German gins are seen as some of the best around, with Monkey 47 leading the way in how we can approach the category. With this, Skin gin has made a splash here in the UK since its launch by Martin Birk Jensen in March 2015, and its striking packaging and different ‘skins’ that can be produced have caused many a stir in the right direction. But what about the liquid itself?
Produced in the ‘Altes Land’ (which translates as ‘Old Country’), just outside the German city of Hamburg, seven botanicals are chosen to enhance Skin gin; unique Moroccan Mint, citrus peels of orange, pink grapefruit, lime and lemon, juniper and Vietnamese coriander. Each botanical is individually distilled on a wheat based neutral spirit in a ‘Anisateur’ within an old copper still, in order to obtain close to 100% of the essential oils they contain. The essences are then blended by hand and bottled.
So how does it fare? Well, below I give to you my tasting notes –
Bold, fresh mint bursts through, followed by the pink grapefruit and the wax of lemons on the nose. Incredibly soft on the palate, with a slight menthol note flowing gently. Lime, the subtle hint of coriander, and the orange peels blend well for a long, fresh finish.
An incredibly fresh gin to enjoy, and one that would stand up well within a classic gin and tonic;
I think it’s safe to say, Jägermeister has become Germany’s most famous drinks export. But other than its consumption within energy drinks, I’ve been looking forward to actually understand Jagermeister, and how it became one of the biggest brand calls the bar scene has ever seen.
So, here goes.
Jägermeister can trace its way back to 1878 and a gentleman named Wilhelm Mast, who founded a wine-vinegar business in his home town of Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony. The business is successful, and his son Curt Mast, comes on board, yet decides to turn the company into a different direction.
Curt showed great talent in the preparation and mixture of herbs, and in 1934, after many years of experiments, he developed a recipe that would become the profile we see of Jägermeister. Curt Mast dedicated his new recipe to all hunters and their honourable traditions. A toast of which every hunt would begin and end due to the spirits combination of only natural ingredients and pure alcohol. It’s with this that the stag would be become the figurehead to Jägermeister. However, it’s not just any stag to emblazon each bottle, but it’s said to be the stag that appeared to a wild hunter and converted him to Christianity. The same hunter who later became the patron saint of all hunters: Saint Hubertus.
The bottle itself is durable, with Curt tried and testing a variety from great heights to make sure the bottle was reliable in transporting his recipe across Germany. He also instructed that the doors to the “Kräuterkellerei”, where Jägermeister is produced, are only open to the 56 secret exotic herbs, blossoms, roots, and fruits, delivered here in sacks from across the world.
After selecting raw materials that are of high-quality for Jägermeister, their master distillers then carefully weigh them as specified in the original traditional recipe. They will then prepare several different dry mixtures of herbs. These are then gently extracted by cold maceration in a process that can take several weeks. Once complete, the master distiller will blend the macerates together and transfer them to one of 445 oak barrels within the cellar at Kräuterkellerei, themselves hewn from wood grown in the local forests of the ‘Pfalzerwald’.
But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Fresh orange peel and cinnamon come through on the nose, with a bold richness of allspice and cardamom present. Light, fresh notes of anise present on the palate first, with the rich, bold notes of burnt sugar, toffee, roasted coffee and tobacco leaf coming together. A lingering finish of sweet oak, raisin and orange peel.
Jägermeister Manifest – 38%
Pipped as the ‘world’s first’ super-premium herbal liqueur, Manifest is based on the brand’s original recipe of 56 herbs, roots and spices, but contains additional botanicals and is made using five macerates rather than four, whilst also being double-barrelled matured in both small and large oak casks for more than one year to intensify the flavour.
Light honey notes upon the nose, with a subtle sweet caramel profile sneaking through. A thin texture on the palate that warms up to an anise led profile of honey, raisin, cinnamon stick, clove and ginger. A lingering lick of spice on the finish.
Two fantastic herbal liqueurs, and would be enjoyed chilled or over ice for many years to come. However, this did catch my eye;
50 ml Jägermeister,
Top with Ginger Beer
Squeeze of fresh lime
Garnish with a slice of cucumber
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!
