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  • Writer's pictureErnie - Ernst Scheiner

St Kilian: Genesis Whiskies in detail

Updated: May 16


Detailed background


regarding the production of the current St Kilian single malts released in May 2024


  • St Kilian Irish Style

  • St Kilian David's Choice

  • St Kilian Turf Tail Distillers Cut

  • St Kilian Single Cask Ultra Heavily Peated

  • Ketterer Wash




Preliminary remark: St. Kilian’s web shows are popular.


They have now set the standard for German and international presentations. For those who want to look behind the labels, the live productions from Rüdenau in Lower Franconia are recommended. The transparency of whisky production at St. Kilian is exemplary for the whisky industry in general. It is therefore no surprise that the distillery sent around 1,100 sample sets to the whisky nerds for the Genesis Web Tasting.


At the beginning of May 2024, master blender and whisky maker Mario Rudolf presented a series of St. Kilian malts that provide a differentiated insight into the distillation and maturation methods of the distillery in Rüdenau, near the medieval town of Miltenberg am Main. David F. Hynes , the planner of the distillery, and founder Andreas Thümmler told the story of the St. Kilian distillery from their perspective.


St. Kilian’s approach to transparency is exemplary
and is recommended for imitation.


What is special about it?


  • Accompanying sample packages allow parallel tasting and assessment of the whiskies and liqueurs.

  • The barley varieties, malt recipes , fermentation processes and distillation methods, barrel management and maturation are explained in detail. Image information and illustrative films allow guests to visually participate in the production processes being discussed. They are therefore understandable and comprehensible for everyone.

  • The moderators' language is clear and understandable, allowing the content to be absorbed without technocratic gibberish.

  • Accompanying commentary allows viewers to ask questions and thus participate in the presentations.

  • Educational and easily understandable contributions from the scientific and chemical fields explain the phenomena of whisky production even to laypeople. These contribute to a better understanding of whiskies and liqueurs.

  • From a technical point of view, the web shows are staged visually and acoustically in a perfectly professional manner .


  • If you are unable to watch the broadcasts, you can watch them free of charge on YouTube .





St. Kilian Story

A whisky friendship between Rüdenau founder and sole owner Andreas Thümmler and the Irishman David F. Hynes made a project possible in 2012 that has made all the dreams that were imagined at the time come true. Thümmler from Rüdenau, Lower Franconia, had been thinking about a distillery for a long time.


As chance would have it, he got to know and appreciate the then Director of Production of the Cooley Group, Hynes, in Kilbeggan, the oldest Irish distillery still in production today.


Reflux Condenser at St. Kilian. Photo Copyright St. Kilian Distillers.


In short , the result of their friendship was integrated into a distillery that is exceptional in Germany, with a unique set from Scotland: Mash Tun, wooden fermentation vats and two decorative copper Swan Neck Pot Stills from the renowned coppersmiths Forsyths .


Scottish, Irish and German distilling techniques combined to create a state-of-the-art distillery that turned the small town near the romantic market town of Miltenberg into a mecca of the German whisky world.


A real stroke of luck was the recruitment of Mario Rudolf, a graduate maltster and brewer from the Technical University of Munich, who comes from nearby Amorbach. Since 2015, Rudolf has been contributing his competence, creativity and brewing know-how to the St. Kilian team in the distillation of whiskies that have attracted national and international attention. Gold medals pave their path. Commendations such as Distillery of the Year or Distiller of the Year 2024 adorn the walls.



CTO Mario Rudolf

So it's no wonder that Scottish whisky blenders like WOVEN or internationally renowned bottlers like Blackadder are rummaging around in the Kilian maturation warehouses looking for precious items. More Scottish bottlers are in the pipeline and will be released soon.


The German bottler BROTHERS IN MALT selected special single cask bottlings and sells them in handy 50 cl bottles. For example, an ex-Springbank Demerara Rum Cask.


Not only the Israeli team from Milk and Honey or Irish managers from Jameson found out about the complex and innovative production processes at St. Kilian. They were amazed to see the Bunker City, where CTO Mario Rudolf creatively uses over 375 different types of wood and barrels to mature the St. Kilian single malts.



 

Sankt Kilian Genesis Tasting.

Whisky production in detail.


The following presentation provides detailed insights into the creation of St. Kilian Whiskies from Churfranken near Miltenberg am Main. CTO Mario Rudolf and Kilian's mentor David F. Hynes explain the steps and phenomena of whisky production.


