Let's Talk about Romania's First Single Malt - Carpathian

Published on 18 November 2022 at 12:33

Another nation joins Europe's whisky-making nations

Anyone who's been to Romania will know it's a beautiful country, overflowing with forests, rivers, and mountains. The last of those is what gives the name to Romania's first single malt whisky: Carpathian

Every distillery on the EuroWhisky map comes with a number and three-letter code. In this case, Carpathian single malt comes from the Alexandrion Distillery, code ASD and no. 304.


The Cathedral of Ploiesti



Left: Cathedral St John the Baptist in Ploiești 

(CC BY 3.0) Albacore70,  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ploie%C8%99ti#/media/File:Ploiesti-Catedrala-3.JPG



Alexandrion Distillery lies just north-east of the town of Ploiești - you can get there from Bucharest's famous Gara de Nord in under an hour. If you want to plan a trip to get there, visit other parts of Romania or get there by train, take a look here. If you want to plan a trip to get there, visit other parts of Romania or get there by train, take a look here .

Ploiești is perched at the foot of the Carpathian mountains, and the distillery has some unique features. A cathedral from the town gives an idea of ​​some local architecture.


Alexandrion Saber took on Allan Anderson as their Master Distiller, a man with years of experience at the Great Northern distillery and Slane Castle in Ireland, alongside Whyte & Mackay, Invergordon, and Loch Lomond in Scotland. They clearly knew how to pick someone with fantastic credentials, so I'm hardly worried about the spirit being good quality. That said, I would also like to see how Romanian locals are being involved in the business. 



The distillery makes a lot of hay about their whiskey being matured in Romanian wine casks. That Romania has a long history of wine-growing may be a surprise to some, but the country produces more than New Zealand. Look above Romania in the rankings, and the next country up is Portugal! Neighbors Bulgaria and Moldova also have incredibly long-established winemaking traditions… maybe this could spur them to get whiskey making/aging too?


Still, this is EuroWhisky, not EuroWine. 


One key difference between this distillery and those in Scotland & Ireland is the weather . Average temperatures are higher in the distillery's Ploesti base: that means faster maturation. Between April and October, the town's temperature ranges from lows of 6°C up to highs of 28°C


In contrast, a Scottish whisky-making town like Keith sees lows of 2.6°C and highs of only 18.5°C . These Carpathian malts are all <5 years old, but that won't mean they're necessarily under-matured at all.



To start, everything that Alexandrion offers is non-chill filtered , 46% ABV, and first aged for three years in first-fill bourbon barrels - Kentucky bourbon, to be specific. All the malt used comes from Romania itself, the first batch being harvested in 2016. They then split their single malts into multiple expressions by splitting it between nine different finishing barrels.


Romanian Wines: Fetească Neagră, Pinot Noir

Despite the emphasis on Romanian wine, only one of Alexandrion's expressions seems to be aged in Romanian wine. Feteasca Neagra (named for the local grapes, meaning 'black maiden'). This is going to be the most distinctively Romanian product, so we're very keen for it to be a EuroWhisky product! That said, we're not shy about trying the Pinot Noir either… both have a bold bronze color in promotional images.


Sherry: Oloroso, PX

500L Oloroso and PX casks for finishing - simple!


Portuguese fortified wines: Tawny Port, Madeira

The Port barrel used for this finish is 500L. They don't specify with the Madeira, but we can assume it's something pretty similar.


French: Burgundy, Cognac

Finished in 225L and 285L European oak casks respectively



This might be the most unique expression besides the Romanian wines - this is a Cypriot wine cask finish! Never seen this on another European whisky. The closest thing I know of geographically is a limited edition Santis (Swiss whiskey - no.21 on our map) aged in Lebanese wine casks. The barrels are 200L (relatively small for wine), so we can assume ageing is fairly rapid. Tasting notes include vanilla, raisin, fig… this is going to reach right to the edge of Europe and combine Romanian and Cypriot products in a way never before seen, especially in the world of whisky!


This is clearly a well-funded, well-planned distillery with good distilling and maturation capacity. So many new distilleries, especially the first in their country, would focus on a single strong expression or trademark. Think of Penderyn launching Welsh whiskey with a unique still and the unique choice to make Madeira a default finish. It's ambitious of Alexandrion to emphasizee local products (using Romanian wine) while also producing a wide range of starting expressions.


Can't wait to try it and make it part of EuroWhisky's range!

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