There’s more to Valentine’s Day than champagne and roses and Belsazar Vermouth have released a limited edition 2010 Vintage Rosé vermouth which will please epicureans, trend followers and purveyors of luxury. The First vermouth of it’s kind, only 2,000 of which have been released worldwide, this handsome bottle will make unique and unconventional gift for loved ones to savour on the special day.
Full bodied, with a fruity taste and spicy bitter note, this is the perfect present for discerning drinkers. The vermouth conjures aromas of raspberry, bitter almond, honey and fine marzipan on the palate and nose. It’s delicious drunk on it’s own over ice, or mixed to create a Martinez cocktail, a twist on the classic Martini which provides a sophisticated and sensory sip. A versatile ingredient, it can be a delicious digestif after a home cooked meal or aperitif ahead of a restaurant reservation.
Paving the way for high quality and innovative vermouth, Belsazar ensure only the best wine is used in the production process and work with award winning bio-dynamic producers in the Black Forest, Germany. The Vintage Rosé is made from rosé wine created fromPinot Noir grapes, which is then aged for 5 years, a rarity in the wineworld. The vermouth is expertly blended with a secret selection of botanicals and small-batch Schladerer fruit brandies that work harmoniously together. The vermouth is then further aged for months to enhance the complex flavours.
Continuing to shake up the vermouth category, the Vintage Rosé joins Belsazar’s range of exquisite vermouth which includes four other variants: Rosé, Dry, Red and White.
RRP £36.50- £40 for a 75cl bottle. Available from the Whisky Exchange, Gerry’s and Master of Malt. ABV 19.5%.
To celebrate the release of the new James Bond film ‘Spectre’, how about a recipe for a vermouth Martini that gives a nod to Bond’s favourite drink, but is delicately stirred to enhance the subtle flavours of Belsazar.
Made with Belsazar Dry, the Martini is enhanced with the fruity floral take and finished with bitter aromatics.
Classic Martini recipe:
40 ml Belsazar Dry
40 ml Tanqueray 10
1 dash orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
In celebration of Germany’s best-loved festival, Oktoberfest and the capital’s biggest cocktail party, London Cocktail Week, superb sausage suppliers Herman ze German have joined forces with Elephant Gin and The Candlelight Club, creating a pop-up German Cocktail bar in ze basement of their Charlotte Street Shop – ‘Willy’s’. Opening between the 5th – 14th October Willy’s will be uniquely focussing on purely German ingredients, spirits and wines, providing customers with a very different take on the cocktail sausage featuring a ‘Trans Euro Express’, the ‘Berliner’ or a ‘A Forest Black Mighty’. To find out more information head to facebook.com/hermanzegerman.
Onto ze cocktails… the cocktail menu is designed by award winning bartender, HerrChris Lacey, formerly of Rules (The Telegraph – Top 10 Bars) and The Connaught Bar (#11, World’s 50 Best Bars). Chris – responsible for making one of the ‘Top Five Martini’s In London’ (Metro) – has used his über impressive knowledge of premium spirits and combinations to create a menu fit for the most discerning cocktail drinker. What a super mensch! Alongside there will be a selection of still and sparkling German wines provided by connoisseurs Berry Bros & Rudd, who distribute to the finest London restaurants.
Willy’s will be open from October 5th – 14th serving cocktails from 4pm ’til midnight in ze basement bar of their Charlotte Street branch. Herman ze German have also worked with their brewery in the Black Forrest to create a very special take on the strong and tasty Oktoberfest Bier with a very limited amount available across the month. Accompanying these fine refreshments will of course be Herman ze German’s mouth-watering food menu featuring the finest cuts from their home town whether the famous currywurst, the fone selection of gluten and lactose free wurst, ze brand new Schnitzel Burger menu and much more. Let’s fetz!