1 The Irish Whisky under St Kilian

A single cask bottling in the "Irish style" was made from 100% Pilsner malt by the Weyermann malthouse in Bamberg. The mash, which was fermented for a long time in wooden vats - 65 hours - was distilled twice in the Scottish Swan Neck pot stills. At Kilian, in contrast to many German distilleries, the foreshots and feints are always mixed with the rough spirit from the first distillation stage and always redistilled in the second fine distillation phase. In this way, St. Kilian follows the distillation methods common in Scotland.


In the spirit still, Rudolf deliberately switched on the dephlegator or amplifier built into the Lyne Arm by Hynes. It is a type of pipe coil through which cold, cooling running water can be switched on when required:


...it is a very important component of our distillation, namely our reflux condenser...
you could also call it a bit of an amplifier or dephlegmator...
For us, it is an immensely important component that significantly influences the character of our new makes.


When cooling water flows through the spiral pipe , the so-called reflux of heavy alcohols in the Lyne Arm into the still is increased. Depending on the set flow temperature - warmer or colder - the distiller can not only control the amount of reflux, but also the intensity of the purification of the water-alcohol mixture. At cooling temperatures, the purification of the distillate increases. When the dephlegmator is switched off, the purification decreases. The spirit becomes a little "harsher" and therefore needs longer maturation times in the barrel.


In addition to the natural reflux on the copper bubble walls, the redistillation increases with the addition of the reflux condenser :


"...that means we have multiple distillation.
We get a very smooth, soft spirit,
very pleasant, very sweet..."

Rudolf describes the aromatic and taste effects.


The consequence of a low cooling temperature in the dephlegmator:


"The new make character is finely fruity, clean and very pure."

With a fully cooling reflux condenser , as Kilian calls this Hynes condenser internally, they also slowly and gently distill the non-smoky distillate.


"The special component in the Lyne Arm of the Spirit Still
only the volatile aromas made it into the new make,"

says Mario Rudolf.


"We drove a standard setting
and thus created a multiple distilled Irish style spirit"


Maturation


Five years of maturation in one of St Kilian’s 190 litre first-fill Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey barrels shaped a


"...balanced composition of sweet fruit,
creamy vanilla
and fine toffee notes."

David Hynes looks back


"...at Cooley, a citrus flavor was the standard,
for Kilain it is citrus and vanilla...
harsh notes are completely missing,
it's a sweet style."


Reflux condensers are not uncommon in Irish distilling history. They were found in the Lyne Arms of the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street in Dublin. In the distillery, which was run by the Scotsman John Jameson in 1780, the spirit was initially distilled only twice.


At the Cooley Distillery in Co. Louth, distillation expert David Hynes retrospectively installed a cooling coil in the Lyne Arm of the former Scottish Swan Neck Pot Stills in the fine spirits tank. The Swan Neck Pot Stills came from the Northern Irish Old Comber Distillery , which originally acquired them from the Ben Nevis Distillery. Alongside Dr. John Teeling, the father of the Irish Whiskey Renaissance, David Hynes was Production Director of the Cooley Distillery in Co. Louth, north of Dublin.


The cold water coil allowed the legendary distiller and master blender Noel Sweeney to distill the formation of different new make styles.


"At Cooley, we were able to control the severity of the fire...
it [the cooling coil] is a result of the warm Irish summers,
because we only distilled twice and not three times,"

says Irish distillery expert Hynes.


In the Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk, north of Dublin, which was technically designed by David Hynes, similar condenser systems are currently in operation in the horizontal Lyne Arms. However, the reflux of the heavy alcohols is fed directly via a copper pipe into the still's boiler for repeated distillation.



Here follows St. Kilian’s tasting opinion


"Appearance: Light gold

 

Aroma: The aromatic fullness of ripe apricots and yellow pears blends gently with delicate vanilla notes, a hint of grapefruit and coconut, while subtle oak tones resonate in the background.

 

Taste: The fruity combination of apricots, ripe pears and a hint of grapefruit is harmoniously complemented by sweet vanilla and creamy toffee with a hint of coconut, while at the same time warming oak notes with a pinch of white pepper provide a spicy component.

 

Finish: The balanced interplay of creamy fruit notes, delicate vanilla and subtle, warming oak spices lasts a long time with a hint of bitter grapefruit.

 

Alcohol content: 57.4% vol.; RRP: € 69.90 (0.5 litres), only 320 bottles"

 


 


2 David’s Choice

A second Single Cask Edition David's Choice was selected by " St. Kilians Spiritus Rector , David F. Hynes" himself. The mild, non-smoky spirit matured for five years in a fresh 225/8 liter barrel made of chestnut wood. The barrel was coopered in Bad Dürkheim by the Wilhelm Eder cooperage.


