German whisky is on the upswing. In the last years, the number of German distilleries has outnumbered those in Scotland. “It’s crazy how many German whiskey distilleries there are these days,” German Whisky Distillers’ Association president Michaela Habbel says. Although nobody knows the exact number, “in Germany about 200 distilleries produce whisky, in Scotland only about 130," according to Habbel.
But she has also to admit, “of course, the fact still is that German whisky only accounts for 0.4 per cent of the world market.” In 2017, the entire German whisky production was worth EUR11.6 million euros (USD13.1 million) which is negligible when compared with Scotch whisky exports alone that year, worth some GBP4.4 billion pounds (USD5.8 billion).
So far German Whisky is sold mostly domestically but it is gaining more and more international recognition. In 2017, a single malt from Habbel's Hillock Park Distillery in Sprockhövel, Germany, won double gold and was named the best whisky in the world by the World Spirits Award.
Last week about 30 whisky distillers from all over Germany met for the yearly reunion of the Association of German Whisky Distillers in Alzenau, Germany and discussed how to better promote their products. Scotch whisky and its strict rules of origin still remains the major role model for the whole industry.
"For the members of our association it is particularly important that the product is really distilled in Germany," says Habbel, whose organization was founded in 2012. The raw material may also come from other countries within the European Union (EU) or be sourced worldwide, but distillation and aging in wooden barrels for at least three years must be done in any case in a distillery in Germany.
Noting that the EU is the single most valuable market for Scotch, the association also discussed the effects of UK’s planned exit from the EU, referred to as Brexit (inside.beer, 18.3.2019). “Brexit represents a seismic shift for our industry and one which our members are working hard to plan and adjust for.”
“Maybe the consumer who has always drunk Scotch will look over to the distillery next door and turn to the German product,” Habbel says and hopes for an ongoing boom of German whisky.