Since 2002, whisky lovers from around the world have headed to Limburg an der Lahn in western Germany for the Whisky Fair. The same year, Robin Pitz, a professional barkeeper, came to Limburg with the idea of opening a whisky bar. A few years later he opened Villa Konthor, which became an SMWS partner bar just one year later in 2008. As the bar celebrates its 15th anniversary, Mads Schmoll spoke to Robin about what makes it such a special place for whisky lovers
For Villa Konthor owner Robin Pitz, it all goes back to a fascination with whisky and Scotland, which increased when he started working in bars. “I have worked in hotel bars since 1992 and I am a professional barkeeper, which we call ‘Barmeister’ in Germany,” says Robin.
“Over the years, and especially during my time working in the UK, my fascination with whisky and Scotland grew to become a real passion.”
ABOVE: Robin Pitz identifies the location of Distillery No.37
ABOVE: Some new highlights to be sampled in Limburg
“Back in Frankfurt, I worked as a head bartender at the Intercontinental Hotel, which hosted the first whisky festival in Germany, the InterWhisky, for many years. I met a lot of people from the whisky business in those days and was always fascinated. When I started in Limburg, I met more whisky enthusiasts and so my journey carried on, with the idea to open a whisky bar.”
If you have never been to Limburg, it is like something out of a storybook with small streets, medieval buildings and soaring cathedral spires. Flanked by the Lahn River and ancient forests, the town is as stunning in the depths of winter as in the hot summer.
“The whisky bar is in a city villa built in 1890 with around 30 seats,” Robin says. “We serve beer, wine, gin, rum and whisky, with Scotch making up over 90 per cent of our bottles.”
With a regular programme of tastings, there’s plenty to get involved in, including a regular whisky ‘Stammtisch’ – whisky dinners and an afternoon tea complete with scones.
“The concept is all about tastings,” says Robin. “Mainly whisky, but I host gin, rum, wine and chocolate tastings as well. Villa Konthor is very cosy and people enjoy it. We have around 800 open whisky bottles, and you’ll also find a whisky shop and a tasting room/event space in our beautiful cellar.
“There are of course a lot of whiskies for sale as well. The more expensive ones are in a glass display case, the others are in our shop.
“We have around 30 of our own different Villa Konthor bottlings available as well,” says Robin. You’ll also find plenty of single malts, single casks and independent bottlings and with it, connections to many other well-known whisky names.
If that wasn’t enough reason to visit, with 120 SMWS bottles, there are plenty of Society bottlings for members to try. “The reaction to the SMWS bottlings is great,” Robin says. “We have been an SMWS partner bar since 2008 and it’s always a great honour to work with the products from the SMWS. We do tastings with the Society on a regular basis and I enjoy doing online tastings as well, so I have the chance to try the bottlings myself. I am a very happy SMWS partner!”
ABOVE: Robin nosing a dram in the Gewölbekeller
To find out more about Society tastings at Villa Konthor, visit https://www.villakonthor.de/