Virgin Kilian Five ~ Whisky made in Germany – Whisky News

Virgin Kilian Five

Whisky made in Germany

Ernie Scheiner, The Gateway to Distilleries

Sankt Kilian Distillers of Lower Frankonia stand for an exemplary innovation on the German and international whisky market. Master Distiller and Managing Director Mario Rudolf may draw to the full. The equipment of the distillery is largely Scottish, the temperature controlled wooden fermenters are from Dufftown, the onion shaped short neck pot stills were manufactured by Forsyth in Rothes. The Irish distilling expert David F. Hynes – Cooley and Great Northern – implemented also Irish tradition into the distilling process by fitting a water cooled reflux pipe into the lyne arm of the spirit still. German craftsmen set up the pipes and wires. The inter-European cooperation lead to a unique state of the art distillery in a small village Rüdenau near the Main River. Non-peated barley comes from the region and is malted exclusively by the Maltster Weyermann whereas Boort Malt from Glenesk in Angus supplies peated malt varieties (54ppm).  Mario Rudolf who is a Master Brewer with a degree in Brewing is the first German distiller to cultivate the Scottish barley variety Laureate by a biological farmer in a neighbouring village this year.

The first peated and non-peated spirits were double distilled in 2016. They mature in a huge variety of casks. Over 200 different cask types modify the aromas of the spirits in steel racked warehouses at the distillery. Thousands of casks lie in a nearby Bunkers which were used by the U.S. Army during the Cold War.

The origin of the casks, their different sizes and various sorts of wood – in the European Union distillers may use any kind of wood for their whisky maturation – allow the Kilian distilling team to experiment the impact of charred, toasted wood from oak to mulberry, acacia et cetera. In the racks you may find casks which held Bourbon, white or red wine, rum, Sherry, cider, beer or even Jägermeister. The large variety of wood is highly exceptional in the whisky industry and makes for rather astonishing aroma profiles. Rudolf and his young team generate a diversified portfolio of whiskies that is rather exceptional in Germany and Europe. The annual production capacity was 200 000 LPA in 2019. Rudolf has developed wood management to perfection.

Investor and owner Andreas Thümmler, who is from Rüdenau where the distillery is located, has been persueing strategies to become the best German whisky producer. The corporate finance manager is a whisky enthusiast and collector. He has created a trusting framework in which his team can work creatively. The previous four St. Kilian Signature Editions as well as the multipied Distillery only bottlings have proved the positive results of their whisky making approach. The reception of Kilian whiskies has been consistently positive: Jurors of the latest World Whisky Awards 2020 voted St. Kilian the best Single Malt of Germany.

Not only Kilian‘s cask management is innovative and exemplary. In October 2019 German and Austrian Distillers made an excursion – organized by The Gateway to Distilleries – to the prominent tonelerias in Montilla and Jerez. The impact was tremendous. Just recently Mario Rudolf has initiated a sherry-liqueur wine experiment in an most inspiring way. His objective is to find out in which kind of Andalusian barrel their peaty and non-peaty spirits receive and develop a diversified aroma profile. Not many small scale distilleries can afford such a mid-term project.

“From the following five tonelerias with the corresponding Bodegas we recently received a truckload of great barrels directly from Andalusia:

– Toneleria Tevasa Jerez – Bodegas Baron Sanlúcar de Barrameda

– Toneleria Hudo Jerez – Bodegas Williams & Humbert Jerez

– Toneleria del Sur (Casknolia) Montilla

– Bodegas Xeranthia Jerez and Bodega Malaga Virgen Malaga (Casknolia)

– Toneleria Juan Pino Montilla – Bodegas Sanchez Romate Jerez

– Toneleria Rodriguez Montilla – Bodegas Navarro and Rodriguez Montilla.”

From these cooperages and bodegas, which are largely appreciated worldwide among whisky makers, Kilian distillery selected casks seasoned with either Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez liqueur wines. In Spring 2020 they had recieved butts from the toneleria Paez in Jerez. Very special casks which held previously Manzanilla wine – a rather dry sherry from Palomino grapes came from the cooperage Tevasa in Jerez. The casks were seasoned in a renowned Bodega in the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Other hogsheads came from a famous Jerez Bodega not to be named.

