20th anniversary of the SCA’s Red Williams pear schnaps ‘Rote Williams’ – a spirited success story

The Ski-Club Arlberg (SCA) Shop has lots to offer, both online and in the delightful little shop inside the Raiffeisen Bank in Lech. In addition to the famous ski club jumper, you can choose from all manner of practical and interesting products.

A very special cooperative success story currently celebrating its 20-year anniversary is the Ski-Club Arlberg schnaps ‘Rote Williams’. Schnaps-distilling legend Hans Reisetbauer had been a regular guest in Lech for many years when, on 17th February 1999, he was accepted into the illustrious Ski-Club Arlberg circle in the Achtele wine bar in Zug. Among those present were host Heinz Birk, Stefan Bischof and Robert Strolz. It was during this evening that the notion of creating a Ski-Club Arlberg schnaps was conceived. The schnaps should not only be unique, they decided; it should also reflect or harmonise with the ski club colours. Animated discussions followed and talk of possible suitable fruits. Suddenly a shout of, ‘I’ve got it!’ interrupted the lively debate. ‘I’ve got it! I’ve got the perfect idea!’ shouted Hans Reisetbauer. ‘We’ll use Red Williams pears; they’re smaller and juicier than normal Williams pears, subtler in flavour, more elegant, less punchy.’ And so the idea was born that very evening.

Back home, Hans Reisetbauer not only bought Red Williams pears; he even planted trees right away. He tested and experimented until the result was just as he wanted and, in 2002, the SCA-Schnaps went on sale. Presented in a slender bottle, the label of which unifies the Reisetbauer and ski club logos, the schnaps was a hit right from the word go – firstly, because it simply tasted good and secondly because Heinz Birk avidly and enthusiastically endorsed the exquisite spirit at every opportunity. The SCA-Lech executive committee, at that time under the leadership of chairman Robert Strolz and treasurer Stefan Bischof, likewise gave the schnaps their full support. And they always placed great importance on investing part of the proceeds in supporting the young SCA team.

In the meantime, the SCA-Schnaps has become an important brand ambassador for the ski club and indeed the entire Arlberg region. In 2015, Falstaff magazine awarded 100 out of a possible 100 points for the very first time and praised Reisetbauer’s ‘Rote Williams’ as the best brand in Austria, thus firmly cementing its legend status.

Today, a full side of Hans Reisetbauer’s rectangular farmyard in Axberg is devoted to a dedicated SCA orchard full of Red Williams pear trees ensuring a plentiful supply. Everyone should be able to partake of a glass of what is arguably Austria’s finest schnaps when enjoying a convivial celebration in the Arlberg region. And that was precisely the case in April 2022, when the 20-year-old success story was fittingly celebrated on the White Rabbit sun terrace of the Boutique Hotel Schmelzhof. The original protagonists – plus a few more – were present and in celebratory mood and a high-spirited party was enjoyed by all.

Incidentally, Hans Reisetbauer let us in on a secret: The schnaps from 2020, he claims, is almost better than the one from 2015. But is that even possible?

Impressions of the 20 years SCA schnaps event on the White Rabbit terrace:

Pictures: Valerie Marie Voithofer