ze Cocktail Menu
Never Forget Martini Elephant Gin, Belsazar Dry Vermouth, Orange Bitters
Herman ze German’s dishes are made from the finest produce and ingredients, all wurst are gluten & lactose-free featuring the Bratwurst, Chilli Beef and Bockwurst from their award-winning butcher in the beautiful Black Forrest and the new ze Schnitzel Burger menu with meat sourced from Turner and George who deliver high quality rare breed meat. Not-only-this, Herman’s famous Currywurst and the new Vegetarian Wurst are also on the menu. All sausages are grilled to perfection served with toppings of choice including sauerkraut and delicious crispy onions. The food menu is paired with an extensive beer list featuring rare and exclusive brews from native Germany including Herman’s very own Market Brew, a unfiltered Kellerbier (4.8%) in Herman’s ze Basement Bar in Charlotte Street.
Bar Convent Berlin (BCB), one of the world’s premier trade fairs for the bar and beverage industry, today announces its ninth edition that will take place on October 6-7, 2015. An estimated 200 exhibitors will showcase about 500 brands to 10,000 attendees that are expected from 35 countries, including the U.S. BCB is held at Station Berlin, the iconic landmarked railway station. It provides an ideal backdrop for meetings between key industry players and newcomers, ranging from bar owners and bartenders to international manufacturers and distributors of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, equipment and bar accessories. This year, a nighttime Mixology Market event will kick off the show on October 5.
More Attendees, More Exhibitors and More Floor Space
BCB is growing and is adding new companies and an additional demonstration bar. Some 200 exhibitors and numerous brands representing the spirits, non-alcoholic beverages, beer, and bar accessories sectors have already booked their spaces several months ahead of the show.
“We’re very confident that this year’s trade fair will once again grow by leaps and bounds,” says Jens Hasenbein, Managing Director, BCB. “As in the past, we’re focused on two aspects: matching up the right companies with the right target groups and offering a top-notch program of tastings, lectures and seminars. Our selection of exhibiting companies provides our show with a distinctive profile within the premium segment.”
In order to meet growing demand, the BCB team is implementing an expansion into a new hall. Hall 8 will feature two tasting forums and a “Made in GSA” area. Presented in cooperation with the magazine Mixology, the space will be dedicated to products from Germany, Switzerland and Austria and offer samples of more than 60 spirits, liqueurs, bitters and soft drinks. The cocktail creation that wins the “Made in GSA” competition will also be featured here. In addition, the expansion into Hall 8 will give Brew Berlin room to spread out. BCB’s beer area will get its own space in Hall 3 this year.
Europe’s Trade Fair for the Bar Business
About 10,000 trade visitors are expected to attend BCB, including top international bartenders. Last year, 26 percent of trade fair visitors were bartenders, 16 percent bar owners and 9 percent bar operators and managers. The beverage and spirits industry also made a strong showing with 20 percent. Nearly half of visitors said they were focused primarily on new products, while another 21 percent were looking for new business contacts and 16 percent were most interested in onsite seminars and workshops. For a quarter of the visitors, the most important reason to come to the event, which brings together all the key industry players, was to network.
Global Industry Gathering Place; A Focus on Brazil in 2015
After Mexico, Poland, Peru and the U.S., the ninth BCB will be devoted to yet another major beverage nation. This year’s guest country will be Brazil. For visitors, this means an up-close look at the enormously varied uses of the popular spirit, Cachaça, as well as additional beverages from the rising, resource-rich country. In addition, former guest countries, Peru and the U.S., will return.
“Internationality begets quality. That’s why we care so deeply about bringing even more nations to BCB,” says Petra Lassahn, Event Director, Reed Exhibitions, who now works alongside Hasenbein to manage BCB. “Exhibitors get an opportunity here to present their products to international markets and visitors get to discover new products from around the world.”
More than half of the approximately 9,400 trade visitors last year traveled to BCB from outside Germany, including the U.S., the U.K., Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Finland, the Czech Republic and Denmark.
