Reisetbauer is a distillery in Austria that produces brandy and whisky. Nein that is not typo, I did say Austria! In 1995 Reisetbauer started distilling malt whisky that was designed to be (and is) distinctly Austrian. The barley used to make the wash is grown on the distillery owner’s four hectares of land and once the wash is distilled the new make spirit is matured in Chardonnay and Trockenbeerenauslese casks sourced exclusively from Austrian vineyards and used by Austrian winemakers Alois Kracher and Heinz Velich. Just in case you are wondering how on Earth to pronounce Trockenbeerenauslese, it is TROCK-en-BEHR-en-OWS-lay-zeh. Quite a mouthful, but as Austrian sounding as Schwarzenegger! (that reminds me, happy birthday Arnie!)
Reisetbauer’s use of Austrian Chardonnay and Trockenbeerenauslese casks to mature their whisky is a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by whisky aged in the bourbon casks, sherry casks or port casks. Wine casks are certainly becoming increasingly popular for ageing or finishing whisky, but the use of Trockenbeerenauslese casks by Reisetbauer is something particularly special. This is because Trockenbeerenauslese is a notoriously expensive dessert wine that is made from grapes that, once affected by a form of fungus known as “noble rot”, are individually selected and handpicked one by one. Shriveled and raisin-like from the “noble rot”, the grapes produce a wine with an intensely sweet and rich flavour.
In this review Malt Mileage tastes the Reisetbauer 12 year old.
The bouquet offers considerable depth and a rich herbal smokiness that immediately indicates that this whisky is very special and unique – the aroma of raspberries, cranberries, forest undergrowth, dry berry bushes, shiitake mushrooms, green olives, hazelnuts, water chestnuts, chocolate licorice bullets, pistachio baklava and sweet vanillas sit over the most curious savoury and sweet herbal notes that carry a whiff of astringent dryness. On the palate the whisky is beautifully balanced with a tug of war breaking out between sweet and dry no doubt the result of the Trockenbeerenauslese casks, and then wisps of smoke drift over crumbling dried herbs and hard herbal candy, cranberries, red berry compote, hazelnuts, earthy snow pea shoots, anise, fennel, oyster sauce, Chinese mushrooms and chocolate. On the finish the herbal notes remain with hints of cough syrup and drying prune notes at the top of the tongue.
Overall, the Reisetbauer 12 year old is an extraordinary whisky that is unmistakably Austrian. Being aged in Austrian Chardonnay and Trockenbeerenauslese casks this whisky is infused with aromas and flavours that will not be easily found in the vast majority of other whiskies on the market. Get the flavour profile of Scotch, Irish or even Japanese whisky out of your head. This is something very different, and yet intriguing and down right delicious! Its deep rich herbal smokiness with fascinating umami undertones is certainly something to be experienced. I’m already salivating for more.
Reisetbauer 12 year old is definitely a whisky to try before you die.