SMWS PARTNER BAR
A dream whisky destination in Denmark
WORDS: RICHARD GOSLAN
The small town of Vejle might be somewhat off the map for many visitors to Denmark, but if you’re in search of the country’s best whisky bar, it’s well worth the journey. In fact, Vejle is pretty central by Danish standards, and with a train service as comfortable and efficient as the Danish one you can get there from Copenhagen in just over two hours
If you only ever have one reason to visit Vejle, the Society’s partner bar at the ToRVEhallerne hotel is good enough. Just next to the town’s train station, the hotel has been home to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Danish branch since May 2012, under the guidance of hotel owner Terje Thesbjerg and SMWS manager and brand ambassador in Denmark, Thomas Korsgaard.
Terje had been working professionally with wine and beverages since 1994, and in early 2001 he started to build an impressive selection of malts at the hotel bar. Then a chance encounter encouraged him to explore a new relationship with the SMWS.
“In 2008 I was introduced to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society by a Scottish guest at our hotel, Jim Davis,” says Terje.
Above: SMWS Denmark manager Thomas Korsgaard
“At the time we had a whisky bar with around 200 different bottlings, but I was amazed by the complex taste, the non-chillfiltered whisky, the oily liquid and the cask strength Society bottlings. It was a complete eye-opener, because before this cask strength whisky was rarely seen in Denmark.
“In late 2011 we applied to get a branch of the Society in Denmark, and in May 2012 it became a reality. ToRVEhallerne today has a four-star hotel, three restaurants, a gin bar and an SMWS whisky bar.”
The whisky collection at the bar is now made up of around 85 per cent SMWS bottlings, with roughly 200 open bottles that are updated on a constant basis.
“The whisky guests at the bar love the fact that there always are new bottlings available to sample,” says Terje. “It’s wonderful to be able to provide our guests with the high quality that the SMWS provides, and it’s very helpful to be able to use the Society’s flavour profiles when you need to recommend the right dram to the guests. The general reaction we get from people who haven’t had the opportunity to try SMWS whisky before is simply ‘Wow!’. They are really surprised by the high alcohol strength, and the rich and oily taste.”
Vejle is now a place of pilgrimage for whisky fans from across the country, and from much further afield, especially for the annual whisky festival that takes place at the Society branch each year.
“We Danes like to think of ourselves as all the same, and it doesn’t matter about where you were educated or where you live or anything else like that,” says Thomas Korsgaard. “We have a distrust of snobbery or a sense of exclusivity, and that was one of the reasons why I fell in love with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It wasn’t only the quality of the whisky, I loved the idea of bringing people together over a dram, and no matter where in society you came from you could get people to be friends over whisky.”
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Denmark, you’re guaranteed to make friends in Vejle. Mark it down as a ‘must-visit’ Society partner bar.