The hard "Käschte wood" - that's what chestnuts are called in the Palatinate dialect - came from the southern Palatinate Forest, the Wasgau region that crosses the border with Alsace in France. Sweet chestnuts are edible, which is why the bushy tree is also called a sweet chestnut . They grow as individual trees scattered throughout the Palatinate Forest and are often several hundred years old. For the people of the Palatinate, the harvest time in autumn is a celebration. They populate the forests in search of the delicious chestnut.



"The chestnut gives a full, round aroma without bringing the sometimes too many tannins of the oak to the tongue. Especially in distillates you can taste the depth, the forest and the fruit of the chestnut paired with honey notes. The chestnut gives the distillate a strong golden yellow color. The chestnut barrel offers strong structured red wines a great maturity and a round sweetness,"


writes barrel specialist Markus Eder. A new 228 l Eder barrel costs around 740 Euros plus shipping costs.


In Scotland there is a very strict regulation,
to use only oak barrels to mature the whiskies,

emphasizes St. Kilian’s mentor Hynes.


However, in Ireland and the other member states of the European Union, any type of wood is permitted for maturing whiskey. The same applies to England and Wales. Until Brexit, they followed the European guidelines.


The chestnut wood has surprising effects. The intense natural coloring - without any caramel coloring! - of the single malt directly indicates the cask's origin.


In the glass a fascinating
deep dark mahogany color play.

Only 300 bottles were made available in the webshop. This precious item quickly found new owners.


It was considered by the audience as the specialty of the web tasting.


David F. Hynes at the Great Norther Distillery, Dundalk. There he is director alongside Dr. John Teeling and also planned the conversion of the brewing vats into pot stills.


"The result is a lush single malt whisky,
which not only has full-bodied fruit sweetness, dry tannins
and warming wood notes,
but also impresses with its magnificent mahogany color."




Here is the St. Kilian tasting opinion


"Appearance: Mahogany

 

Aroma: Aromatic fruit notes of ripe plums, dates and some sultanas unfold together with delicate vanilla notes and a hint of tart-sweet Seville oranges, while notes of finely spicy oak present themselves in the background.

 

Taste: A creamy, syrupy fruit sweetness of plums, dates, juicy oranges and sultanas is enveloped by dry tannins and warming wood notes and perfectly rounded off by dark honey with a hint of dark chocolate.

 

Aftertaste: The creamy fruit jam is slowly replaced by subtly dry wood notes and lingers for a long time with a hint of cough syrup with honey and fine dark chocolate.

 

Alcohol content: 58.4% vol.; RRP: € 69.90 (0.5 litres)"

 


 

3 The Smoky Kilian

The first single cask selection Turf Tail Distillers Cut was distilled by the St Kilian team in a special way, because During the second distillation phase, the distillers collected "...only the last 250 liters of the middle run..." They then switched to the tails at 59 % vol.


It was, so to speak, the last quarter of the core with its intensive phenolic compounds that extend into the wake. The absolutely precise cut during the downforce


"...gave the spirit a more intense smokiness."

The first three quarters of the middle run were therefore much less smoky than the last quarter. The Scottish malt from Glenesk originally had a phenol density of 80 ppm. The peat for peating the Scottish barley came from St. Fergus Moss.


The most special thing about this drama...
We have an incredible amount of peat here,
but little smoke...it is earthy

says Blender Rudolf


The St Kilian Single Malt Whisky, the new make, matured for four years in an American Oak first-fill Jack Daniel Barrel .


The result is a balanced single malt whisky with an aromatic composition of peat, fruit, vanilla
and warming oak spice.

In addition to its peaty finesse, the single cask bottling is characterized by an intense fruit sweetness with malty nuances,
which are rounded off with dark chocolate and coated with subtle ash notes.



Here is St. Kilian’s aroma opinion

  

"Appearance: Light gold

 

Aroma: Aromatic peat smoke opens up space for malty sweetness, creamy vanilla, fruity apricot and juicy pears, rounded off by delicate toffee and a pinch of spicy oak.

 

Taste: A sweet blend of ripe apricots, juicy pears and vanilla cream with a hint of toffee is accompanied by a nuance of malt and warming oak spice, while gently enveloped by peat smoke with a pinch of allspice.

 

Finish: Creamy vanilla and sweet fruit jam combine with finely spicy oak, a hint of allspice and delicate peat smoke, whose aroma lingers for a long time.

