People

Kellar trends

Andreas Haller has turned his hobby into something more serious
By Andreas Haller
Not all of us get the opportunity to turn our hobby into something more serious, but Andreas Haller has managed it.

A policeman by profession, he fell in love with whisky a few years ago and since then has developed his hobby in to a thriving business specialising in independent bottlings of Scottish single malt.

Introduced to malt whisky by his cousin’s wife a few years back, his interest was fired by several trips to visit distilleries in Scotland. And as his passion grew the logical next step seemed to be to start bringing special malts he discovered back to Germany for others to enjoy.

“It began because I used to meet my friend to drink whisky but often we would find that the local supermarket shelf had nothing new for us,”he recalls.“So we started to search for other sources to get our whisky.Then other people would ask me to help them get their favourite bottle of whisky. Eventually it seemed logical to take the next step and open Der Whiskykellar. That was in 2002 and it’s been a dream come true.”

Haller continued his day job as a special policeman tracking down criminals on the run. He manages to keep the shop running by being very flexible with his time and devoting much free time and holidays to it.

Since that time Haller has built up a special working relationship with some suppliers, but he says: “Back in 2003 on one of my educational trips to Scotland my wife Katrin and I had a wonderful evening with Doug McIvor of Berry Bros & Rudd. He told us all about Berrys’ Own Selection and explained a lot about the company and two weeks later when we were back in Germany Doug rang and asked me to do the German distribution for Berrys’ Own Selection. Now that is the closest relationship we have.

“It’s not just a business relationship, it’s always nice to meet the people behind the company and I’m happy to meet new people and create new friendships. I met Alistair Walker at a whisky fair in Munich a few years ago and my wife and I invited him to a local bar.This was the beginning of a friendly relationship that influenced our decision to launch the Whisky Tales bottlings.”

Haller attends five or six European whisky shows a year as an exhibitor and has built up a loyal following for the shop through newsletters and through tutored whisky tastings. Much of the shop’s business is done through the internet.

He is optimistic about the future for whisky in Germany.

“There is still a great and growing passion for whisky in Germany,”he says.“I see more and more women interested in whisky, and more and more of them ordering peaty and smoky expressions o f the spirit. And in Germany whisky certainly isn’t an old man’s drink any more, and in recent years it seems a younger generation have discovered a passion for single malt, too.

“My only concern is where the industry is with prices. I think we are at an important point. Prices have risen considerably in recent years and there has been some incredible hype about some distilleries which has pushed up the price even more. I hear more and more customers worrying about this. It seems that the attention is on the collectors’ market. Don’t forget the drinkers -they’re the most important part.”

Haller’s advice to whisky enthusiasts attending whisky shows is to take their heads out of the whisky guides, to open their eyes and take a good look around when they visit shows and fairs.

“I find it funny to see people across fairs with their whisky books only looking for whiskies listed in their books. It’s like a tourist walking through a foreign city always looking in his guide but missing the beautiful park or small church that’s not listed in the book as he passes by.

“Whisky books can be a big help of course, but whisky enthusiasts should walk on their own. Some very good whiskies, particularly from independent sources, aren’t listed i books. Are you going to take the chance of missing them?”

Andreas and Katrin share a love of Scotland and visit as often as they are able to.

“Of course I try and visit as many distilleries as I can on such trips,”he says.“But I always find time for walking among such wonderful nature. At the end of such a day there’s nothing better than visiting a pub and having a chat with the locals while enjoying a pint and then going for a fine dinner and a healthy dram.

“Scotland is a wonderful place that everyone should visit, even if they’re not a whisky lover. But if you like whisky, you’ll love it twice as much.”


Profile



Name: Andreas Haller
Age: 37
Home: Burschied, Germany
Currently drinking: A Laphroaig 1998 and an Inchgower 1980.
Favourite whiskies: It varies from time to time but at the moment Berrys’ Own Selection Glenlivet 1982, Whisky Tales Ben Nevis 13 Year Old and Berry’s Own Selection Glen Grant 1993.
Favourite distilleries: Glen Grant for its wonderful gardens, Arran because it’s a lovely young distillery on a lovely island, and Glenrothes, a walk through history but unfortunately not open to the public.