Owner of “King & Mouse” whisky bar/shop
LITTLE SCOTCH IN VILNIUS
King and Mouse is the realized dream of Šarūnas Karalius, the man who some say brought whiskey to Lithuania, and they may be right. Just a few years ago, the idea of drinking scotch was unheard of outside exclusive clubs, or it was relegated to the well-to-do. But all this changed in 2010 when Šarūnas opened his first bar in Kaunas. Just three years later, quality whiskey has gone mainstream, with a good selection available at liquor stores and scotch-tastings and classes being held around town. In the following interview, Šarūnas told us just how this transformation took place:
How would you describe your business?
Our whisky complex is located on one of the shortest and coziest streets in Old Town. The historic walls of our building can tell countless stories, including one about a visit from Napoleon and his army in 1812, but today they overlook one of the finest bars in Vilnius. We offer patrons a selection of over 300 kinds of whisky and serve up whisky-inspired snacks and dishes.
Why whisky? Isn’t Lithuania a vodka country?
We opened Lithuania’s very first whisky bar in our hometown, Kaunas, in 2010 because we wanted to share our passion for this wonderful drink. It has an enormous range in smell and taste, has a long history, and was then little-known in our country. After a year and a half of hard work, we realized that not only had we created a community of whisky lovers, but we had also made a positive impact on the country-wide popularity of the spirit. Spurred by the success of our Kaunas venture, we opened King & Mouse in Vilnius.
Scotch is often considered to be the drink of the elite. Is this true?
We never wanted to be an exclusive whisky club with select clientele. All are welcome, from novice drinkers to whisky connoisseurs looking for a particular style, brand, or vintage. Our staff is well-trained and knowledgeable, and everyone will find what they’re looking for on our menu.
Does the Lithuanian market present any challenges?
Just having a whisky business in Lithuania is a big challenge. It’s still a new niche, so we need to do a lot of tasting events and have patience, but after years of work we know we are heading in the right direction. Sales of whisky are skyrocketing, and people want to know what they have in their glasses. King & Mouse stands for quality over quantity, and we’re really happy people are realizing the advantage of this philosophy!
Love what you do, do it with integrity, and success will come.Šarūnas Karalius