While consumers might have balked at the idea of a “German gin” two decades ago, the past few years have seen the introduction of new products from Berlin, Munich and even the Black Forest - like Monkey 47.
For Vincent Honrodt—the founder of Berliner Brandstifter, which launched its own Berlin Dry Gin in 2013 — was a matter of choosing the right local ingredients.
Honrodt, who is not a distiller by training, but grew up with the local homemade spirits of his grandparents’ generation, started his company with the idea of producing an upmarket version of Kornbrand, a traditionally downmarket German spirit with a passing resemblance to vodka. The challenge with Kornbrand was to transform a product with a reputation for being cheap into something that would sit comfortably in a middle class liquor cabinet. The strategy—which involved a pleasingly minimal bottle design and an emphasis on high-quality local production—worked, and his Kornbrand sales started to grow.
From there, gin seemed the next logical step. His idea was to make a gin that drew heavily on botanicals native to Berlin. Although juniper would remain dominant, he began to experiment with different combinations of local wildflowers. One of the flowers he chose was Waldmeister, which, in syrup form, is well known to all Berliners as one the principal flavors of Berliner Weisse, a sweetened beer that remains popular throughout the city.
In addition to Waldmeister and juniper, Vincent included elderflower and fresh cucumber in the distillation. These botanicals give the Berlin Dry a floral and sweet taste.