Winner prize redeemed

A day in Claudio Bernasconi's whisky collection

Valentin Aleksandrowicz, winner of the 2nd SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN, was allowed to spend an unforgettable day together with his best friend Guillaume in the private whisky collection of Claudio Bernasconi.
The winner of the SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN Valentin Aleksandrowicz (right) visiting Claudio Bernasconi's whisky cellar.

Over 30 degrees Celsius in the shade. Hardly anyone who voluntarily spends time in the blazing heat. Valentin Aleksandrowicz probably found the most pleasant place shortly before the longest day - in the private whisky collection of Claudio Bernasconi.

As the winner of the 2nd SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN, the largest Swiss cocktail competition, the 25-year-old Barkeeper has won an exclusive private event in the cool cellar where Bernasconi keeps his private treasures.

Entering, on the left the impressive collection of ties, passing through the library with whisky books, you reach a place that makes the heart of every whisky lover beat faster: the room with over 5,000 different whisky rarities.

One shelf after the other with partly ancient single malts, limited special editions or even special bottlings created especially for the Hotel Waldhaus or Claudio Bernasconi himself.

The whiskey legend's warm welcome consisted not only of a freshly prepared meat and cheese plate, but also a Bushmills 10, an Irish whiskey that is apparently also best enjoyed before lunchtime. Triple distilled and with a nice sherry note - certainly a worthy prelude to what should become an odyssey through the exceptional whiskeys in Bernasconi's whiskey collection.

A time travel through Scotland

With the first impressions intus, Valentin and Guillaume, his friend whom he had invited for the exclusive occasion, follow the whisky legend's step through the shelves. The professional Barkeeper quite a few of the whisky brands are well known. "At the Ermitage in Schönried, we also had a large whisky selection. But the collection Bernasconi has here is unbelievable."

For example, the Macallan should still be a household name to everyone, but the fact that you get to see one of only 250 "Tales of the Macallan" bottlings worldwide with the accompanying book is anything but commonplace.

One of only 250 "Tales of the Macallan" bottlings worldwide

After the first tour, Valentin, a lover of smoky whiskies, has already spotted his next dram on the shelf with the opened bottles: the Octomore 07.3 with 169 ppm. Less the taste of Valentin's friend Guillaume, who is certainly enthusiastic about whiskies, but as a DJ can do more with a high bpm.

I like peaty, smoky whiskies.

Valentin Aleksandrowicz, winner of the 2nd SWISS COCKAIL OPEN

But Claudio Bernasconi notes that the ppm figure says nothing about how smoky the whiskey really is in the end: "I could pick out a whiskey for you with half the ppm and it would be much smokier than the Octomore," he explains to the two. The reason is that the phenolic content, which is responsible for the smoky note in the whisky, is measured in the malt and not in the finished whisky.

Lunch with whisky accompaniment

After a few more malts, lunch is called. It's time to lend a hand to the sumptuous fish plate with lobster, langoustine and mango-salmon tartare. To accompany it, we drink another Irishman: Redbreast 21, which with its mango note goes perfectly with the tartare.

A mushroom risotto follows, and since there's still some room in the stomach, Bernasconi throws on his grill. Finally, he serves a heart-shaped apricot cake - with whiskey accompaniment, of course.

Before the unforgettable day draws to a close, Claudio Bernasconi takes us on a tour of his garden and, back in the cool cellar, shows us his other collector's items. In addition to gin, rum, brandy, and other spirits, the whiskey icon also collects chessboards, neckties, and 25,000 different vinyl records and CDs, each of which sounds absolutely epic on the McIntosh system.

A 31-year-old Glenlivet marks the end of a day that Valentin will probably remember for a long time. Thanks to his victory at the SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN, Valentin not only won this exclusive event, he also benefited from considerable media coverage in French-speaking Switzerland.

"In the weeks following SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN, guests ordered almost twice as many cocktails as before," says the 25-year-old.

This article appeared in
Issue 3-2022

BAR NEWS magazine as single issue

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