Horst Lüning – From rocket sience to whisky tasting

Om du kan din whisky och din YouTube, har du med all säkerhet hört talas om Horst Lüning! Horst är en av de största videobloggarna av whisky på internet idag – whisky.com. Tack vare hans utmärkta smaknoteringar och den stora skaran följare han har, blev han tidigare i år utnämnd till Keeper of the Quaich.

Vi kontaktade Horst för att höra hur han själv ser på sitt videobloggande och hur han kunnat utveckla sitt utmärkta doft- och smaksinne.

Glädjande kan vi därför ge er denna intervju med en av dagens största och seriösaste videobloggare om whisky: Horst Lüning!

Horst Lüning

Hi Horst! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Today I am most often known internationally for my whisky tasting videos. What people do not know: I am a mechanical engineer with a specialisation in rocket science. My wife started a German mail order shop for whisky in 1993. Unfortunately we only ship inside Germany. After several years of extreme growth I joined her in selling and promoting whisky. Since October 2010 I taste whisky in front of my camera. My English and German videos add up to 2,000 and I already collected 20 million views. Early this year I was rewarded for this effort as a Keeper of the Quaich at Blair Castle in the Highlands.

How did your interest in whisky start?
It started already in the Mid-70s. Germany was occupied by British and US forces. Whisky was not familiar in German stores but the US PX Shops for the troops poured a steady flow of Scotch whisky and Bourbon into Germany. We had close contact with the US troops and by this we also got access to this wonderful new world of taste.

You have had great success with your tasting videos on YouTube. What kind of response do you get from your viewers?
Most often I receive wishes about whiskies to taste next. Viewers found out that my taste correspond to theirs and they would be happy if I would add their next intended buy on my list.

What are the most common questions you get about whisky?
How have you learned to taste whisky in that detail? (Shall I answer this question here? 😉  of course) One part is the genetic ability to taste in detail but the other part is hard labour. Sniff on blooms, on spices, in your shoes…. Over the time you will notice that your sense of smell will get better and better.

What is your opinion on the adding of e150a in whisky and chill-filtration?
My personal view is this: Artificial colour is ok for cheap blends. Otherwise they would look like light white wine. But you expect a whisky to be brown coloured. So you have to add artificial colour to satisfy the expectations. But selling expensive single malt whisky and add colour is a definite no-go. Chillfiltration is a complete different matter. People invented chillfiltration not only to avoid the haze which develops if you pour whisky on ice. It also has to do with smoothness and taste. We did a big blind tasting with 100 experts and over 1,000 samples on whisky.com with an astonishing result. There is little difference in quality between the taste of chillfiltered and unchillfiltered whisky. And if there is a difference the chillfiltered whisky is regarded as a little better. https://www.whisky.com/information/knowledge/science/study-on-the-chill-filtration-of-scotch-single-malt-whiskies.html

What is your opinion on the trend of NAS-whisky?
This trend results from the new managers inside the industry. If you stay no longer in your job as the whisky matures, then you have to earn your bonuses with short matured whisky. Over the last decade the managers sold the long matured content of the warehouses and the controllers forbid to fill them up again. They tried to reduce the capital commitment. Today we have to live with this mess. But – on the other hand: There are several extremely good NAS whiskies on the market. You can increase the quality of NAS whisky a lot by using very good and active casks.

What is your proudest whisky-related memory?
Selling a bottle of Bowmore 1955 in the late 90s for over 5,000 Euros. And opening a Black Bowmore in front of my camera.

Today Horst is a Keeper of the Quaich

Have you tried any Swedish whisky? If so, what did you think of it?
I travelled with my full electric Tesla car from the North Cape to North Africa. And during this trip we visited the Gravity Distillery of Mackmyra in Gävle. This is the most modern, green and tidiest distillery I have ever seen. I regularly taste Mackmyra whiskies. Here is my playlist in English: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmh4WEPFC_DBYXTReKnijgzNK_RYs2zze

If you should hold a masterclass for us here at Whiskytower. What drams would you chose and why?
There are four columns on which the Scottish whisky industry resides. Glenfiddich 12yrs, Macallan 12yrs (Sherry Cask) and Lagavulin 16yrs have spread the message all over the world. Glenfiddich was the bestselling Single Malt for decades. Macallan is called the Rolls Royce among the malt whisky lovers and finally Lagavulin 16yrs spread the knowledge of smoky Islay whisky around the world. The fourth column is very individual to everybody. It is the special whisky with which the individual got in contact with the water of life. My bottle was a 15 yo Strathisla from Gordon & MacPhail. This is no longer available so I would choose the original bottling with 12yrs of age.

You have built a new studio and upgraded the equipment for the video blog. Tell us about that?
My son Ben entered the enterprise and he intends to take videos with both of us. So he is doing videos in his studio and I in mine. And I will join him for the dual takes.

If you could have 3 people of your own choice for a whisky tasting, who would you invite and why? (Alive or dead).
My first choice would be Alfred Barnard (1837–1918) because he drank himself thru all of the distilleries of the UK in the late 1880s. The second would be Sean Connery, who was born in Edinburgh and avowed himself to being a Scot. He preferred Scotch when the camera was off and he was not playing James Bond. The third one would be HRH Prince Charles, because he is never tired promoting Scotch Whisky. But only in the Royal Lochnagar distillery close to Balmoral castle.

Do you have any whisky advice to our readers?
Life is too short for bad alcohol. (Based loosely on Goethe)

Finally. Anything you would like to add?
My judgement as a taster is widely regarded. But I am only a single person. But there is a wisdom of the crowds. We collect individual tasting notes in our steadily growing whisky database on whisky.com. Feel free to add your meanings and thoughts about particular bottles there. https://www.whisky.com/whisky-database/database.html

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