This summer I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Copenhagen Distillery. This is a tiny distillery setup in a beautiful and rustic house on the outskirts of Copenhagen. The facilities are actually from 1749, called Bryggergården (“the brewery house”), and initially housed a pottery and tile works. Later it became the location for one of the first breweries in Copenhagen. The brewery was closed down a long time ago, but with Copenhagen Distillery there is new life in the house.
Henrik Brinks is the owner and master distiller. This is very much a one man show, and this one man has a clear philosophy and vision for his distillery:
Driven by a desire to discover, our mission is to create spirits imbued with new flavors and experiences. We expect every sip to pleasantly surprise and catch breath of the taster, whether from unique flavor dynamics or lingering notes on the palate. If our spirits do not both surprise and delight, they don’t go in the bottle.
It was very interesting to discuss this philosophy and what this meant in practice for Henrik, because it definitely defines everything he does. For example, he has designed his own still, and worked with a local metal shop to have it built to his exact specifications. The still has flexibility in that he can switch out bits and pieces if he wants to play around and experiment. The still is tiny though and one production batch gives 25 liters of alcohol.
Another consequence of his philosophy is that he has opted to only focus on distilling and maturation. This means he is sourcing the wash from different partners – wash made to his specifications.
The whisky is casked at around 72 % ABV, and matured in 30 liter casks. The casks are all virgin oak, mainly from Hungary but also from Macedonia. He revealed that he will probably move to 50 liter casks in the future.
The first whisky is planned for release some time around March – May 2016, and will be the start of a trilogy called First (“Første”), Next (“Neste”) and Last (“Siste”).
I got to try a couple of his ‘work in progress’ whiskies, and I must say I was very impressed. Henrik certainly is true to his philosophy. What I tasted was powerful and big on nose and palate. All his whisky is unpeated spirit, but he is experimenting with the casks to get a sort of peated character to some of the spirit. He is also doing a lot of experimenting of other kinds, but those were a bit hush-hush, so you will just have to wait and see what is revealed in the future.
All in all very interesting, certainly a bit unconventional, but thoroughly fascinating.
As a bonus I got to try the Copenhagen Distillery gin. What a delight! It is 100 % honey-based (distilled mead), and with just one single botanical – juniper. Very rich, sweet and enjoyable.
I shall be very interested in following Copenhagen Distillery in the coming years. Good luck, Henrik!