 

Alcohol content: 58.7% vol.; RRP: € 69.90 (0.5 litres)"

 


 

4 St. Kilian Single Cask – Ultra Heavily Peated

The second smoky, high-alcohol St. Kilian Single Cask bottling matured for six years in a seasoned 250-liter First Fill Sherry Oloroso Hogshead from the DO Jerez. The Kilian distillers distilled the "Ultra Heavily Peated" from a peated Scottish barley malt from the Glenesk Maltings near Montrose on the North Sea coast. The peat from St Fergus creates a pleasant, very fine, by no means strictly medicinal peat note with a nevertheless very strong phenol density of 135 ppm in the malt.


"...this is the highest value Glenesk can achieve,"

emphasizes Rudolf.


However, the Glenesk malt was not mixed with an unmalted malt to a certain phenol density value, e.g. 80 ppm , as is often the case, but retained its maximum phenol density that can be achieved by stirring.


The Glenesk Maltings offered St. Kilian the heavily peated malt :


"We were the only ones who had moved in until then.
I don't know if others use it."

explained St. Kilian's mastermind Rudolf.


This single malt whisky impresses with its intense fruit sweetness with malty nuances and warming oak spice.
Fine dark chocolate rounds off the taste experience, while aromatic peat smoke with subtle ash notes envelops the whole thing.


The selection resulted in only 365 bottles with a concentration of 58.9% vol.


This is what St. Kilian says about whisky


"Appearance: Gold

 

Aroma: Behind the smoky peat aroma, fruity notes of juicy apricots and ripe yellow pears unfold, underlined by a hint of sultanas and rounded off with a pinch of bitumen.

 

Taste: Intense aromas of a fruity sweetness of ripe pears, juicy peaches, dates and sultanas blend with malty nuances and gentle peat smoke, delicately spiced with warming oak notes and completed by fine dark chocolate.

 

Aftertaste: The complex combination of creamy fruit jam and warming peat smoke with subtle ash notes lingers with dark chocolate and a pinch of dry oak spice.

 

Alcohol content: 58.9% vol.; RRP: € 79.90 (0.5 litres)"



The St Fergus Peat at Glenesk Maltings 2022


 


5 Star of the Evening

The big surprise of the Genesis tasting was the first eight-year-old St. Kilian single malt whisky in the legendary X series . The designation X 1 goes back to the early months of distillation at St. Kilian before the legal conditions for cask labeling were specified in detail by customs for the new distillery.


Every barrel filled with spirit at St. Kilian must, according to customs regulations, be


"explicitly own unique"

Barrel numbers that cannot be used again. The barrels that the Kilian team filled with spirits from the test runs were given the code X 1 , X 2 , etc. to distinguish them from the preliminary phase for customs purposes.


"...this is how the X-series was born."

At St. Kilian, the barrels in the maturation warehouses are not currently barcoded, as is common practice at many Scottish distilleries.


The second distillation process of the Ketterer Wash followed the very first attempt with a Mackmyra alcohol-water mixture in November 2015 when the young Kilian team tested the spirit still for leaks, pressure load and heating process. The prescribed series of tests began under the eyes of customs officials.


The first rough fire test phase with the Ketterer Wash filling frightened those present.


The boiling beer foamed up despite the addition of anti-foam in the still, because it already came out of the brewery with high CO2 levels:


"our spirit has gone away...so it went up,
that is a bit dangerous,
the pressure increased considerably.
We were very nervous,"

Mario Rudolf reports openly about the burning process.


Andreas Thümmler was very nervous and even said he feared that the still would burst.


"I have never seen such a foaming wash with the enormous bubbles in the rough bubble,

said experienced distiller Hynes.


Career changer Mario Rudolf, today St Kilian's CTO and successful Master Blender, distilled a complex single malt for the first time in November 2015 in the presence of David Hynes and Andreas Thümmler in the second test distillation, this time in a rough and fine distillation bubble.


The eight-year-old single malt whisky from the Ketterer Wash now appears harmonious with balanced


complex aromas of honey,
delicate vanilla and butterscotch
as well as sweet fruit and fine spice notes
testifies to a full-bodied result.


What's special: At that time, Kilian was not yet technically able to produce its own wort. One solution was to purchase the fermented mash from a brewery, as many German distilleries still do today. The first beer wash, i.e. the beer without hops, for the oldest St. Kilian release to date came from the Pforzheim private brewery Wilhelm Ketterer in 2016. After delivery, it was stored in the wooden Kilian fermentation vats and then distilled in a double test distillation process in their Scottish Swan Neck 6 000 l Pot Stills.


