Windspiel Premium Dry Gin

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin

Late last year I met Susann from Windspiel Premium Dry gin who was visiting Melbourne as part of a German trade initiative. The beautiful details on the bottle caught my eye immediately, and I hoped that this was going to be matched by a quality spirit within. I wasn’t disappointed.

Windspiel Premium Dry gin was launched 2 years ago by four friends Sandra Wimmeler, Denis Lönnendonker, Rebecca Mertes, Tobias Schwoll and their master distiller Holger Borchers. Like Chase distillery in the UK, they are a paddock to bottle distillery, creating their spirit base from potatoes they grow themselves in the rich soil of the Volcanic Eifel region of Germany.

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Windspiel’s Holstein gin still.

What’s in a name?

German King Frederick II was responsible for introducing the potato to Germany as an agricultural crop. His passion for greyhounds, ‘windspiel’ in German, was the inspiration for the name of the gin, and it’s why there is a greyhound on the label!

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin and tonic

The botanicals

Juniper berries, lemon zest, coriander, lavender blossoms, ginger, cinnamon, plus a few other secret ingredients are macerated in alcohol to extract the most flavour. Each botanical is then distilled individually and stored for a few weeks, before being blended with the triple-distilled potato distillate.

The taste

Juniper is present on the nose and the palate, with lavender and cinnamon coming through towards the end. Hints of lemon were also detected.  Windspiel has a very smooth mouth-feel and is very sippable neat, considering its higher than standard 47% ABV. It has the balanced, lengthy finish you’d expect from a quality gin.

In order to create their perfect gin and tonic, Windspiel have developed their own tonic water and it complements the gin very well, making a subtle g & t, but a delicious one! The gin shone in a 2:1 ration dry martini (I used Dolin) where the earthier notes of the gin brought out the botanicals of the vermouth fantastically well. In the Windspiel negroni, the juniper was a little subdued, but overall it was a decent enough drink.

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin martini
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin negroni

Getting the base spirit right can be a headache for many distillers attempting to produce their own (which is why the majority choose to buy theirs in), but Windspiel have produced something very special and it’s a perfect canvas for their choice of botanicals. Unsurprisingly, Windspiel Premium Dry gin has won many awards including a Gold Medal at San Francisco World Spirits Competition. A highly recommended addition to any gin cupboard!

Country of origin: Germany

ABV: 47%

Price: Medium

Monkey 47

Monkey 47

When Monkey 47 first hit the shelves several years ago, there were many who just couldn’t fathom why there were so many botanicals. 47!

I wondered whether it was a gimmick, something to grab attention, and while it was certainly a talking point, would it be a guarantee of a good gin?

So, I sort of avoided it. I wasn’t sure it was for me, the die-hard juniper-junkie.

As time has passed and the gin craze shows no sign of abating, my puritanical views have come under fire a little (through some good-natured teasing by some of my bartender buddies) and I have learned to appreciate the contemporary and avant-garde gins available.

While celebrating a few exciting things happening at GQHQ, I decided to splurge and bought a bottle.

Monkey 47 is made in Germany, the Black Forest, to be precise and came about in one of most complicated ways.

Monty Collins was an RAF Wing Commander who was seconded to the Western part of Berlin in the late 40’s. After he left the service he moved to the Black Forest region as he wanted to learn how to make watches. When that didn’t work out he turned his hand to running a guest house. As the region is well-known for its fruit liqueurs, Monty decided to have a go at distilling and made Schwarzwald Dry Gin. The recipe was rediscovered about 40 years later and passed on to Alexander Stein one of the founders.

So where does the Monkey come from? During his time in Berlin, Monty sponsored an Egret Monkey named Max.

Monkey 47 Botanicals

Before you count them, there are not the full 47 listed here, there are several types of pepper that I’ve just listed as pepper.

But still, 47! The first 5 are all native to the Black Forest region. (FYI Lingonberries also appear in Hernö gin, and spruce is found in Pink Spruce gin).

