Some years ago there was a bunch of whisky enthusiast living in the small town of Stauning in western Jutland. The liked drinking whisky and had a tradition of meeting with friends where everybody had to bring a bottle of whisky. They decided to try something new – instead of just buying a bottle of whisky every time they met up they would try to make it themselves.
Nine friends join together and started to produce whisky – it was a bit of a low budget production. One of the friends had an old butchery shop – and in the back of this shop there was a room where the butcher used to slaughter animals to sell in the shop. He no longer did this – but the building was still licensed for food production – so they could start the production of whisky in this building. They did so and started to use different tools – they didn’t have any equipment to grind the barley after it was ready – but fortunately the butcher had an old large meat grinder which could be used for barley as well. The same sort of innovation was used for smoking the barley.
They managed to make enough spirits to fill a barrel and then they just had to wait. They waited for a while until Jim Murray the author of the Whisky Bible came to Denmark. He would like to try to taste some local whiskies – but there weren’t a lot of products around in Denmark – the friends from Stauning were asked to serve some of their products. But they said – it is too early our whisky isn’t ready yet. They were convinced to try to serve the very young spirit for Murray. Murray were impressed and said this could be one of the best smoked whiskies in the world – he asked how much they planned to produce a year. They said – 200 liters maybe 400 liters and that’s it. Not impressive and not enough to sell on any kind of market.
The friends considered what to do next – and they decided to try and scale up the production a bit. They bought an old farm a bit outside the city of Stauning and started producing Stauning whisky. They did have a lot of success including some international awards including an award for the best international malt whisky less than 12 years old.
The success gave international interest in the company and Diagoe who owns a few other whisky brands like Jack Daniels and a series of different scotch whiskies in addition to Guinness beer. They put up a lot of money and the production have left the old farm building and moved into several large buildings next door to the old farm.
The old farm is stilled used by the distillery as a large shop and the starting point of tours of the distillery. Unfortunately there are restrictions on tours for the moment so we were not able to go inside the distillery buildings – but they did do a tour around the place where we could look into the buildings from the outside. It was interesting to listen to the story of how a little group of people from a little village in the middle of nowhere manage to break into the international whisky scene in a few years.
The production is still centered around the local area. The water come from the local water works and the barley is grown within a distance of only five kilometers from the distillery. To smoke the whisky they actually use local plants as well – the area around Stauning is dominated by heathland so they use heather plant to create the smoke for the whisky giving it a special local flavor.
The tour of the plant was free so if you like whisky it is an obvious place to stop by if you are in the neighborhood. I am not sure the tours will still be free when they hopefully open for indoors visits again soon.