Amrut’s biggest Swedish fan, Dennis Steckel talks about bottle hunts and secret clubs
What are the characteristics of the ultimate fan? I asked myself this question before meeting Sweden’s Dennis Steckel who visited Bengaluru last week. Is it knowing every detail of the thing you adore? Is it buying into its every aspect? Is it going to lengths of carving tattoos on your body in its honour? These being factors, Steckel is undoubtedly the greatest fan of Amrut’s single malt whiskies. Steckel is an employee of Ikea, living in Almhult, Sweden, and a junior league football coach. He also spends a lot of time and effort studying and acquiring Amrut malts – which means every single bottle of every variant which the 12-year-old company has produced to date.
This isn’t easy. The bottles, released in tiny allocations, disappear off European shelves faster than you can say ‘Slainte’, only to reappear at global auctions where they sell for hefty sums. But Steckel has tracked down and acquired every single bottle to add to his enviable personal collection of 140 Amrut malts stashed in his basement cellar — his ‘Amrut room’.
Safe to say then that Steckel is no ordinary fan. Take for instance the niche 33-member closed malt tasting club, Elme Uisge Academy that he runs. Steckel conducts regular whisky tastings on his own volition and expense, his biggest success being a rare 9-variant Amrut tasting for 66 people. (No wonder that his club has a long waiting list.) “Life is for enjoyment, and the club helps everyone appreciate and share their whisky experiences,” he says. A bigger achievement is his global Amrut Fever club, spoken about in whispers by the few privileged to become members – a mere 500 worldwide. “They’re the kind who’d travel 400 miles just to buy a bottle,” explains Steckel. His own collection includes some rare whiskies – some from Amrut’s humble beginnings in 2004; six bottles of Amrut Herald, bottled in the German island, Helgoland and impossible to source; three of Amrut Bengal Tiger; 13 of its latest hit expression, Amrut Spectrum, and five bottles of Amrut Everest. Heard of them? Few have.
Which is his favourite, I ask. “Hard to say,” he says. “Maybe Greedy Angels.” He has an incredible seven bottles of Amrut’s top expression, Greedy Angels – both 8- and 10-year-old variants. He opens them sparingly, savouring each sniff and sip. “I pour just 2cl, more to nose and taste than drink.” Any lingering doubts about whether Steckel fits the ‘greatest fan’ title disappears with one look at his forearm. Here sits a perfect tattoo of the Greedy Angels logo surrounded by his three children’s names.
So how does this devoted fan celebrate his visit to Bengaluru, the home of Amrut? With a special treat – a tasting of the yet-to-be-bottled Greedy Angels 12-year-old variant, straight from the barrel. A smile lights up his face as he sips his precious offering. “Pure enjoyment,” he says.