  • angelica root
  • acacia flowers
  • bramble leaves
  • lingonberries
  • spruce
Monkey 47 botanicals
From l:r Dog rose, Lingonberries and Scarlet Beebalm

The others are: juniper berries, pepper, acacia, Sweet Flag (often used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg), almond, orange, blackberry, cardamom, cassia, chamomile, cinnamon, lemon verbena, cloves, coriander, cranberries, cubeb, dog rose, elderflower, ginger, Grains of Paradise, hawthorn berries, ambrette, Rose mallow or  rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus), honeysuckle, jasmine, Kaffir lime, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, licorice, Scarlet bee balm, nutmeg, orris, pimento, pomelo, rosehip, sage, and sloe.

You’ll notice the high volume of fruit and floral botanicals, but lots of spice too.

Aroma and tasting

As you’d expect Monkey 47 is highly aromatic. I noted citrus, floral and jam-like fragrances. On the palate it is very complex. Light citrus with stone fruit flavours and a warm lengthy finish with spice notes coming through. It’s a rich, full, smooth gin.

And if you were wondering if could I pick out all 47 botanicals? The answer is no.

However, I was amazed at the balance of the spirit that Christoph Keller, the master distiller, has achieved.

Drinking Monkey 47

Monkey 47 cocktails

As usual, we tried Monkey 47 in a G&T, a Negroni (1:1:1) and a Martini (3:1).

The Gin and tonic (we used Fevertree) was light and refreshing. We brough out the floral notes with a lavender garnish. In a Negroni, while a delicious drink,  it struggled to stand up to the Campari. I think I’d play with the ratios next time, or swap the Campari for Aperol. I made the martini dryer than I usually do to give the gin a chance. It was a lovely drink, but I did miss the little punch of juniper. Both Mr GQ and I think this is a great sipping gin.

If you like contemporary gins that are full of flavour, but not heavy on the juniper then Monkey 47 is a good choice. The higher than average price point is worth it for the quality.

Country of Origin: Germany

ABV: 47%

Price: High


Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin

Receiving a bottle of Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin was a little like Christmas! The bottle comes so beautifully wrapped I almost didn’t want to open it.

The Ferdinand part of the name refers to Ferdinand Geltz an historical figure and founder of a great German vineyard. Saar refers to a river that flows through France and Germany. It’s final 28km forms one of the most well-known wine-growing regions of the world and is where the semi-sweet Riesling used in Ferdinand’s Saar Gin originates.

A periodic table of botanicals accompanied the bottle. There are no fewer than 31, yes 31, botanicals used in the distillation of this gin. Aside from the usual suspects (juniper, cardamon, etc.) there is fennel, jasmine, sandalwood, nutmeg, elderflower, hops, citrus, rosehip, sloe, quince, pepper, ginger, eglantine (sweet briar), bergamot, chamomile, red vineyard peach and citrus thyme (I did wonder whether all of these might be overkill).

The gin is infused with Riesling, a fragrant white grape variety with a flowery, perfumed aroma, which is evident when opening the bottle. Highly aromatic on the nose, delicate pine notes from the juniper lead on to a more floral flavour with a hint of sweetness. I thought the flavours well-balanced, but Ferdinand’s Saar’s is a delicate gin that needs to be handled carefully!

When tasting in a G&T I opted for Fever-tree tonic, but would probably use their Mediterranean variant next time as I think it would work better. That said, it made a beautifully aromatic G&T that was appreciated by my taster!

For the dry martini I tried Ferdinand’s Saar Gin with four different vermouth; Noilly Prat, Dolin, Maidenii and Lillet Blanc. The best result came from 60ml gin, 30ml Noilly Prat, which felt offered a great balanced dry martini. Lillet Blanc came a close second, playing to the floral notes of the gin well.

This gin could so easily have turned into a terrible flavour-bomb, but the skillful distillers have created something beautifully unique.

Country of Origin: Germany

ABV: 44%

Price: Very High

(Note: I was sent this bottle complimentary bottle by the distributors. It has not affected my review)