Whisky Tasting: Swiss Highland Single Malt Whisky Classic

It is one of life’s fortunes to be surprised. A whisky loving colleague, during a recent trip to Switzerland, was astounded to find the Swiss made whisky, too. A very generous whisky loving colleague, he gifted me a sample. And now I’m sharing the tasting experience with you.

Switzerland: makers of fine chocolate, and ferociously useful pocket knives; hoarders of wealth and looted treasure. Not known as makers of whisky, they are new kids on the block as it’s only been a few years they’ve legally been able to distill from staple foods like barley. And they are catching up: Bruichladdich legend Jim McEwan has taken Rugen Distillery under his wing; and Jim Murray gave their Swiss Highland Single Malt Whisky Classic a 95 in his 2012 Whisky Bible.

So is it up to the hype? As a long-time hype buster I’m willing to give it a go. I will say that the colour is an amazing gold, stunning.

Nose: Lots of green fresh maltiness, a little chemically, a whiff of alcohol stronger than expected for a 46% dram. Some vanilla, almost a hint of a rye whiskey.

Taste: Smooth and light, not floral light but a sweet light caramel. Some vanilla, hints of coffee, and malty goodness ridding along. Maybe some sweet orange.

Finish: Sweet, and lingering. Not big and long, but very pleasant.

And with a drop of water…

Nose: dials the alcohol right down. Maybe less of the green, and a touch more vanilla.

Taste: Lighter.

Finish: Sweet, fades away quickly and beautifully.

And the official tasting notes.


COLOUR Sunny gold
BODY A soft start and very easy on the tongue   
NOSE A good nose with sweet vinous notes of sherry and hints of malty caramel. The fruitiness of apricot and peach can also be detected, together with notes of honey.
PALATE The complex aroma of the nose is confirmed on the palate. Slightly woody, dry flavours are combined with vanilla and caramel to create a wonderful interplay and an impressive balance. This whisky makes its mark with a long aromatic finish.

It’s light and gorgeous, hints of Rye and Irish whiskies. If it was available for under $100-$150 AUD a bottle it’d be a steal. However it seems that they only make around 3,000 bottles a year, and no one in Australia seems to import it, I suspect it’d retail for a whole lot more if it can be found at all.

Is it up to the hype? It’s good. Worth checking out should the opportunity arise. If you like lighter whiskies, keep an eye out.