Berliner Brandstifter gin features handpicked botanicals that produce only 9,999 bottles per year.
Price: ~ £41
The man behind Berliner Brandstifter and native of Berlin is Vincent Honrodt, but that is not where the tale of the brand truly begins. Back in the 1930s, Vincent’s great-grandfather Ernst Honrodt, director of the Vossberg sugar factory, began distilling fine spirits near Berlin from local grains and sugar cane. It was tales of these creations and the parties that took place on the factory premises, including his grandmother’s wedding, and from memories of his grandfather’s artful achievements that Vincent was inspired to follow in their footsteps and carry on the unofficial family tradition by making his own spirits.
Made from a wheat base, the gin goes through a process of 7fold filtration, and the botanicals are cultivated on Berliner Brandstifters very own field by Christian Heymann of Speisegut farm in Berlin.
The bottle is a thick flask shape with a white screw cap and white labels. It is functional, showing little to no interest in design with the exception of the name embossed up the left-hand side. The main label wraps around the right side from front to back and covers about half the face. On the front is the name of the gin, and the back gives a description of the process and profile of the gin. My bottle was actually bought from Germany, so I can’t say for sure whether imports are different, but the text is in German. Around the bottom is a thinner label with the handwritten batch and bottle numbers, and a few of the botanicals (again in German), and on the back is the address of the distillery. There is genuinely nothing else to it; as I’ve said, it’s functional.
A deep, fruity, floral aroma fills the glass, heavy and languid. It’s almost reminiscent of a very sweet white wine, or a desert wine such is the viscocity of the smell. Grape, apple, and orange-like notes are prominent, but not explicit. It’s a lovely, yet elusive aroma. Familiar, but with the perfect description just out of reach. It’s certainly inviting, but not a classic gin profile.
Neat it’s wonderfully smooth and soft, but not as heavy as the aroma suggests. Juniper is present but subtle, adding a dry pine element to the background. Up front for me though are more of those fruity flavours I was getting on the nose, with a sweet, orangey-grape-like taste, but it’s almost like there’s a hint of caramel or butterscotch mixed in. It has that sensation on the tongue of a caramel sweet, but the flavour is strongly fruity and floral. It’s very interesting and while not a classic gin, it’s very nice.
With water, the gin rather amazingly becomes even more sweet, and there is no dilution of flavour at all. I would say it is possibly less gin like, but in terms of the flavours it does have, it’s even better. The sweet, fruity florals really come alive, though they are no less difficult to describe!
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Mallorcan Tonic with rose petals to garnish). The result is very pleasant indeed, albeit a touch subtle compared to other gins. I picked the Mallorcan tonic as it’s a lighter style which I thought would compliment the sweet fruity floral elements of the gin. It’s very refreshing, but with a pleasant bite from the quinine, and nice hints of bitterness. It’s definitely more of a summer sipper (the gin is described as “like taking a wonderful walk on a careless summer day in the capital.”) and for me it is far from a classic gin, but it’s nice nonetheless.
Berliner Brandstifter is a difficult one for me. It’s very much a contemporary gin, which I am not at all averse to, but it is also a little less to my personal tastes. That said though, the quality of the spirit itself is impeccable, and I can very much see a number of things for people to love. It’s smooth, clean, and has a gorgeous flavour that almost defies description (at least as far as this blog is concerned!), with hazy, fruity notes for days. If you’re gin-curious this is a pretty safe bet, you may be like me and it won’t hit all the right spots, but I very much doubt there are many out here who still wouldn’t enjoy it.
Remove half a feather if you like bold, classic gins
Berliner Brandstifter is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.