German efficiency is world-renowned within the engineering world, but the last few years has seen it up its game when dabbling into the wider world of spirits, including that of gin. Monkey 47 set the benchmark for the German style of gin, and Windspiel have decided to come across and raise it further, dabbling itself into the potato side of the spirit.
Friends Sandra Wimmeler, Denis Lönnendonker and Tobias Schwoll bought in 2008 the Weilerhof farm in Berlingen, itself within the Volcanic Eifel region of western Germany, where Tobias, with a background in agriculture and a desire to become a farmer, immediately took to tending to the land. The team initially grew Elephant Grass before moving onto potatoes and it was while feasting over the latter one evening, gin in hand, that they apparently hit upon the idea of making a spirit out of their growing supply.
With the likes of Chase Distillery proving that potatoes are a great base for a spirit, the resulting two years had the team craft and develop alongside master distiller Holger Bolchers, who creates the raw alcohol in his home town in Northern Germany.
But how is it all created?
The first step taken is the harvested potatoes by Tobias, which are then sent to Holger, who grinds them up and mixes them with drinking water. The mash (the alcohol producing mash, not the food) is then gently heated to trigger the conversion to sugar, then cooled and mixed with yeast to stimulate the conversion to alcohol. The resulting liquid is distilled twice in a large continuous still to raise the ABV and to purify the spirit. The neutral spirit is further finished in a small 150lt still to add a final dose of smoothness.
To create the gin itself, each botanical element (including juniper, lemon zest, coriander, lavender blossom, ginger and cinnamon) is added to the spirit separately and then distilled as individual components. After a few weeks of resting, the team blend these distillates together, before adding further spirit and cutting to bottling strength, producing around 800 bottles per run.
And the name itself? Here’s an extract from the Windspiel website to explain;
“. . . . . the four friends remembered a visit to a woman in the neighbouring village. At that time, they were new to the village and everyone wanted to know who these four newcomers were. Sandra, Denis, Rebecca and Tobias did not want to be impolite and were happy to take up her invitation. She told them plenty about the surrounding area, about old Mr Weiler who used to own the farm, and the later it got, the further back she went in German history. Eventually, when it was getting quite late, the lady began talking about King Frederick the Great of Prussia. According to her, he was supposed to have met Leopold Joseph Graf von Daun in 1757 and talked about the Eifel „Tartoffel“ or potato. Frederick the Great was very impressed. So impressed that he had the idea of conjuring up something special from this fine tuber – creating an exquisite liquor would have been the crowning achievement of his life‘s work. Unfortunately, it didn‘t turn out that way. As they thought about this story, the four friends simply had to laugh. But still, what if it were true? They wanted to establish the facts and researched everything they could find on Frederick the Great. The dog lover, Sandra, was particularly enthusiastic about his passion for greyhounds. He even wanted to be buried with them. Her enthusiasm was contagious and quickly spread to the others and this is how they linked one passion with another. They called their exquisite liquor: Windspiel Premium Dry Gin. Dedicated to Frederick the Great, who discovered the potato in Germany and his second great passion: the greyhound, or in German „Windspiel”.
So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Windspiel – 47%
Fresh, subtle notes of lemon, lavender and coriander upon the nose, following onto the palate nicely as it coasts alongside the smooth potato spirit. A slight earth note, with waxy lemon peel, juniper and bark, finishing with a lingering spice freshness.
A stunning gin to drink neat or over ice, and at 47% abv, can stand up to a simple gin and tonic;
Highly recommended for your drinks cabinet at home, both as a talking point amongst the gin category, and the base within its own branded gin and tonic!
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.