About Bar Convent Berlin (BCB)
Since its founding in 2007, Bar Convent Berlin (BCB) has emerged as one of the leading international trade fairs for the bar and beverage industry. Every year, a who’s who of the German and European bar and beverage industry meet in Berlin for two days to establish new contacts, catch up on the latest product innovations and attend educational seminars. Launched in 2013, Brew Berlin adds a beer-in-bars platform to BCB. BCB was created by bar and beverage experts Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser and Helmut Adam. Reed Exhibitions, a leading international trade fair organizer, came on board in 2015. The trade fair will take place at Station Berlin on October 6-7, 2015. About 10,000 trade visitors are expected to attend. For more information, please visit http://www.barcovent.com.
The gentleman at And Union have launched an Indian Pale Ale expression named Friday.
Brewed over a 10 week period, it’s said to be their first take on the American style IPA and joins the existing And Union range of unfiltered biers and IPA’s that are brewed in Bavaria.
But who are they actually?
Back in 2007, the trio of a father, his son and a longtime friend worked on a project to create craft lager and ales, collaborating with four small family owned Bavarian breweries, one being almost 500 years old and the youngest at only 90. Using only barley, yeast, hops and water, they create small batches that hone the aromas and flavours, something the more commercialised brands can fail on sometimes.
So how does their newest expression fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
And Union, Friday – 6.5%
Lots of ripe peach notes on the nose with plenty of deep barley and yeast aromas setting the smooth tone. A slight sharpness on the palate initially, but softens out to become a light aromatic peach flavour, wrapped with dry hopped notes and deep tropical fruit.
A tasty expression, one that is unfiltered and unpasteurized, whilst also adhering to the German purity laws (a vegan friendly IPA). Other expressions to look out for include Unflt Lager, Neu Blk, Beast of the Deep, Steph Weiss, Hand Werk and Sun Day. I’ll let your intrigued mind seek each out to find what styles they could all be.
Mixers, and premium ones at that, are becoming a force within the drinks industry as more and more spirits tie themselves to unique brands to show off a signature serve. The mixers alone are seen as more fashionable to order too, with Fentimans complimenting their mixer range with their soft drink expressions, and Fever Tree showing that tonic is not the only flavour to enjoy. Enter then Thomas Henry, a new range to hit the wider UK, with a German influence.
2010 saw Thomas Henry, the brand inspired by a company from Berlin, Germany, hit the market shelves with its classic bar sodas. Using their expertise in bitter lemonade, they came up with their own tonic water, bitter lemon, ginger ale and soda water expressions, before then branching out into elderflower tonic, cherry blossom tonic and ginger beer as the brand started to gain recognition.
Thomas Henry himself? The name may ring a bell if you are a chemistry lover as the chemist became the first person to ever enrich water with carbon dioxide back in Manchester, England in 1773, inventing what was the worlds first soda water. It’s with this that the Thomas Henry brand inspires the best ingredients no matter how it is to be used. Utilising natural mineral water from the Bad Meinberg springs in North Rhine-Westphalia that is then demineralized, it is said to give a natural yet high-end feel to each expression.
So how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Thomas Henry Tonic Water– 0%
Light aromas of the quinine come through, with subtle floral nips of the citrus following to give a fresh nose. Fine and refined with the bitterness from the quinine, with a very soft texture on the palate that offers a refreshing yet subtle aroma of citrus on the lingering finish.
Thomas Henry Elderflower Tonic – 0%
Arriving in 2011, this combines the flavour of elderflower and herbs with the base of the tonic water. Soft, sweet elderflower on the nose, with a slight bitterness catching the end. A little sharp to start, with the elderflower naturally dominating. Plenty of sweet flavours come through, with the bitterness underlining the long finish.
Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon– 0%
Soft notes of lime come through on the nose, with a balance of natural sweetness and fresh acidity following. Subtle lime notes on the palate, growing its aroma over time. An edge of the acidity draws a drier finish and hints of spice.
Thomas Henry Ginger Beer – 0%
Said to be the first ginger lemonade made and bottled in Germany based on the model of English “Ginger Beer”. Soft ginger on the nose, with lively sweetness following. Clean, fresh with a subtle kick of spice on the palate. Short, naturally sweet and a heavy texture.
