Since May 2015, visitors to the Alpstein mountains in the Appenzell Alps can embark on the highest whisky trek in the world. The brainchild of the Locher brewery – famous for its Säntis Malt whisky – and the Bergwirte-Verein Alpstein (Alpstein mountain landlords’ association), the trek offers whisky-tasting like you’ve never experienced it before.
Sepp Manser, landlord at the Berggasthaus Meglisalp mountain inn, came up with the idea of creating a whisky trek when he decided to serve up his own, unique version of Säntis Malt in 2012. His idea very swiftly became a reality – all 26 of the associated local mountain inns have now joined the trail, each with their very own barrel of whisky on hand for on-site tasting.
Each of these barrels of whisky contains the same basic distillate, Säntis Malt made by the Locher brewery. But that’s where the similarity ends: Each of the barrels is unique, differing from the others in the type of wood used in its construction and its previous contents. The barrels are made from American, Portuguese, French or Russian oak, and were previously filled with desert wine, Merlot, Pinot noir, Sauvignon, Gamay, Zweigelt, port, sherry, rum, bourbon, damson schnapps or even beer. This diversity results in 26 totally unique flavours along the Appenzell Whisky Trek.
Just seeing the barrels is an experience, not to mention the tasting of the whisky itself. As well as varying in flavour, the different whiskies each boast a different colour, with shades ranging from amber and white gold through to rose gold and deep copper.
The exclusivity of the unique whiskies is upheld by ensuring that they are only available to taste in the individual mountain inn or to buy in small (1dl) or large (5dl) “one-of-a-kind” bottles, each signed personally by the “cask keeper” – the landlord.
The last collectors’ coupons were issued in 2019 and can be redeemed in the individual mountain inns until the end of 2020. But don’t panic – the Whisky Trek will continue to exist and it will still be possible to taste and buy the whiskies on site as before.
We hope you enjoy this true feast for the senses in the Alpstein mountains, where the whisky is as breathtakingly unique as the surrounding scenery.