Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Though an ode to the humble potato doesn’t sound like the “origin” story of a particularly sexy product, the German makers behind Windspiel Premium Dry Gin have got this nailed, with an exemplary spirit, all wrapped up in a striking brown bottle.
Windspiel was formed when friends Sandra Wimmeler, Denis Lönnendonker and Tobias Schwoll decided to move forward on their dreams of self employment and create a company – and a product – that they would feel immense pride in.
In 2008, the trio bought the Weilerhof farm in western Germany, where Tobias, with a background in agriculture and a keen 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 hit upon the idea of making a spirit out of their supplies. With many others using potatoes as a base spirit to create gin (like William Chase), as well as the numerous high quality spud based vodkas on the market, there were plenty of precedents for inspiration too.
It took around two years for the team to develop their gin, during which they teamed up with master distiller Holger Bolchers, who creates the raw alcohol in his home town in Northern Germany. The first step in creating the spirit is taken when Tobias harvests the potatoes; they are then sent to Holger, who grinds them up and mixes them with drinking water. The mash (alcohol producing mash – it’s not dinner time yet) is then gently heated to trigger the conversion to sugar, then cooled and mixed with yeast to stimulate the conversion to alcohol.
This liquid is distilled twice in a large continuous still to raise the ABV and to purify the spirit in order to give it a smooth, mild profile. Once it has gone through this process, the (relatively) neutral spirit is further finished in a small 150lt still to add a final dose of smoothness.
To create the gin, each botanical element 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 a run
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin to taste…
To taste, a fruity juniper jumps to the fore, accompanied by a warm cinnamon and ginger spice. The citrus is zesty and sharp, given a nip by the high ABV of 47%. The flavour journey begins with a clear sweetness which is quickly shunted aside by the spiced botanicals. The longer the spirit remains in the mouth, the more piquant it feels and there is real warmth towards the back. The lavender lends a floral note that compliments the coriander seed yet manages to remain perfumed as opposed to soapy (quite an achievement given its potency), and while the flavours have a delicate air and the gin is smooth, there is no way they’d drown in a G&T.
Juniper holds throughout and is very much the lasting taste alongside the lavender, though it transforms from an initial fruity juniper to a green piney one. Windspiel suggest serving the gin with an orange zest garnish; this would work well to coax out the citrus, though we feel the hints of fruit at the beginning could be nicely accentuated by a handful of strawberries.
All said, this is a relatively traditional gin, and as such would hold its own in any number of classic cocktails. With such a creamy, smooth and luscious mouthfeel from the underlying potato base, it would make for a handsome Martini in particular.
Since inception, Windspiel has added another member to the team in the form of Rebecca Mertes, who heads up the marketing side of things. Further growth seems inevitable, with their gin already sold in many European countries – including the UK – and the team on the hunt for wider distribution.
We had a chance to speak to the Windspielers, as they call themselves, wherein Denis Lönnendonker discussed a standout moment in their journey:
“Two months after our launch, we were exhibiting at the Bar Convent Berlin in Germany. We had a very small booth and were quite late with booking and organising everything. So we travelled with our equipment and built up everything on our own. Our feet hurt so much in our new shoes and we were really exhausted already before the trade began. We thought as a new brand it would be great to make some contacts and thought we can start enjoying a glass of water until we looked up and saw that there was a huge queue in front of our booth. So we started making gin & tonics, explaining everything around our gin and we really made great contacts, saw people smiling when they enjoyed our gin & tonic. It was great and wonderful and really unexpected, but it was the moment when we knew that Windspiel will be loved and that we did the right thing.”
Windspiel, incidentally, translates to greyhound – a breed of dog which former King of Prussia Frederick the Great was very passionate about. Frederick brought potatoes to Germany, so it was only right that the gin should play some sort of tribute to him.
The dog features heavily on the bottle, with a neat, green tinted drawing of a greyhound taking up around a third of the label space. The label itself is made from high quality cream paper and the cork topper is bound to the bottle by blue rope, which is attached to a gold ring that sits on the neck.
It’s very, very premium looking indeed – there’s even a gold crown stamped onto the top of the lid and a navy blue and white label hanging from the gold ring, which reads ‘Fridericus Rex’ on one side and ‘getreu dem kartoffelbefehl’ on the other. ‘Fridericus Rex’ translates to ‘Frederick the Great’, and ‘getre dem karoffelbefehl’ gets entirely swept up in a spin cycle of translation and one that’s difficult to find a suitable British equivalent for, but comes out to mean – quite excellently – ‘true to the potato command’.
Other products on the roster include a limited barrel aged version, Windspiel Premium Dry Gin Reserve, as well as a complementary tonic and a vodka. Plans to extend the range are certainly in the works, but the team place quality as a measure above everything else – if they aren’t 100% in love with a product, it won’t make it to market.
As we have always maintained, though gin is a crowded category, there’s always room for a high quality spirit to enter the fray – especially one with a strong brand and an interesting backstory. This is exactly what Windspiel Dry Gin is and we’ve got faith that it will prop-up many a bar shelf before long. We’re also confident that their Dry Gin will go down very well with fans of a classic ginny profile – so seek it, grab a bottle out and let us what you thought of it!
For more information about Windspiel, visit their website: windspiel-manufaktur.com
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