Photograph: Magnus

Interview with Steffen Bräuner

This is the sixth interview in a serie of interviews with people who love whisky. Now it’s time for Steffen aka Macdeffe. Steffen is based in Denmark and has a great whisky blog which is in english. Steffen also tweets actively and this is where I first found Macdeffe. Please put your hands together for Steffen!

1. Tell me a little about yourself?

Steffen BräunerMy name is Steffen Bräuner and I live in the 2nd largest city in Denmark, Århus. I work as a surveyor and apart from being interested in whisky, I like to drink beer. I also like to play bridge, not necesarily at the same time as having a dram

2. How did it all start, what’s your first experience of whisky?

I have been drinking whisky as long as I can remember. I can’t remember not liking whisky. I remember not liking beer, wine etc… So basically I have always been a whisky drinker. In my twenties I participated in a few whisky tastings, but I didn’t really get serious about it until 1997 when I met a Scot and 6 different bottles of whiskies in Norway of all places. Shortly after that, I bought my first bottle of single malt and there’s been no looking back.

3. What’s your favourite and worst whisky experience and why?

It’s hard for me to name my favourite whisky experience, there’s been so many good. My first attendance to the annual Las Vegas meeting in PLOWED, Ardbeggeddon 2010 is surely a highlight, great people and great whisky. A day at Spirit of Speyside 2009 when I visited Benromach and tried a 55yo and later that day had a 60yo Mortlach at a Mortlach vertical with Gordon & Macphail stands as an impressive day. In general I attend and enjoy whisky fairs and festivals a lot, being it the Fringe, Limburg, with a local wineshop in Hadsten, Denmark, or some of the numerous private gatherings we have locally in Århus

Bad whisky experiences has been far apart, and considering the amount of whisky I drink and the amount of events I attend things are bound to go wrong now and again. I don’t mind unlucky accidents, I only get annoyed when things are retarded :-) . Worst experience I had was propably a masterclass at a spirits fair in Denmark a few years back. Now it happened to be with Cognac, but it could as well have been with whisky. The masterclass was fine, the host was excellent as well as the drams, of which some were very old. But a very limited timeschedule, didn’t give us time to finish and enjoy the drams and the bouncer-like guards kicking us out from the masterclass was just a very humiliating experience. I guess the guys organising the fair was in it for the money, and didn’t have any respect for the excellent products being promoted. A shame for the visitors and the presenters. Similar things happen now and again but all the great experiences made me forget the few bad ones.

4. What’s your opinion on today’s whisky rating systems (1-10, 1-100, stars etc.)?

It’s cool. I don’t mind whiskyratings. Just don’t take them more serious than they are, and its always a personal opinion as good as yours and mines. Basically I like to know if the reviewer likes a whisky or not. Tasting notes can be harder to rely to than ratings, actually.

5. How do you taste whisky? Do you use water, and when?

I drink it neat, I seldom add a drop of water. If a whisky is strong on ABV, like George T Stagg, I just consume it dropwise. I always use a proper glass and I like to nose and sip whisky as one experience. I also like to finish one whisky before getting on to the next one at tastings, opposed to most others who can head-to-head sample whisky. I like to give each whisky its time and attention. If I switch around glasses to often I just mix things up and get confused

6. How is the whisky ‘climate’ (bars, clubs, events & magazines etc.) in your country?

A few good bars in Århus. No whisky clubs as far as I know, but I got a string of whisky friends who meet up regularely. No clubs, but a lot of social gatherings with agendas no clubs I’ve heard of have been able to beat. We often have a themed day with everyone bringing a couple of bottles within the theme, and with around 10 people gathering, and the quality of the bottles at the highest level (what about 20+ Caperdonich, most from 1972?) its always a good day.

7. What’s your opinion on different cask-finish expression?

Not my thing. I don’t really like wine, maybe that’s why I don’t like finishes (as much as nonfinished whisky products)

8. What is your opinion on the whisky snobbery that some are talking and writing about?

Whisky snobbery ? The only ones I met was connected to whisky marketing :-) . Most people I meet are geeks, not snobs, and I am sure that’s how we appear to non whisky drinkers as well

9. Where in the world would you like to go to try whisky? Why, do you have a favourite place, distillery or country?

I’d like to tour Kentucky, Japan, and visit Amrut in Bangalore. So far I’ve been to Scotland 10+ times and will continue to go. Scotland is still my favourite whisky country. I don’t really have a favourite distillery, but a whole range: Bladnoch, Caperdonich, Ardbeg is probably my top 3.

10. What whisky trends are you seeing, how does the future look like?

I really hope that independent bottlers will always be able to bottle their endless range of single cask bottlings, big companies with big general approaches to the world market is never gonna be able to fullfill my whiskywishes and needs. I can be afraid that the success of whisky worldwide will limit the choices, but end of the day, its a lot better today than 20 years ago, and I am sure free market competition will take care of things in the long run.

Did you enjoy the inter view? If you would like to be part of the serie or know some one else who would, please let me know.

  1. Inter view with Filip Ling
  2. Inter view with Gal Granov
  3. Inter view with Jörg Bechtold
  4. Interview with Mark Gillespie
  5. Interview with Thomas Maufer
  6. Interview with Steffen Bräuner