We’re over a week into Advent, and today we’re off to Denmark with a genius mish-mash of a whisky. Get ready to say hello to Stauning KAOS!

We’ve made it through the first week of Advent! Not that it’s been too hard, enjoying a new drink every day. Drinks by the Dram really have made the countdown pretty delicious, haven’t they? 

Today we’re taking your taste buds to Denmark – specifically, the Stauning distillery. Scandinavia has really been churning out some incredible whisky in recent years, and Stauning KAOS, today’s dram from Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar Explorers’ Edition, is one such example.

Stauning KAOS

The Stauning story

If there was a template for the opening of a craft distillery, Stauning might just about take the biscuit. Founded in May 2005 by a doctor, a butcher, a teacher, a helicopter pilot, and four engineers, it began life operating out of a slaughterhouse owned by the teacher. Just kidding, it was the butcher. 

Barley was sourced from a local farmer and peated on a grill in the smokehouse, the cold store was used for floor malting, the grist was minced in the meat grinder, and distillation occurred in two small wood-fired pots stills. Money was raised to buy a farm and they turned it into a small distillery in 2007.

It was enough to turn Diageo’s head, which acquired a minority stake in 2015. Around £50 million of investment later and by 2018, Stauning was able to open the doors to Denmark’s first purpose-built distillery. It still manages to source its rye and barley from farms within a 9-12 mile radius, and peats around 25% of its grain, sourced locally, of course.

Stauning KAOS

Most of the time, smushing multiple things you love together doesn’t make one superior thing. Just ask about the time I tried marmite and jam on toast (it is not a thing guys). But when Stauning did it, the result was wonderful.

KAOS is essentially everything Stauning does in one bottle, made from a combination of single malt, malted rye, and peated whisky – but it’s far from chaotic. The name came from the former Danish prime minister, Thorvald Stauning, who used the slogan “Stauning or Chaos” (“Stauning eller Kaos” in Danish) for his reelection campaign in 1935. It’s matured in heavily-charred virgin American oak barrels and first-fill Maker’s Mark casks, balancing nutty, sweet, and spicy flavours. The peat is far from overwhelming, making it a good beginner smoky whisky.

Stauning Kaos Manhattan

Time for a Stauning KAOS Manhattan!

Tasting note for Stauning KAOS

Nose: Through a hint of oaky tannins and fresh gingerbread there’s vanilla, orange boiled sweets and salted caramel. There’s a combination of lemon peel, sweet orchard fruits, mostly pears and maritime notes that are reminiscent of Caol Ila, but the unmistakable rich and creamy rye influence adds an interesting contrast. With time comes more smoke and sea (a bonfire on a beach) as well as hints of Chocolate Cornflakes and a little dried fruit.

Palate: It’s a really tasty, balanced palate full of nutty, sweet and spicy goodness. First, there’s toffee popcorn, stewed apple, whipped hazelnut cream and a hint of black wine gums, with chocolate orange, sweet tobacco, black pepper, nutmeg, and a prickle of woody tannins in support. 

Finish: More cooked orchard fruit lingers with baking spice and liquorice.

How to make a Stauning KAOS Manhattan

50ml Stauning KAOS

25ml sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir for 15-20 seconds before straining into a coupette glass, then add a Maraschino cherry and serve.


We’ll be back tomorrow with another Advent dram. Cheers!