Before joining St. Kilian, Rudolf was not responsible for beer production as technical director. Michael Ketterer allowed the qualified brewer Rudolf to individually produce a special whiskey mash from Pilsner malt for his new employer Andreas Thümmler.



After the first complete double distillation at Kilian in November 2015, the spirit made from non-smoky malt from Ketterer Wash was initially stored in IBC tanks. Due to a delay by customs - clarification of the documentation processes - the spirit was only stored in March 2016 in two American 190 l first-fill bourbon barrels from the Old Forester Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky and in small 55 l American Oak first-fill bourbon quarter casks from the small Texas Garrison Brothers Distillery.


"Over time, the thought came...we needed a different direction,"

Rudolf noted in 2019 when checking the first maturation progress in the Bourbon Casks. The aroma structure achieved up to that point did not completely convince him. In short:


"We decided on a double maturation."

They transferred the first part into other containers in 2019. The second part in 2021.


For further "extra long maturation", Rudolf cleverly chose two premium 225 l first-fill Sauternes barriques. These were made by renowned cooperages from first-class old French oak:


  • Since 2019, part 1 has been characterized by a barrique from the world-famous top winery Château d'Yquem ,

  • Part 2 aromatized in barrique since 2021, it came from the neighbor Château Sigalas Rabaud, just 500 m away,

  • With only 14 hectares of vineyards, it is the smallest Premier Cru winery in the S auternes region.


In both barrels, the winegrowers from the growing region in the Garonne Valley east of Bordeaux built their noble sweet white wines of the Premier Cru class. A 0.375 l bottle of Château d`Yquem Sauternes AOC currently costs from 279 euros. At auctions bottles may reach around 4 000 euros each.


The oldest release of St. Kilian to date is actually a very rare double maturation,

because Mario Rudolf normally prefers the full maturation method for his St. Kilian single malts.


"...the wine flavour is so good,"

says David Hynes, while Master Blender Rudolf


consider


"...this is not a typical St. Kilian."

Rudolf advises, however,


"...to add a few drops of water,
they make the whisky sweeter."


Garrisson Brother Quarter Casks, Sauternes Barriques, First-Fill Bourbon Barrels at St Kilian Distillery


The following is St. Kilian’s tasting opinion for the St. Kilian Ketterer Single Malt

 

"Appearance: Amber

 

Aroma: A seductive bouquet of sun-ripened grapes, white peaches, juicy pears and a hint of pineapple unfolds harmoniously with sweet butterscotch and delicate vanilla, accompanied by a nuance of coconut and subtle oak notes.

 

Taste: A sweet and full-bodied start with notes of bright grapes, peach and pineapple, accompanied by creamy vanilla and creamy toffee, is carried by a subtle warming oak spice with a hint of rancio.

 

Finish: The creamy fruit sweetness is gradually replaced by dark toffee notes, nuances of grapes, a hint of hazelnut and increasingly dry oak tones.

 

Alcohol content: 58.3% vol. RRP: € 99.90 (0.5 litres)"

 


 

Final

At the end of the Genesis tasting, the trio Thümmler, Hynes and Rudolf presented the St. Kilian Whisky Liqueur.


This was combined exclusively with St Kilian Single Malt Whisky. It was a


"... perfect harmony of creamy vanilla, mild coconut and aromatic cinnamon..."

Master Blender Mario Rudolf was enthusiastic. The 30% vol. strong liqueur was made on the basis of St. Kilian double distilled single malt whisky.



This is what St Kilian says about the whisky liqueur:


"LOOK Bright Amber

SMELL Sweet notes of fine vanilla, mild coconut and aromatic cinnamon

TASTE Fine vanilla, sweet cinnamon rolls with coconut and orange peel

AFTERtaste Long-lasting coconut aromas and pleasant vanilla sugar


NOTE Store in a cool, dark place. Consume within one year of opening."



Here is the St Kilian Web Show in youtube. Double Click.






 

About the author

Ernie - Ernst J. Scheiner is the editor of the portal The Gateway to Distilleries www.whisky-distilleries.net He photographically documents over 150 distilleries from the inside and describes the production of whiskies in detail. Since his studies at the University of Edinburgh, he has been involved with the subject of whisky and has published in specialist magazines

such as The Ireland Journal, the Kleinbrennerei, Whisky Passion and The Highland Herold . Features and stories appeared in the blogs whiskyexperts, whiskyfanblog and whiskyintelligence . As head of the VHS Ingelheim, and now as whisky ambassador, he leads distillation colleges, study trips and whisky culture tours to the sources of whisky.

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