Thomas Henry Ginger Ale– 0%
Light ginger notes on the nose with a lively spice kick following. Very light on the palate with subtle flavours of the ginger coming through. A thin texture shows off a fresh yet dry finish.
A great range of mixers here to be drunk chilled, or indeed as part of these –
20 ml Gin
20 ml Campari
20 ml Pink grapefruit juice
1 Bar Spoon sugar syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Thomas Henry Tonic Water
Pour all ingredients, except for the tonic water, over ice cubes into the glass and stir well. Add Thomas Henry Tonic Water and stir again. Garnish with an orange slice.
50 ml Lillet Rosé
Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon
Pour Lillet Rosé over ice cubes into glass and add Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon. Garnish with a pink grapefruit zest.
There are a couple of expressions I am yet to try, including the soda water and two from their ‘all day range’ named Mystic Mango and Ultimate Grapefruit, but if you are looking to throw together a couple of easy drinks, think about using a different kind of mixer to your usual brand, it may be the right call when you produce a more refreshing style of drink with your favourite spirit!
Last week saw myself attend the annual Nordic extravaganza, the Linie Awards 2015. The event is the culmination of the best that the Nordic countries have to offer from the world of food and drink, with respective competitions to find the number one dish and cocktail for the year. In its 10th year, 2015 saw it being held within Stockholm, Sweden for the first time, away from its usual seat in Norway as the main support comes from the Norwegian aquavit brand Linie, but this was to show the growth of the brand across Europe, and for the first time included Germany within its proceedings.
Held within Stockholm’s City Hall, the evening consisted of some of the best VIP’s, bartenders, chefs and journalists from across the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, as well as Germany attending, with a splash from the United Kingdom as my own country starts to take on the quite underrated category of aquavit.
The first finals of the evening saw each winner of their respective country heats go head-to-head behind the bar, aiming to create a signature serve that will highlight the Linie aquavit. Sondre T. Kasin from Morgenstierne in Oslo represented Norway with his creation Valkyrie, seeing a shaken mix of homemade quince puree, Linie that came infused with blackcurrant leaves and stems, green Chartreuse and Norwegian honey syrup, served over a large ice cube and graced with a blackcurrant branch. Jere Vihervaara of Son of a Punch in Helsinki represented Finland with his serve Hamask, seeing Linie mixed with egg, seasoned sour milk syrup, celery bitters and a sprig of rosemary, all served in a classic coupette glass and a burnt sugar cane and absinthe lit rosemary sprig.
Rolf Bender from the Oak Room in Norrebro in Denmark came to the final with a recipe he names The Scandinavian Flip, seeing fresh red currants, homemade red currant syrup, Pedro Xeminez Fernando de Castella sherry, Linie and egg come together with a garnish of freeze dried red currants. Moritz Billina of Falk’s Bar in Munich put together his Punainenmeri which saw cloudberry jelly, Belsazar dry vermouth, Manzanilla sherry and Linie shaken and served within a cocktail glass. This came garnished with a flick of Belsazar red vermouth for decoration.
It was to be Sweden though that took home the crown of the best cocktail of the evening, as Charlotta Berggren of Svartengrens in Stockholm impressed with her creation Linie in Sight. It saw Linie, punsch (a traditional liqueur in Sweden produced from arrack), lemon juice, carrot juice and sugar syrup combined and shaken, then served into a coupette glass.
A three course meal was entwined with the finals, which also saw Finland take the crown for the chefs via Taneli Myllyvirta of Restaurant OLO in Helsinki. On hand through the night were three expressions of Linie itself; the pre-journey, regular and double cask port expressions, going alongside last years winning recipe from Oskar K.J. Johansson with Kumminjanne.
Winning her first ever cocktail competition, Charlotta has said this has given her the confidence to branch out and contribute to other competitions in Sweden and become a force within the industry. I say good luck to her, and It will be interesting to see how the UK takes its palate to aquavit in the next year or two, especially when you have the likes of Monica Berg, bar manager of Pollen Street Social in London and Oslo native flying the flag here with her new Linie Honorary Award.