The history of Lanatun began when the brewer Jakob Baumberger returned to Langenthal from Munich in 1857. His father, Niklaus, was a farmer, pub landlord and brandy distiller, which led to Jakob founding a distillery on his father’s farm. His entrepreneurial spirit didn’t end there as he purchased the Mumenthaler-Marti brewery in Langenthal in 1863 and turned it into a flourishing business.

When Jakob Baumberger died in 1903, his son Hans Baumberger I took over the running of the business and he was subsequently followed by Hans Baumberger II in 1937. The company managed to weather the economic issues of the 1920’s however, with the outbreak of World War II the Swiss government banned the distillation of spirit made from grain and potatoes, thus making the distillery redundant. The company continued with its brewing enterprise and by the time of the company’s sale in 1983 it was by all accounts a very successful enterprise.

By 1999 the Swiss government had repealed the distilling ban, and this led Hans Baumberger III, the great grandson of Jakob Baumberger to consider distilling once again. At this time Hans had helped to establish the Hasli brewery (now called 49er Premium Beer) and he set up a single Holstein still in the corner and in 2005 began to create the Langatun spirit.

The first release of ‘Olde Deer’ came three years later and by 2011 the range had become well established in Switzerland. The continued growth of the brand meant that a move to a more suitable premises was in order and the one could argue that when they moved production to the 400 year old Kornhaus in Aarwangen, this was the point that Langatun ceased to be a brand and become a real distillery.

After several decades in the brewing and distilling business, Hans was looking to take a step back from the running of the business and probably do the things that many retirees do, spend time with the kids or escape them by heading to the nearest river for a spot of fishing, or knapping whilst dangling a bit of nylon in the stream! Anyway, by 2018 he had sold the business to Christian Lauper, Christoph Nyfeler, and the entrepreneur, inventor and ex-chemist Dr Dolf Stockhausen.

Currently the ‘core’ range consists of the Old Deer, which is produced from unpeated barley and aged in a combination of ex Chardonnay and Sherry casks, bottled at 46% and at cask strength. The Old Bear is produced from barley that is air malted with the addition of some peat smoke, which creates a smoky spirit which is then which is aged in ex-Chateauneuf-du-Pape casks. Again, this is bottled at both 46% and cask strength. Finally, there is a full on peated whisky called Old Crow, which is aged in ex-red wine casks.

From time to time, they release ‘special’ bottlings such as Winter Wedding, which is a skilful blend of the Old Deer and Old Bear whiskies, Jakobs Dram, which I aged in ex-Pinot Noir casks and the Cigar Malt, which aged in ex- Chardonnay and ex-Fino sherry casks. I have to say that it is the most balanced ‘Cigar’ whisky I have tasted.
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