It is 12.30 pm on a Monday and I have the smell of a 16 year old whisky in my nose. In front of me a tall shelf full of spirits, probably worth more than someone’s six month rent. However, this afternoon is not about day-drinking: in a cozy co-working space in the heart of Hamburg are two young men who could talk to me about hundreds of different whiskies. Andreas and Waldemar, the founders of the Tastillery spirit shop, recently went on a whisky adventure to Scotland to find the best available whisky out there — and filmed it all for YouTube.
You opened an online shop for luxury spirits in a country where beer is the main alcohol people drink. Why?
Waldemar: We are cousins and wanted to start a business together for a long time. Our dads have a wine business in Kazakhstan, so enjoying spirits was always part of our family traditions growing up. When we come together for festivities, we always enjoy nice spirits in some way. We would discuss the meaning behind what we drink and try different tastes. So when we said we want to start a business together, we knew that selling spirits would be a lot of fun.
What made you go on this “whisky adventure”?
Waldemar: Our whisky adventure to Scotland was the first step to selling special spirits online. We thought: how can we discover the best whisky in the most exciting way possible? Okay — let’s go to Scotland!
Andreas: Selling spirits is a lot about traveling. Many of our customers talk about how they love going abroad and discover whiskies and distilleries at their destination. That is why we made a movie series on YouTube about our journey. The long-term plan is to travel the world, find the best spirits and then sell them online.
Which places are you going to explore next?
Waldemar: We have three top destinations in mind …
Andreas: The first would be to explore Mexico and its tequila. Or the Midwest of the United States and do a cowboy-style spirit adventure. And what we are very curious about as well, is exploring whiskies in Japan.
Is there no good whisky in Hamburg or other parts of Germany?
Andreas: There is no whisky distillery in Hamburg. whisky has only become cool in the past few years. If you go to the south of Germany, you will find some that opened around 8 years ago. But the problem is that they are too new, and with whisky it takes years to create a real quality product. The liquid needs to be in the barrel for at least three years and then it gets better with six, eight and even twelve years. So in some years there might be good German whisky.
Would you say Hamburg is cool enough for whisky?
Waldemar: Well, there is still a stigma to it. Many people think that whisky is difficult and that you need to read a book about it before you can enjoy it. Most younger people drink whisky as a longdrink, mixed for example with coke. But when it comes to actually enjoying whisky on its own, they think they need to be in a leather seat with a cigar to be able to do that. We understood that drinking whisky is a like culture and art, and it can be very fun. But you have to get closer to it.
… How do you get closer to whisky?
Waldemar: You need a guide that helps you to enjoy it. I think people here shouldn’t think too much about the theory but just have fun with it. Just like with wine or beer, there is no complexity to it. In Scotland alone there are thousands of different tastes. It should not be mainly alcohol that you taste, but also notes of maybe wood or vanilla.
So you guys want to improve the drinking culture in Hamburg with the best Scotch whisky?
Andreas: We want to inspire people to drink better. That’s why we created our The Whisky Adventure as a product: people can try different flavors from a box and discover a big variety. For us, Hamburg is a very lively and open-minded city, so our concept really fits here.
Do you have good places in mind that you would recommend for enjoying whisky here in Hamburg?
Waldemar: Honestly, to drink good whisky with friends, we stay at home and let them try some from our own collection. If we do go out, we would go for places with good cocktails. There are plenty of them in Hamburg: The bar of the Fontenay Hotel is nice for long drinks. For enjoying whisky by itself I would recommend The George and The Rabbit Hole.
Andreas: The Boilerman Bar in Eppendorf is a good tip as well. It is known for its American whiskies and the bartender is very knowledgeable.