Mario Rudolf, Blender & Master Distiller

Single Malt Whisky - Made in Germany

Our Story

Andreas Thümmler, David F. Hynes and Mario Rudolf

How St. Kilian Distillers became what we are today

Three whisky connoisseurs, one idea. A village with 760 inhabitants,
Germany's largest whisky distillery.

In the 7th century, three monks from Ireland Christianised Franconia. In their luggage they had the "Aqua Vitae" - the water of life - and a technology for its production. Did they succeed in convincing the pagans of Christianity? In the end, they became martyrs and are still venerated today as the holy apostles of the Franks, St. Kilian, Kolonat and Totnan.

Ireland was Christianized early on, and so in the 6th century Irish missionaries traveled as far as the Middle East. There they discovered the art of distillation at
the Arabs with the help of small copper pot stills. The resulting alcohol was enriched with spices, herbs and flowers and served as a perfume. The Irish monks drank it and found the "Aqua Vitae", as they named it in Latin, to be a formidable medicine for body and mind. From then on, and with this knowledge gained, Aqua Vitae was distilled and distributed in the monasteries of Ireland on copper stills. A barley spirit, comparable to today's "New Make" (Spirit) of the whiskey distilleries.

Three travelling monks on their way to Franconia with "Aqua Vitae" in their luggage

In the 7th century, the monks Kilian, Kolonat and Totnan traveled to Franconia on the instructions of the Pope in Rome to Christianize the stubborn pagans there. All previous attempts had failed. Their predecessors all ended up at the stake. In their luggage, however, they had for the first time the "Aqua Vitae" - the water of life as well as a small copper still for its production. They presented their barley brandy as a gift to King Gosbert and his queen Gailana at the court of Würzburg and reported on its healing effects on body and soul. The king and his queen, as well as all the vassals in the court, were immediately delighted. Kilian and his brothers were allowed to establish the production of Aqua Vitae in Würzburg and to use the potion to convince the pagan citizens of Christianity. High but also common people appreciated this new medicine for external but especially for internal use.

The legend of the creation of St. Kilian Whisky in Rüdenau

On their missionary journeys throughout Franconia, the monks also came to Rüdenau, the present location of our distillery. There they mixed their drink with the water of the Ottilienbrunnen, a healing spring where water gods had been worshipped long before, in the times of the Romans who guarded the Limes there. What later developed there exactly is today a Legend: St. Kilian Whisky. How the three monks became martyrs in the end, and why they are still revered as apostles throughout Franconia, can be read in a booklet that is available in our shop in Rüdenau.

Three men - one mission

More than a thousand years later, three men again came together on a mission, with "aqua vitae" close to their hearts. By aging in barrels, the art of whiskey production in Germany has been advanced to date by distillers on domestic stills. But it takes copper pot stills and washbacks made of fine woods to produce a complex single malt whisky using the original process from today's Scotland and Ireland. Our founder Andreas Thümmler, a successful technology investment banker and passionate whisky collector, together with David F. Hynes, the Irish whisky legend from Dublin, had the idea and the plan in 2012 to establish the largest whisky distillery in Germany in the beautiful Odenwald near Miltenberg on the Main. They were joined by brewmaster and master distiller Mario Rudolf from Amorbach.

The first "Spirit of St. Kilian" and many more Signature Editions

The three men put the plan into action and after four years of construction, the first Spirit of St. Kilian flowed from the distillery's two 6,000-liter Forsyth copper stills in the tranquil whisky village of Rüdenau in 2016. In May 2019, the team presented its first three-year-old single malt whisky, the "First Kilian". From now on, St. Kilian sets new quality standards in the production of "Whisky made in Germany" with its Small Batch Signature Editions. Our name "St. Kilian" is dedicated to the monk from Ireland and his brothers, who already more than 1000 years before impressed and convinced us Germanic people of the miraculous qualities of Aqua Vitae. Exactly this is still our "mission".

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