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Langatun - Swiss Whisky

Updated: Jun 3

One of the Swiss whisky distilleries is Langatun in Berne
Langatun Distillery in the canton of Berne

Switzerland – land of cheese, chocolate and now whisky

Switzerland has a long history of producing exceptional wine, beer and fruit spirits, but as a country is relatively unknown as a whisky distiller. Despite having the natural resources and the skills to distil whisky, due to rules originally introduced as wartime rationing measures, whisky distilling was prohibited for much of the 20th century. Those rules were repealed in the late 1990s, and Switzerland is now emerging as a whisky distilling nation, and at the forefront of the Swiss whisky distilling scene is Langatun.

Based in Speyside, the home of malt whisky, our company Highfern Ltd is the UK importer for Langatun. We are an independent bottler of Scotch Whisky, alongside which we import a complimentary portfolio of spirits. I had noticed that Langatun was winning awards and getting good reviews, but was not available in the UK, so I contacted them. You can imagine their delight when they got a call from Scotland from someone wanting to import their whisky.The Langatun story starts back in the 1850s. Jakob Baumberger, a successful brewer, founded a distillery in the Swiss town of Langenthal. Whilst the family's business in brewing prospered, they were eventually forced to close the distillery due to the aforementioned rationing measures. When the ban was repealed in 1999, Hans Baumberger, Jakob's great-grandson, decided to pursue his ancestor's distilling dream. Starting on a small scale, after retiring from a career in brewing and the glass industry, Hans distilled his first spirit in 2005. In 2014 Langatun moved to a larger site, a 400 year old former Kornhaus, or grain store.

With a clean sheet, not bound by the traditions of Scotch Whisky, Hans carefully considered each part of the whisky making process, and has built a small but high tech distillery. They use an English stout yeast, triple distil, and from those experimental distillations twenty years ago Hans decided to focus on wine cask maturation. This is unusual as the vast majority of Scotch is matured in former bourbon casks. Wine cask maturation is more expensive, but Hans could source high quality wine casks from vineyards within a couple of hours of his distillery, and they would mature his spirit more quickly. The results of which are a treat for lovers of wine cask matured single malt.

Langatun Old Deer Whisky

Today the signature expression of Langatun is the Old Deer, created from unsmoked barley, triple distilled and matured in former chardonnay and sherry casks. The Old Deer is a rich flavoursome whisky mature for its age. We also offer a selection of single cask bottlings, the most recent releases being the Langatun Monbazillac Cask Finish, which has notes of dried figs and molasses, and the Langatun Rioja Cask Matured, with notes of dried fruit, nuts and spice. Being single cask bottlings they are limited in availability.

We still have some way to go before it becomes common practice to order simply a ‘Swiss’ at the bar, but Hans Baumberger and the Langatun team have successfully expanded the Swiss pantry of quality food and drink to include whisky. The future is bright for Swiss whisky and Langatun.

For more please see Langatun or Highfern: ***Always think: drink responsibly***


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