Last month, the Alexandrion Group, Romania’s largest spirits and wine producers, unveiled their brand-new Carpathian Single Malt Whisky to the UK at The Royal Automobile Club in Central London in the presence of H.E. Mrs. Laura Popescu, the Ambassador of Romania to the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Mr. Alexandru Dodan, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Romania to the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland and Dr. Nawaf Salameh, Founding Chairman of the Alexandrion Group.
Addressing the audience during the evening, where we got the opportunity to try all three expressions of the new whisky, Dr. Nawaf Salameh said:
“One month ago, we were in Washington, at the residence of H. E. Mr. Dan Andrei Muraru, the Ambassador of Romania to the USA, where we introduced Carpathian Single Malt to the global market for the first time. It was the beginning of our journey around the world, with the first single malt whisky ever produced in Romania. The second destination of our global tour was London, and it was a true honour for me to be there, at the home of whisky, talking about a product with so much tradition, pride and history that I respect so much, in a historical exclusive venue, the Royal Automobile Club, which perfectly complements the profile of Carpathian Single Malt. The British are the pioneers of single malt whisky production, this knowledge is something we can tap into to help us grow and develop our product even further. I am grateful to the Romanian Embassy to United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland for supporting us in organizing a spectacular event.”
Mr. Alexandru Dodan, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Romania to the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland added:
“Just like many other people I was intrigued by the idea of unveiling a Romanian single malt whisky produced according to a Scottish method, in the country that gave birth to single malt whisky and made it famous all over the world. But reading the story and seeing the enthusiasm around it, the winning spirit and the passion put into the whole project, from idea to product, I am now sure that Carpathian Single Malt will be a success on the British market for both Alexandrion Group and for Romania. The Romanian Embassy in London is honoured to be Alexandrion Group’s partner in launching Carpathian Single Malt on the UK market and we will continue to support the Group, through the commercial and economic section, to introduce the product to the UK consumers.”
The following day a small group of journalists met for lunch at The Ivy in Covent Garden to learn more about this exciting new Romanian whisky and hear about plans for the Alexandrion Group to open an office here in the UK as well a distillery in Scotland.
Carpathian Single Malt is made using 100 per cent malted barley that is produced in Romania where it is distilled, matured and bottled at the Alexandrion Saber 1789 Distilleries in Bucov, Prahova County, near the beautiful Carpathian Mountains. This first ever Romanian single malt whisky is made with pure Sub-Carpathian water which is renowned for its quality and natural colour. It is unchill filtered and bottled at 46 per cent alcohol.
Consisting of just 930 bottles, Alexandrion Group’s inaugural single malt limited edition whisky comes in three ‘finishings’. The first two, Feteasca Neagra and Pinot Noir, are part of the Romanian Wine Cask Selection, whilst the third, Madeira, is part of the Spanish and Portuguese Wine Cask Selection.
The Feteasca Neagra and Madeira finishings were initially matured in first-fill Bourbon casks of white American Oak, while the Pinot Noir expression was matured exclusively in a European Oak red wine cask sourced from the group’s own Romanian Pinot Noir casks, which is a world first for single malt production.
Feteasca Neagra is amber in colour. The nose is intense with hints of black pepper, cloves and candies. It has a medium body with a taste of vanilla, raisins, bananas and pineapple, and has a sweet, rich and complex finish to it.
Madeira, which is my favourite, has a deep copper colour to it. To the nose it has an intense scent with hints of white pepper, oak, honey, raisins and candies. You can taste honey, red grapes and raspberries, and it gives off a light nutty aroma, while the finish is sweet, long and complex.
The Pinot Noir is amber in colour and has a high intensity with notes of white pepper, oak, honey, raisins and candy. Again, you can taste honey, raisins, red grapes, raspberry with a light nutty flavour. The finish is sweet, well rounded and also complex like the first two.
As Dr. Salameh explains:
“We have been quietly distilling and maturing the single malt whisky liquid since 2017, sourcing casks from all over Europe and the USA. This is the first chance single malt enthusiasts will have to enjoy a Carpathian whisky.”
Interestingly, Romania has been producing wine for over 2,000 years and is actually one of the largest wine producers in the world. Alexandrion Group, through Alexandrion Rhein Domains 1892, its wine division, produces some of the best award-winning wines in Romania and has been a supplier of the Royal House of Romania for the oldest sparkling wine produced in Romania, Rhein, since 1904. Its vineyards are located in the Dealu Mare region, on the 45th parallel, which is similar to the Bordeaux region.
In fact, earlier this year, the Feteasca Neagra variety was awarded the Double Gold medal in one of the most prestigious international competitions, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, and is considered the best red Romanian wine with its spicy, smoky fruit characters and good tannin structure.
The malted barley for this inaugural whisky edition was harvested back in 2016, distilled in 2017, with the first maturation taking place in first-fill Bourbon casks, wine casks and a range of finishing casks.
Allan Anderson is the Master Distiller of the Carpathian Single Malt. He boasts both Scottish and Irish heritage and has more than 30 years of experience in producing both Scotch whisky (Loch Lomond, White & Mackay, Aberargie) and Irish whiskey (The Great Northern Distillery). He also takes credit for designing the distillery of Slane Castle Ireland.
Anderson adds that:
“This whisky perfectly showcases our distillery terroir. The huge flavour impact of our malted barley, the pure sub-Carpathian water combined with the unique flavors of Romanian and Portuguese wine casks make Carpathian Single Malt an exquisite whisky, which without doubt will become one of the best in the world as it further matures. The maturation in warmer climate regions vs Scotland (+5⁰C on average) might explain the unique, milder character of this superb whisky.”
The commercial edition of Carpathian Single Malt will launch with 10,000 bottles on the Romanian market in the last quarter of 2022, featuring up to 11 finishings, some of them in world premiere.
For more information on Carpathian Single Malt, please visit: www.carpathian-singlemalt.com.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of the Alexandrion Group