanation. Let’s start with where it’s from.
If you look this bottle up on Whiskybase, it states that The Alrik is made by Hercynian Distilling Co. / Hammerschmiede. Then, if you check that distillery, you’ll see Elsburn, The Alrik and Willowburn as their main brands.
However, what you don’t see is Glen Els, one of Germany’s most well-known single malt brands. The strange thing is that when you look up Glen Els itself you’ll also find The Alrik and Willowburn, but other bottlings too.
As it turns out the Scotch Whisky Association was nagging about a non-Scottish distillery using the word ‘glen’ in their name and has been annoying enough for them to rename the brand.
Then about how the hell I got a bottle of this?
I didn’t go to Germany recently, especially not since May 2020, when this bottling came out. I only bought it last January.
Right after Whiskybase released their annual statistics. Highest rated distilleries and whiskies, and more information like that. What stood out was that The Alrik is one of the most consistently high scoring distilleries in their entire base. This triggered my interest, since I had never heard of it.
Of course, the highest scoring bottles were going for a small fortune on the Marketplace, but I found one that I found acceptably priced. Acceptably only because of me being able to use it in a tasting. What I didn’t see (because I’m an idiot) is that it’s only a 50cl bottle instead of 70cl. The bottle was actually 40% more expensive than I figured until I took it out of the box a few days later. Whoops!
Back to reviewing this, then! A wood smoked single malt from Germany. There’s no age statement, so my guess is that it’s pretty young. Without trying to sound dismissive, but something we have to keep in mind. Heavily sherried whiskies of this color are far more popular in Germany than they are elsewhere. They’re popular here too, but Germans are well known for their voracious appetite for dark whiskies like this. With this bottle being available only in Walkenried, this might affect the average score on Whiskybase not insignificantly.
Massive wood smoke notes, very different to peat smoke. Much more bacon like, and barbecue-y. Sour cherries, almonds, some milk chocolate. It might be suggestive because of the German provenance, but it reminds me of Schwarzwälder Kirsch Torte.
The palate is really fatty, with lots of wood-smoke-soot. Barbecue notes and quite some chili pepper bite. Almonds, chocolate, sour cherries, sponge cake. But the wood smoke is rather dominant. Barley notes too.
The finish is a bit more focused on the wood for maturation instead of the wood for smoking. Just as fruity, but more barley distillate driven than before.
This is a dark whisky, and hugely interesting. It’s a shame it’s so expensive to get through the secondary market. It’s really good, and very different from peat smoked whisky, and that is a rather novel approach for a single malt.
Well, I think I’m on the same page as ‘zee Germans’ in this case. The sherry notes are quite big on this wee whisky, but it’s nicely countered by the even more ridiculously big notes of wood smoke and barbecue. It’s a completely ridiculous whisky, in a way. But utterly delicious in another. I’m seriously considering getting another one to ‘test consistency’. That might have to wait a little while though.