The Swiss do life right. From the world’s finest watches and chocolate to luxurious ski resorts that turn to beautiful verdant valleys come late spring and a blossoming wine scene, it’s hard not to envy the Playground of Europe. Case in point, St Moritz, not only is it one of the world’s most iconic ski destinations, it also plays home to Orma, the world’s highest-altitude whisky distillery.
Located atop Corvatsch Peak, some 10,837 ft (3,303 m) above sea level, Orma has been producing rare whisky for the past 10 years. It is also Europe’s most eco-friendly, single malt, small-batch whisky.
Created by local distillers Pascal Mittner and Rinaldo Willy, Orma–which means “soul” in Romansh–is made using water from nearby springs and with Alpine aromas and local herbs like Swiss stone pine. Most of their whiskies are distilled on the peak and then aged and stored in cellars and monasteries across the valley, except for Corvatsch, whose 303 bottles are aged on the eponymous peak in wine barrels from Martin Donatsch from Malans in the ski station’s basement storage room.
Mittner and Willy met when they both were fighting cancer. “That changed our attitude to life, and especially the way we deal with our fellow humans,” Pascal previously explained to local magazine Engadin. To this day, they cherish three things: friendship, esteem and time. Time, because you cannot buy it with money. And because it is limited: no one knows how much they have, says Rinaldo. “When you have cancer, you realize that you have to live in the present and not the future,” he says. So today, every one of their whisky bottles carries the following words in flowing script: “The soul knows no time, but time gives the soul priceless moments.”
Corvatsch whisky was born from these moments as well. Several years ago, when they were celebrating Willy’s cancer recovery, the duo scaled Corvatsch and decided to make it an annual tradition and then a whisky.
Turns out, making whisky at high altitudes is also more sustainable. The higher altitude demands a lower boiling point, and for Orma that means less energy and heat usage.
Currently, Orma has 12 different whiskies on offer and every batch is a limited edition. Unfortunately, Orma doesn’t export, so you’ll either have to head up to Corvatsch Ski Station for a tasting at the distillery or Restaurant 3303, or head over to Kulm Country Club Bar for an Orma mule.
For more information, head over to Orma’s official website.