A meeting with a Belgian whisky pioneer after working in bars from London to Shanghai sparked the passion for Scotch that Thomas Fischer now shares with visitors to Oscar’s in Hanover
PHOTOS: KARSTEN DAVIDEIT
A chance encounter with Michel Couvreur – the Belgian wine merchant who went on to devote himself from the late 1970s to the art of maturing Scotch in at-the-time unfamiliar wine barrels in his cellar in Burgundy – was the key to Thomas Fischer finding a new course for his own life.
The young German had studied law but ended up bored and looking for an alternative path in life, working in bars and travelling from his native Bavaria to work in London’s Brixton neighbourhood, on to Montreal in Canada and as far afield as Shanghai. Then he ended up behind the bar at the luxurious Brenners Park Hotel in the German spa town of Baden-Baden. “I met Michael Couvreur at the bar one evening and we got into conversation,” says Thomas.
“He went to his room and brought back a bottle of his own single malt whisky from 1974. We shared a few glasses and it was a revelation – my passion for single malt whisky was immediately aroused.
“He gifted me that bottle, and that inspired me when I moved to Hanover to start working in Oscar’s Bar, with a focus on the tradition of single malt whisky.”
At Oscar’s Bar, Thomas has accumulated an outstanding collection of whiskies, including an impressive gantry of Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottlings. Oscar’s has been named one of Germany’s six best whisky bars by the food and drink magazine Feinschmecker, and is renowned not only for its range of whiskies but for its devotion to classic cocktails, served in a traditional, timeless art nouveau-designed bar.
“Oscar’s is a cocktail bar at its heart, but we try to make it feel like an extension of someone’s living room, welcoming guests from all over the world,” says Thomas.
“For me, single malt whisky has the largest and most interesting range of flavours, so my focus is not only on Scotch but on an international selection from Japan to Australia and elsewhere, many of them bottled at cask strength like the SMWS bottlings.”
Thomas likes to introduce younger drinkers to the world of single malt whisky, holding tastings with intriguing bottlings with different forms of distillation – and sometimes unusual names.
“Oscar’s is a cocktail bar at its heart, but we try to make it feel like an extension of someone’s living room”
“We get a great reaction to the SMWS bottlings, not only for the quality of the casks but for the bottle names,” he says. “One that sticks in my mind recently was Cask No. 100.20: Kermit’s Kale Knackwurst.
“That one certainly got a good reaction!
“Our clientele seem to appreciate something that is traditional but also innovative and fresh in its approach – and there’s nothing better to me than opening a special bottling and being able to share it and open someone’s mind when they experience a whisky like that for the first time.”
Oscar’s has been named one of Germany’s six best whisky bars and is renowned not only for its range of whiskies but for its devotion to classic cocktails