Vincent Honrodt – Berlin Dry Gin
One of the first things that caught our eye with Berliner Brandstifter‘s Berlin Dry Gin was its choice of neutral branding. The gin bottle isn’t aimed at any one audience, despite the jam-sweet, floral flavour of the gin within. Many producers would have made the somewhat archaic decision to drive this product at a distinctly feminine market, but Berlin Dry Gin is modern in every sense of the word – it’s 2016, after all, and men like flowers too. We stole some time with founder Vincent Hondrodt to get some insider information on the gin, which is starting to gain some traction in the UK market.
For those of you who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Vincent and I am the founder of Berliner Brandstifter spirits. We started producing in 2009. Berliner Brandstifter is committed to the development and production of exceptionally fine distillates, which embody the spirit of Berlin.
You were inspired to start making alcohol after discovering your grandfather’s kornbrand. What were you doing before hand?
I studied at the University of Arts in Berlin and in Berkeley, California and I always liked to work with brands, creating brands etc. So in short I was working in the communication business before Berliner Brandstifter.
And why did you choose to make gin?
Well, as I mentioned we started with our grain spirit (Kornbrand) in 2009. Kornbrand is an old german tradition and we wanted to create a fine spirit, that is why it is filtered 7times. Also the NY Times awarded it as one of the best 15 products of Europe. After the Kornbrand was established we were thinking about what we can further do with it, so there was the idea to use the grain spirit as the basic spirit for the gin. The special thing when creating a gin is that you have a great toolbox because of the opportunity to use a variety of different botanicals. So you are able to create something unique and really special.
You place a real emphasis on provenance, growing your botanicals on a local farm. Locality is obviously important to local people, but how do you think this has helped you fair internationally?
Because our botanicals are grown on local farmland we have a fine control over the quality of the botanicals which is one reason for why the taste is so exceptionally good. Another plus is that we tried to find a unique combination of botanicals and blossoms which people haven’t tasted before.
To our palate, Berlin Dry Gin is a sweet gin with a bright red-berry tone and just the right amount of juniper. How did you come up with your recipe?
Actually, when we started creating gin we were distilling almost every flower and botanical that grows at our altitude. After trying different combinations for over a year we figured out that our current botanicals are the right ones for creating this nice composition of a sweet, flowery gin with a rather subtle taste of juniper.
At what point did you know you had achieved the right balance and that you had Berlin Dry Gin perfected?
We obviously collected several opinions with the help of our friends whom we gave taste samples before the production. But I was really sure that the right balance was achieved when retailers and bars gave us enormous good feedback.
Can you tell us a bit about your work with Nordberliner Behindertenwerkstätten?
The social component is a pretty important aspect of our work, in a way we feel responsible to integrate a social component to our products. The people at Nordberliner Behindertenwerkstätten take much responsibility and undertake lots of tasks: they are packing our products so they are ready for shipment, they laminate and label our bottles and other things. We are very happy to be working with them.
What do you feel have been the biggest achievements for Berliner Brandstifter in 2016?
One of the biggest achievements is that you are now able to purchase the gin in the motherland of gin – in the UK. We are more than happy about that. And another great achievement was the launch of our third Berliner Brandstifter spirit, the Berlin Vodka made of sugar beet. It is refined with blossoms and botanicals native to Berlin. This again is very unique and we get very good feedback from customers.
And what do you have lined up for next year, what can fans look forward to?
Actually we are very keen to work on different projects and we will be able to tell you a little bit more soon hopefully…
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