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08 Apr. 2016
Alexander Stein & Christoph Keller

Mythbusters: Gin=Juniper

The dumbest thing that anyone can say about gin is certainly the following: Gin should taste like juniper, and nothing else. (And sad to say, we have indeed heard this nonsense very often!) This is certainly NOT the case. Rather, it is a widespread assumption that is simply false. Distilled...

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Alexander Stein 24 Mar. 2016
Alexander Stein

Open-Heart Surgery – The Test Phase

It is true that with regard to our sensory preferences, we were in agreement, but the joy I felt after arriving at this harmonious state lasted only until Christoph showed me the paradigm that he had developed specially for our project, which in its complexity fit in perfectly with the rest of...

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Christoph Keller 11 Mar. 2016
Christoph Keller

The Final Countdown: So Many Contenders, Just One Prize

After a series of morning tasting orgies, Alexander showed up nearly every time at the distillery armed with a sensory “ranking list.” We subjected our distillates to further tests, and analyzed the results, and argued, often continuing on late into the night. Having at this point by necessity...

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26 Feb. 2016
Alexander Stein & Christoph Keller

Mythbusters: Neutral Spirits Have No Flavor

Alcohol is an essential and important component in every gin, in addition to water and a number of plant-based ingredients and spices -- or so it should be. And so it is shocking to discover that many experts on gin who have no experience producing this spirit continue to propagate the...

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Christoph Keller 12 Feb. 2016
Christoph Keller

The Alcohol Problem, Chapter III

It was news to me, and I could hardly believe it: neutral spirits are, quite simply, not neutral, and the joyful expression on my partner's face confirmed it. Alexander had indeed been right when he brought in a neutral spirit (ethanol) made from molasses for us to sample in our private...

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Alexander Stein 29 Jan. 2016
Alexander Stein

The Alcohol Problem, Chapter II

An essential element in our business partnership, the glue, so to speak, that holds two people as different as Christoph and myself together, consists in “being right!” And thus I recall with great pleasure and satisfaction how we settled on a neutral spirit for our gin. During the development...

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Alexander Stein 15 Jan. 2016
Alexander Stein

We decipher the Black Forest DNA code!

Let's imagine we're back in the late 1950s in the Black Forest. We find ourselves in a valley in the Black Forest, just about right in the middle, in the region around the town of Freudenstadt, far away from the big highways and the already halfway-rebuilt big cities that had been bombed-out,...

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Alexander Stein 08 Jan. 2016
Alexander Stein

Alcohol Problems, Chapter I

Uh-huh. Right. “Aroma paradise,” “distiller's heaven,” “Middle Eastern bazaar,” – looking back, it all sounds so very nice (personally, I actually think all of that rapture sounds like a cross between a Rosamunde Pilcher romance novel and a really kitschy Bollywood movie!), and I can imagine...

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Christoph Keller 18 Dec. 2015
Christoph Keller

Tasting, testing, and more tasting...

In order to meet the standards that we had set for ourselves, we had to slog our way through many test distillations, with hundreds of rejected combinations of a number of exotic ingredients, in addition to many from the Black Forest, and some ingredients traditionally used in the making of...

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Alexander Stein 11 Dec. 2015
Alexander Stein

A Gin from Germany?

When we settled on a classification for our gin we made a deliberate choice. We did not merely intend to produce one more dry gin just like any other, not in the least. What we were aiming for was something I called “Schwarzwald Dry Gin.” This was not envisioned as an official classification,...

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Christoph Keller 04 Dec. 2015
Christoph Keller

Wrestling with Complexity

Back to the production jungle. The underbrush becomes even more impassable when you consider the number of ingredients that are added to contemporary gins. Back when we got started, in 2008, there were about 150 various botanicals that were being added to the gins then being produced. Today...

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Alexander Stein 27 Nov. 2015
Alexander Stein

Mythbusters: London Dry Gin Comes from London

Yes, that's the way it is – and real soccer, I mean, football, is only to be found in England. We have already described above the legally mandated standards  with respect to gin. On top of that, there is no real reason in and of itself that good gin should come only from England or London....

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Alexander Stein 20 Nov. 2015
Alexander Stein

Gincyclopedia: Gin Isn't Gin – A Primer on Classifications

Before we get started, it's important to understand that there's more than one kind of gin. Over the centuries, several different styles have been developed, including Old Tom, Plymouth, and London Dry, and lawmakers in the EU have imposed a system of classification that provides a legal...

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Christoph Keller 13 Nov. 2015
Christoph Keller

Welcome to the Jungle

For some time afterward at the Stählemühle we referred to Alexander as “King Louis” – this was a reference to the king of the band of monkeys in “The Jungle Book,” by Rudyard Kipling. Alexander was simply the man with the monkey gin from the Black Forest. This characterization of him was not...

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Alexander Stein 06 Nov. 2015
Alexander Stein

Throw the Monkey a Sugar Cube

Nonetheless, we had not yet come to an agreement as to how, or even whether we would work together. But that question, too, would be quickly settled – once again, due to a coincidence. Christoph had brought me a gift of lingonberry brandy, announcing as he placed it on the table, “Here's the...

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Alexander Stein 30 Oct. 2015
Alexander Stein

Systemic Importance

I have to admit that this was absolutely not the way I had imagined things. Back then, I had just left Nokia, a huge company. If a decision was made there to develop a new product, the whole thing happened lickety-split, and within a few months, we had a new telephone model, ready to ship out to...

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Christoph Keller 23 Oct. 2015
Christoph Keller

A Momentous Phonecall

And so it was that in November, 2008, I received a telephone call that set in motion a chain of events. On the line was a Herr Stein, who introduced himself and made a timid request – could he please pay a visit to me one day at the Stählemühle distillery, and perhaps tell me about an idea of...

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Christoph Keller 16 Oct. 2015
Christoph Keller

The Monkey Man

Alexander Stein had just returned with his family from the USA, bearing with him the idea for a gin from the Black Forest that would be based on a historical gin from the area. 
At the age of 35, Alexander had already had a tremendously successful career as a top-level manager, and...

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Alexander Stein 14 Sep. 2015
Alexander Stein

The Hairy Bandit down by Lake Constance

I grew up as the youngest of five children, which accounts for the laid-back approach, and even a certain degree of indulgence, that my parents adopted in raising me. In this I was lucky, because after my father had made many futile attempts to warn me about the risks associated with my plan to...

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Christoph Keller 07 Sep. 2015
Christoph Keller

How I became a Distiller of Schnapps

I never set out to be a schnapps distiller. That happened quite unexpectedly, and totally by chance.
As a young man, I made art books, and up until about 10 years ago, I knew practically nothing about distilling alcohol.
But sometimes in life, new paths open up ahead, and one needs...

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Alexander Stein 31 Aug. 2015
Alexander Stein

How I was kissed by the Monkey

I can remember the moment quite distinctly: I was sitting at my desk on a rainy day in Detroit, in the fall of 2006, when an old friend from Germany called me up and told me a story that would change my life in a fundamental way. This was, namely, the life story of the young officer and...

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24 Aug. 2015
Alexander Stein & Christoph Keller

A Personal Introduction

We really are not kidding when we explain over and over again that when we were, so to speak, “kissed by the Monkey” about six years ago, we didn't want to create a “brand,” but rather, just a really good gin. We set out to produce aromas, not alcohol. For that reason, we shouldn't be mistaken...

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