St. Kilian Distillers GmbH

31/10/2023 A Journey Through Time: From Aqua Vitae to German Whisky Excellence

In the heart of Franconia, Germany, a remarkable transformation is taking place. St. Kilian Distillers GmbH, Germany's largest whisky distillery, is breathing new life into an ancient tradition, with a rich history that traces its roots back to the 7th century. Join us on a journey through time as we explore the fascinating story of St. Kilian Distillers, where "Aqua Vitae" meets the art of German whisky production.

The Water of Life and Its Travels

In the 6th century, Irish missionaries embarked on journeys that took them as far as the Middle East. There, they discovered the art of distillation from the Arabs, utilizing small copper pot stills. This distillation process produced an alcohol enriched with spices, herbs, and flowers, primarily intended as a perfume. However, the Irish monks found a different use for it and dubbed it "Aqua Vitae" in Latin, considering it a potent medicine for both body and mind. This marked the inception of what we now know as "New Make" spirit, a precursor to today's whiskey distilleries.

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Three Monks and the "Aqua Vitae" Mission

In the 7th century, three courageous monks named Kilian, Kolonat, and Totnan, were sent on a daring mission by the Pope in Rome to Christianize the pagans of Franconia. Their predecessors had failed, often meeting a tragic end at the stake. However, these intrepid missionaries carried with them a precious cargo - the "Aqua Vitae" and a small copper still for its production. They presented their barley brandy to King Gosbert and Queen Gailana in Würzburg, extolling its remarkable healing properties for both body and soul. The royal court and their subjects were immediately captivated, and thus, the monks were granted the opportunity to establish Aqua Vitae production in Würzburg. They used this elixir to convert the pagan population to Christianity. The versatility of Aqua Vitae appealed to both the common people and the nobility, making it a cherished remedy for various ailments.

The Legend of St. Kilian Whisky

As the monks ventured throughout Franconia on their mission, they eventually arrived in Rüdenau, the very place where their distillery stands today. There, they blended their Aqua Vitae with water from the Ottilienbrunnen, a sacred spring dating back to Roman times when water gods were worshiped at the Limes. What transpired in that mystical place has become the stuff of legends: St. Kilian Whisky. The tale of how these three monks met their martyrdom and the enduring reverence they receive as apostles in Franconia is chronicled in a

 

 

booklet available at their shop in Rüdenau.

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Three Men, One Mission

Over a thousand years later, history repeated itself as three men came together on a mission, driven by a passion for "aqua vitae." Andreas Thümmler, a successful technology investment banker and whisky collector, joined forces with David F. Hynes, the Irish whisky legend from Dublin, and brewmaster/master distiller Mario Rudolf from Amorbach. Their vision was clear: to establish the largest whisky distillery in Germany, following the original distillation processes of Scotland and Ireland.

The Spirit of St. Kilian

After four years of dedication and construction, the first "Spirit of St. Kilian" flowed from the distillery's two 6,000-liter Forsyth copper stills in the serene whisky village of Rüdenau in 2016. In May 2019, the team unveiled their first three-year-old single malt whisky, aptly named "First Kilian." St. Kilian swiftly set new quality standards for "Whisky made in Germany" with their Small Batch Signature Editions. Their name pays homage to the Irish monk St. Kilian and his brothers, who more than a millennium ago captivated the Germanic people with the miraculous qualities of Aqua Vitae. This, precisely, remains their unwavering mission.

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St. Kilian Distillers GmbH, situated in a village of only 760 inhabitants, has resurrected an age-old tradition, combining history, spirituality, and craftsmanship. From Aqua Vitae to fine whisky, their journey is a testament to the enduring allure of the "water of life" and the dedication of those who continue to craft it. The legacy of the three Irish monks lives on, their mission sustained by St. Kilian's commitment to producing exceptional German whisky.

St. Kilian Distillers GmbH’s Signature Edition THIRTEEN achieved the best score at the 2023 USA Spirits Ratings making it Best in Show by Country Category and Gold with a score of 94 points.

A peaty single malt whiskey with a powerful aroma of seaweed. The nose reveals lovely peat and smoky notes, while the palate features umami flavors of teriyaki, salted dark chocolate, grapefruit, and chestnut honey.

 

 

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