What did you do before creating Harz Distillers and your gins?
We have previously made other spirits, including absinthe and grappa. The knowledge of the distillation process of absinthe was very beneficial for other spirits distilled from botanicals. The awareness of sensory characteristics and properties of herbs, spices and fruits forms also the basis of a good gin.
What made you decide to create your gins, and what's the inspiration behind them?
We started distilling gin because we are passionate gin drinkers ourselves. After our gin was well received by friends and acquaintances, my nephew convinced me to start with a pure gin distillery. We definitely didn't want to make 'just another gin' or please everyone. For us, many of the gins on the market taste similar, much too tame and leave juniper missing. Our intension was to make a gin that meets our own taste, remains in memory, and touches all the senses.
Can you tell us more about your distillery and still?
Previously, we distilled on a pure copper still. But for gin, a copper still is only the second-best choice. That's why we compiled a special Gin-still consisting of stainless-steel elements from StillDragon. I like the modular concept and this made it possible to build a plant that is optimally adapted to the aroma extraction of botanicals. We use a 3-plate reflux distillation column and of course an aroma basket for the sensitive botanicals.
Can you tell us more about your distillation process and botanicals?
The secret of a good gin lies in the selection of the very best ingredients, which accounts for at least 80% of the quality. Of course, the recipe, distillation technique and maturation also play an important role, but with average ingredients you only get an average result. We therefore do not skimp on the botanicals and buy only the very best qualities. Incidentally, we attach great importance to the water we use. Due to our location on the edge of the Harz Mountains, we are gifted by nature with the softest and purest water directly from the mountain springs. As gin consists largely of water, good water makes a big difference.
When distilling, you just must take your time and take samples regularly. Also with gin you have to separate the preliminary heat and the after run. The fine art is to choose the right time to separate unwanted flavours and obtain the desired ones.
What have been the biggest challenges/achievements, or your favourite story so far?
We didn’t want to rely on the standard qualities of the wholesalers for the botanicals. The biggest challenge was to define the quality characteristics for each of our 20 botanicals and then to find a farmer who could reliably deliver the desired quality. For this we had to travel a lot, but the effort was worth it.
How would you describe your gins in a sentence?
Warm, deep and full of character.
What's your favourite way to drink your gin?
Straight or with Ginger Beer, … but actually it's the perfect gin for tonic.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!) / any favourites at the moment?
I'm not a big fan of New Western Gins but Hendrick's Gin remains unmatched.
What's next for you and your gin/distillery - any exciting plans?
We have more ideas than time. In any case, we will rely even more on local ingredients. We have a lot of wild herbs and wild fruits growing in the Harz Mountains, so we will definitely try out new combinations. We let ourselves be inspired by nature.
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Review: Our tasting notes and review of Harz Distillers' Hartingowe Gin.
Buy: Order direct from Hartingowe Gin.
Discover: Find out more in our German Gin Guide.