It was not long ago since the award for “Best Continental European Whisky” at the “International Wine and Spirits Competition” once again caused quite a stir, because the winner was actually a German Korn (and not for the first time, already in 2010 – according to my knowledge – a Korn schnapps won this prize for the first time). Strictly speaking, it was the Cigar Special Cuvee Korn from the house of Sasse. But how can it be that a Korn from the Münsterland region wins a prize for best whisky? Well, basically the question is very easy to answer: it simply is a whisky. (provided test product)*
Korn can be made from various grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye and even buckwheat are allowed) and must have at least 32 % abv (or at least 37.5% abv., then it may call himself Kornbrand; this includes the established Doppelkorn variety with an ABV of 38%.). Maturation is also permitted, of course. And if – roughly speaking – there is an alcohol content of at least 40% abv. and the Korn has been matured for more than three years, well, then you have a whisky. And of course the producer Sasse knows this very well.
But today it’s not about the Cigar Special Cuvee mentioned above, but about what I think is an even more interesting bottle: the Lagerkorn 12 with the addition “Die wiedergeborene Edition” (it means as much as “the reborn edition”). The term “Lagerkorn” is now a registered trademark of the Sasse company, a fact that of course also conveys the pride Sasse feels for the products from that series. The Lagerorn 12 is based on an ancient Egyptian grain called Emmer. Of course, this is no coincidence, but the result of a targeted search process for a very special base grain – the aim here was simply to find a taste as primordial as possible. And I guess you can indeed call a grain that was cultivated more than 10,000 years ago “primordial” with good reason. If you should ask yourself how this goes together with the legally permitted grains listed above, you should know at this point that Emmer is a cereal of the genus Wheat (as I had to find out myself at first – however the shop page of the distillery Sasse lists Imperial Barley as the base here. I suspect that this is a mistake.). The grain mash is then distilled on the in-house CC6 Pot Still. There is also a copper Pot Still from the 19th century, which was produced by the coppersmith Becker and is therefore called “Genialer Becker” by the house Sasse – they distill Korn on it, too, but not the Lagerkorn 12. According to the manufacturer, the distillates of the CC6 Still guarantee special power in taste. Especially noteworthy here is the fact that emmer, as a grain, has become a kind of trend grain for distillers as well. More than 12 years ago, when the Lagerkorn 12 was distilled (it matured for at least 12 years in American oak barriques), this was hardly foreseeable.
Tasting Notes „Lagerkorn 12 – die wiedergeborene Edition“:
Aroma: “A Korn? Never ever! That’s a whisky!” something like that will probably be most people’s first reaction while tasting the Lagerkorn 12. I’m pretty sure of that. Well, as described above, this is basically an irrational statement, because this Korn is a whisky, but nevertheless: What exudes its scent here in the glass has nothing to do with what is commonly expected from a Korn schnapps. I would blindly locate this one in the Speyside or in the Highlands. A rich honey paired with almonds, lightly roasted hazelnuts, a bouquet of meadow herbs and a nice vanilla as well as some oak wood. Over time I also find increasingly light fruits such as mirabelle plums, cooked quinces and dried apricots. There’s also a certain, hard to name note that comes up again and again, it reminds a little of sweetish glue, but doesn’t have its penetrance. This may not sound very appealing, but on the contrary it is very pleasant and well integrated into the overall aroma – and is not untypical for bourbon cask matured spirits. This is a very, very nice aroma! I could spend hours just smelling.
Taste: very mild and pleasant, the Lagerkorn 12 caresses the palate. Although the alcohol can be felt on the tongue, it brings many beautiful aromas right from the start. Here I find roasted nuts, honey and vanilla. In addition, the meadow herbs are again part of the picture. In general, it can be said that the Lagerkorn 12’s aroma and taste are quite close to each other and you won’t experience a big surprise here, as it is sometimes the case with spirits (positive or negative). The fruit tones are a little more reserved on the palate, but leave more room to unfold for oak wood and spices – the bourbon barrel is very clearly recognizable here, the longer I circulate the Lagerkorn in my mouth, the more I have to think of American whiskey.
Finish: long, with barrel notes, dried fruit and honey.
The Lagerkorn 12 is a fantastic spirit for neat enjoyment. With this statement, I could basically end this article. But of course I don’t do that, because – as I pointed out very often in the past – even very high quality spirits can make an excellent impression in a drink! If they are not completely superimposed and thus made arbitrary (which is why in these cases I almost always refrain from mixing drinks with fruit juices). In today’s drink called “Am I Emmer?” I combined Pierre Ferrand Ambré Cognac (a relatively fruity cognac with beautiful apricot notes) with the Sasse Lagerkorn 12. The two basic spirits are then married with the fruity bitter notes of the Revolte Dry Curacao and abundant herbs of the two French liqueurs D.O.M. Benedictine and Chartreuse Jaune. Finally, two dashes of The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters are added – as well as a small pinch of salt (and by that I really mean a small pinch!: Just let some salt trickle into the drink between your fingertips, that’s enough! The drink should not taste salty!).
Recipe “Am I Emmer?”:
3,5 cl Sasse Lagerkorn 12
2 cl Pierre Ferrand Cognac Ambré
1 cl D.O.M. Benedictine
0.5 cl Chartreuse Jaune
0.75 cl Revolte Dry Curacao
2 Dashes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters
1 small pinch of salt
Preparation: The drink is made in the glass itself. Simply pour all ingredients into the glass on solid ice cubes and stir. Finally, spray with the oil of the lemon zest.
Garnish: lemon zest
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online
*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.