GSN Review: Michelberger Herbal Schnaps

berlin-s-finest-booze-that-isn-t-beerNow this is something unusual.  A hotel in Berlin, Germany decided to make their own schnaps based on two recipes found in a distillery founded under the rule of Emperor Wilhelm I in 1874.  Tom Michelberger and Nadine May, owners of the Michelberger Hotel along with Gerald Schroff and Dr. Ulf Stahl rebuilt the Preussishe Spirituosen Manufaktur to its former self after several decades of decline in 2005.  It is the only working distillery in Berlin today.

The two schnaps, Michelberger Forest and Mountain are like night and day from each other.  Mountain contains anise, caraway, cardamom, coriander, fennel, lemon balm, peppermint, sage, and thyme along with other botanicals; while Forest includes more amaro-like ingredients such as gentian root, and vanilla.

The Michelberger Hotel’s website is a real trip.  You should check it out here.  Not only do they do a bang up job as a place to stay in Germany, but they have their own line of coconut water called “Fountain of Youth”, their own brand of shoes, and host a music festival every summer.  Pretty creative stuff.

Michelberger Mountain (90 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet, rich dark herbs penetrated by a high crisp juniper note.  Woodruff, sage and game bird spices.  Unusual and mysterious.
Taste: Not gin, not an herbal liqueur, this is like a hybrid of the two.  Unique, somewhat medicinal and yet quite quaffable.  There is no bitterness, just a peppery, gin-like herbality quite unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.
Finish: Medium length with lingering sweetness.  Notes of cucumber and green pepper come through at the end.
Overall: This recipe actually does taste like something from the 19th century.  Almost tonic-like and the kind of thing you might drink after a large meal.
GSN Rating: B+

Michelberger Forest (70 proof)
Visual: Yellow-gold.
Nose: Sweet, heathery, clover honey, sugared orange peel, vanilla bean.
Taste: Sweet, with a light herbal/citrus fruit profile.  The herbs keep things from going too much in a liqueur direction and make this more of a sweet ready-to-go cocktail.
Finish: Sweet, with the fruit and herbs playing tag back and forth.
Overall: Try stirring this with ice and then straining into a chilled cocktail glass.  It is light, elegant and very old school.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Michelberger Booze

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