Virgin Oak influences the new Kilian FIVE

The latest St. Kilian Signature Edition FIVE was realeased on the German Whisky Day 2020, 27th June. Whiskies blended from virgin casks only is quite a challenge for any whisky maker, because of the structural impact of the tannins from the oak. The Kilian whiskies of the vatting matured over three years in five different virgin-oak casks to create an aromatic and challenging composition of flavours. The fast maturing Kilian spirit, the mild climate of the region, the warehouses and the exceptional wood of the virgin casks have induvidually contributed to the character of the Signature Malt. It seems as if the spirit plays well with the tannins of the oak wood regarding the aroma profile. Rudolf proudly says: “Soft, rounded aromas and mild taste of delicately spiced oak convey the feeling of a refreshing walk though the woods. The vatting is a result of five different geographical destinations of the oak barrels. They come from cooperages in Hungary, Germany and America.“

The Kilian Single Malt Whisky “Made in Germany” is made of 100% German barley malted by the Franconian Malster Weyermann. A long fermentation period guaranteed a high level of fruitiness of the wash. The high reflux of heavy alcohols in the spirit still and a gentle double distillation formed an aromatic clean spirit with notes of ripe apples and pears. It is the basis of the new unpeated Kilian Edition.

For the Cuvée FIVE Master Blender Rudolf selected a range of whiskies which were drawn exclusively from virgin oak casks, i.e. they absolutely had not held any liquid before filling with Kilian malt spirits. Within a period of only about three years they have developed aroma profiles perfectly well. The individual impact of the virgin casks is shown in the five deconstruction samples. From subtle sweetness to prominent spicyness, from light to dark fruit. It is a variation of its kind. The smaller the cask the more colour and tannins appear.

Rudolf’s vatting recipe is quite astonishing. Full transparency is his production policy. Aroma and taste of the Kilian Signature Edition FIVE were largely influenced by the following cask selection. The aroma comes from:

34% from a 190 l cask made of American white oak, charring level three, by the Cooperages ISC and East Bernstadt, U.S.

26% from a 190 l cask set up with European oak by an Austrian cooperage. Rudolf: „They are very rare casks and no longer in production as European oak is very difficult to handle for this size of casks. They had a tendency of leaking.“

20% from a 200 l cask, a special hybrid barrel made of charred American oak staves and toasted French oak staves by World Cooperage, U.S.

13% from a 50 l cask, German fine grain Palatian oak – Traubeneiche -, medium toasted plus, Cooperage Markus Eder, Germany

7% from a 100 l cask made of Hungarian sessile oak by the coopers of Dolium Cask and Timber Manufacturing Ltd., Budapest 

What does the new Kilian Five taste like?

St Kilian‘s latest creation offers an amber colour with some slight reddish reflections. Strong but not pungent alcohol impressions flow into the nose which are followed by an impressive bundle of sweet fruity notes of dark fruit. One might also think of some freshly pressed quince juice. These impressions are joined by subtle woody aromas, accompanied by a prominent spicy herbal note plus some fresh ginger tones. The alcohol as such is very well integrated and by no means dominant on the palate. Pronounced long lasting sweetness and a smooth oiliness make the Fiver a pleasant and charming dram despite its high bottling alcohol concentration of 52,5 % abv. However, the finish is rather dry. Vanilla notes reverberate discreetly, sweetness and fruity impressions are lingering slowly.

Master Distiller and Blender Rudolf presents an exciting and harmoniously well balanced German Whisky. Edition Five has got an international rarity value due to the originality of its virgin cask recipe. The young Single Malt is a pleasure and delight. It tastes delicious and has got a pleasant smooth mouthfeel. The new Kilian is a tasty and charming whisky. However, by addition of some drops of still water the whisky some of its exciting character shaping spicy notes will be vanishing. The Kilian Signature Edition Five is not artificially coloured with sugar caramel and not chill-filtered. It is bottled in a designed bottle which represents the shape of the spirit still.

The high alcohol content of 52.5 % vol. gives this edition, which is limited to 6,000 bottles, a rather stringent aromatic appearance. Rudolf: “The wash was distilled between October 2016 and April 2017 and the mélange was created in April 2020.” The final result is a profound German whisky with a high rarity value. Above all, this non-peated Kilian version is pleasing nose and palate, too. It is a fine tipple.

The Kilian Signature Edition Five is available in miniature bottles 0.05 l. The whisky may be ordered directly from Sankt Kilian distillery or at whisky retailers in Germany. Recommended retail price is 39,90 Euro for a  0,5 l bottle.

Contact: (there is no English version)

Please see also: The Gateway to Distilleries at

Saint Kilian is happy Part 1

Sanz Kilian is happy Part 2

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress