Last week we introduced you to new Bar Manager, Callum Hunter, originally hailing from Scotland, who took to the floor to tell us all about his plans for the CHBC bar now he’s the chief – including more events and a brand spanking new circus-themed craft cocktail list. We also spilled the beans on our guest ale collaboration with renegade brewers, Pirate Brew Berlin and on Saturday we proudly devoured our efforts and celebrated our Scottish Golden Ale!
This week, it is our distinct pleasure to introduce Al Quin, who moved to Berlin from Scotland almost three years ago and joins us at the Circus Hostel Brewing Co as our resident whisky specialist. We sat down with the boys over a dram to talk about their new hand-selected whisky list on offer at the bar and what this means for guests and locals looking to expand their drinking horizons.
Growing up in the highlands of Scotland myself, I certainly know the importance of whisky (to life in general), but for those that are yet to be enlightened to the absolute joys of a quality dram, tell us, why add a whisky list to the menu?
Callum: I would answer why not? I think a fine Scotch Whisky should be a staple of any fine bar, and a fine bar we aim to be!
Al: We hope to educate the whisky fans in something new, perhaps they will try a new whisky or learn something new about a whisky they already know and love.
And when did your love affair with whisky first start?
Callum: I would say I was quite a late bloomer. I remember my Papa was a whisky drinker when I was younger, and the smell of it put me off…It was only in the past few years as I worked within the bar industry in Glasgow I began to experiment a bit more and really grasp a taste for it.
Al: I always liked whisky growing up, but I have to say my real affair began when i started working in a famous whisky bar in Glasgow called Uisge Breathe which is Gaelic for whisky, literally translating as the water of life. We would go on distillery tours and do regular tastings with experts who would help us appreciate the real subtle nuances in whisky.
Why choose these particular whiskies?
Callum: I see too many bars in Berlin providing very basic Scotch Whisky, so I have brought in what I believe to be a great and concise selection! I have brought In one from my hometown, and a couple of rare bottles, trying to make our selection as unique and relative to our bar as possible!
Al: It’s a well-rounded selection, covering not just the breadth of the whisky regions but also the depth of the palate, going from entirely unpeated to full, smokey peated whiskies.
Which is your favourite whisky featured on the list?
Callum: Got to say the Glengoyne 12-year-old, don’t I? Got to be representing a product of my hometown! The Glengoyne Distillery sits at the foot of Dumgoyne in the Campsie Fells which is about 1km from the village of Killearn where I grew up.
Al: Classic of Islay. With independent bottlings from Islay, mystery often shrouds the exact origin of the malt. This tastes like a young Coal Isla to me. A soft, round-bodied smokey whisky that has all the Islay peat but some of the subtleties of a younger whisky.
Finally Al, the million dollar question, last week I asked Callum if he could sit and enjoy a dram with anybody, dead or alive – who would it be and why…now it’s your turn!
Robert Burns. A notorious Scottish Boozer and wordsmith. I’m sure he’d have some fascinating things to say after a few drams.