The Top Five New German Gins
Which new German gins are worth a shot? MIXOLOGY asks renowend juniper fans and mixologists to clue us in on the latest in the world of gin from Deutschland.
One of the most popular liquors for centuries, gin has been around since the middle ages. The Juniper berry spirit, which was once used as medicine, has come a long way since its “Dutch courage” days. MIXOLOGY asks experts for their top five picks of new German gins.
Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin – Gin With a German Wine Twist
Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin’s name honors the Royal Prussian forester and vineyard co-founder, Ferdinand Geltz. The Riesling-infused Saar river dry gin is the proud receiver of accolades of many German liquor buffs. Distiller Andreas Vallendar and winemaker Dorothee Zilliken whose families both have a rich heritage in their respective crafts combine their knowledge to give this gin its well grounded in tradition, contemporary taste.
When asked to name his favorite new German gin, it comes as no surprise that Markus Blattner of Old Crow Bar in Zurich tells MIXOLOGY he loves Ferdinand’s. Christian Kern of the Saphire Martini Lounge in Berlin enjoys the gin’s use of Germany’s “world-known traditional handcraft of winemaking”. He and others appreciate its “amazing nose, lightly sweet, smooth and soft taste, floral notes, hint of the freshness, and the acid of the Riesling grape”, in addition to its “well balanced botanicals”. The tall dark bottle whose light blue label bears a large vine-embellished “F” is a must for all gin enthusiasts.
The Duke Gin – Hops and Malt
Distilled by Maximilian Schauerte and Daniel Schönecker, Duke’s Munich Dry Gin is made up of untreated juniper berries, Bavarian hops and malt, and thirteen herbs and spices including ginger and angelica root, lavender, coriander, and lemon peel. Max and Daniel’s distillery which was handcrafted by an old Swabian coppersmith was acquired piece by piece due to its cost. There the gin is twice distilled in copper kettles, two-times filtered, stored, and hand-bottled.
There is no doubt that Duke’s distillery which has been used as a training facility and alcohol “think tank” since 2011 shows a great deal of promise. Thomas Huhn of Le Trois Rois bar in Basle makes sure to keep the Munich gin on his 30-gin back board, praising its “high quality”. René Förster, creator of his own juniper-citrussy “Dresdner Gin,” is another admirer of the young gin. Duke recommends that its drinkers or “Dukes” enjoy the liquor neat or experiment with cocktails. For a superior gin and tonic experience try adding orange zest which compliments their handcrafted inebriant.
Monkey 47 – The Beast From the Black Forest
Monkey 47’s name comes from the story of Wing Commander Monty Collins of the Royal Air Force who after the end of the war allegedly became involved in the rebuilding of the Berlin zoo and later in honor of one of the zoo’s monkeys named his country guesthouse “The Wild Monkey”. It was there that he developed his Black Forest gin, whose recipe was found in a time capsule-like box labeled “Max the Monkey – Schwarzwald Dry Gin” at the turn of the century. To this day the gin’s dark brown bottle which bears a purple stamp-like label tells the tale of its history with a playful drawing of the monkey.
Monkey gin is made with forty-seven not so standard gin ingredients, partly harvested in the Black Forest region, including its “secret weapon”, lingonberries, before it is matured in traditional earthenware vessels. Modern Master’s Torsten Spuhn and Christian Kern are two names of the growing group of admirers of this fledgling German intoxicant. Spuhn applauds its “complex flavor” while Kern tells MIXOLOGY its unique, strong taste make it a “great alternative for classic drinks as well as gin and tonics and an infinite source for new creations”.
Gin Sul – Germany Dreams of Portugal
If Hamburg and Portugal had a gin love-child, it would be Gin Sul, a simple and fresh variety made with botanicals and affectionately distilled in small batches. The citrus notes, owed to giant lemons from the Algarve and a Mediterranean flower famous for its fragrant leaves, make this gin special. Many including Christian Kern treasure the gin for its “floral and citrus aromas, hints of liquorice and vanilla and juniper background” which make it aromatic and smooth. Owner Stephan Garbe distills the gin slowly in a homeopathic capacity using 100 liter copper pots. The alcohol vapors rise through a spirit basket which is filled with lemon peel, rosemary sprigs, and rose petal.
Gin Sul’s website attempts to define the apparently untranslatable Portuguese word “Saudade”. It is described as a mixture of longing and nostalgic melancholy; something unattainable which is both beautiful and sad. For us non-Portuguese speakers sipping the gin whose white bottle, ship drawing and light blue writing conjure up the Portuguese coast, may be the closest we come to understanding the word.
Stauffenberg – Traditional Yet Modern
Lothar von Stauffenberg acquired his brewery and brandy distillery property in the mid 18th century but despite its age, the distillery has remained small. Stauffenberg Dry Gin is one of its newer products, while the distillery has a long history of producing fruit eau de vies. According to the distillery the gin is handcrafted in small batches of 180 bottles. Among the organic botanicals are coriander, lavender, cloves and fresh citrus. After bottling the dry gin is hand dipped in wax in order to seal its powerful aroma.
Christian Kern calls Stauffenberg “a new German gin experience” and well suited for drinking neat. The taste begins spicily and reverberates in the form of citrus and lavender giving the gin an aromatic complexity which makes it unique. The bottle’s classic shape has a sleek minimalist design and bears a prominent wax seal reflecting the modern yet traditional qualities of its taste.
These five budding gins offer a unique perspective on the classic liquor. Whether they have an exciting story to tell, are a hybrid of two places or ideas, or are doing something that has been done for centuries with newfound love and care, once sipped, their place as favorites of German liquor connoisseurs is palpable.
Foto: Destillerie via Monkey 47 Gin