I’m not sure I’ve covered a Swiss whisky yet, but it just goes to show the variety of countries that are producing it these days. Langatun Distillery was ‘reopened’ in 2007 by Hans Baumberger. His granfather, Jakob Baumberger, founded the company in the 1860s, but it was originally a brewing company – that’s a more logical operation for this part of the world – and tinkered with some other spirits distillation. That brewing heritage also goes to explain the fact that in the two whiskies I’m looking at today (well one whisky, in two variants) uses an English stout yeast for fermentation, as opposed to one of the many other varieties of yeast traditionally used in whisky production.
Not a whole lot of information seems to exist on this distillery, so I’ll get right on with the whiskies. I have two samples – at different strengths – of Old Deer whisky. This has been distilled from un-peated barley, fermented (as mentioned) with an English stout yeast, triple distilled before being matured for six years in Sherry and Chardonnay casks – presumably European oak. Lagantun Old Deer 40% costs £50 for a 50cl bottle, and Lagantun Old Deer Cask Proof costs £65.
Langatun Old Deer 40% ABV
Colour: deep copper.
On the nose: very potent for the ABV, and exceptional. Some lovely sherry cask notes of raisins and sultanas, mingled with tart redcurrants and blackcurrants. Once the fruit settles there’s an immensely likeable fresh, yeasty, almost Champagne-like or freshly baked bread quality.
In the mouth: very interesting. A mixture of those dried fruits and redcurrants on the nose, but tropical flavours bubbling away: mango, pineapple, and maybe settling into orchard fruits. A medium texture. Feels very classic. A mild wood note, with a little bit of creme caramel. It’s a very approachable whisky.
Langatun Old Deer Cask Proof 62.1% ABV
On the nose: it’s a notable difference from the lighter version. Less room for the fresher qualities. Instead it’s treacle or molasses, a really thick nose that dominates. Hedgerow jam: blackberries, sloes, raspberries. Maybe stewed apples. A return to golden syrup.
In the mouth: tart and delicious. A strong lead of redcurrants, damsons, sloes again, but with a lot of wood heat and vibrancy. Black cherries. A little bit of earthiness. Dark chocolate. The finish here is much longer – almost indefinitely – and it’s quite cloying, tannic and peppery, but with the fruits it actually works – feels rather like the aftertaste of a bold-as-brass Merlot perhaps.
Unlike, say, the recent Ardbeg Dark Cove comparison, I much prefer the qualities of the whisky at the higher strength, though I suspect the ideal lies somewhere in between. But these are both really very good whiskies and though I’ve not seen anything of the production methods, they feel very much in the Scotch or perhaps more Irish style (whatever that really is). I’m hugely impressed. Swiss whiskies! Who’d have thought it? The prices are pretty good too.