Distillers Blog
Species Rara | 09 Feb. 2017

Tales from the Black Forest - Hundeschlitten­rennen

The Call of the Wild

The dogs are wild with excitement. They bark frantically and strain nervously in their harnesses. Their ice blue eyes convey their unyielding determination to run... run... just run. Finally, the long-awaited call of the “musher” sounds out and the pack of huskies sprints off through the snow.

No other region in Europe has embraced the sport of sled dog racing like the southern Black Forest. Each year, major events held in Bernau and Todtnau attract participants from throughout the world. Over one weekend, around 1,000 dogs line up at the start to pull their mushers on sleds through the countryside at incredible speeds. It is fascinating how dogs and humans form a team intent on working together to fight for a cause. The races demand a lot from them. The musher is far from just an additional weight on the sled, but is very active for a large part of the race, pushing, running alongside, stabilizing, and helping to negotiate the grueling course. However, his main task is to brake the sled to stop it from sliding into the dogs and to ensure that they make steady progress. The musher doesn’t have any reins like on a team of horses. All he has is his vocal commands to steer the pack and give them the necessary encouragement. The dogs themselves are happy to keep on running. It’s often more of a challenge when the musher wants them to stop.

More than 300 mushers with 2,500 dogs took part in the 2003 world championships. And it isn’t even an ancient, traditional sport in the Black Forest. Just as Montgomery Collins from India combined British gin with Black Forest botanicals, it was individual visionaries who staged Germany’s first sled dog race in 1973. In 1975, the first race was held in Todtmoos, with 25 teams from Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. For a long time, these sports enthusiasts were generally ridiculed. Now, however, the races attract visitors from near and far, and for the communities of the southern Black Forest, they have become an important highlight of the tourism calendar.

The Black Forest races cannot be compared to the Alaskan Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which is held in March each year. In the Arctic, the teams have to traverse some 1,850 kilometers of icy wilderness more or less under their own steam. In the Black Forest, however, “sprint” races are held over courses of up to 30 kilometers. Here, participants are not exposed to any life-threatening hazards. Even for the “light” version of this extreme sport though, both man and dog need careful preparation to ensure that they are in peak condition. Naturally, the mushers depend a great deal on their teammates and can only successfully complete a race with a pack of fit dogs. Just to be on the safe side though, the animals undergo strict veterinary checks.

However, all of this preparation goes to waste if the weather doesn’t play ball because the snow conditions are always vital for a good race. For that reason, the plans consider two alternative dates – one in February and one in March – in case there is insufficient snow on the first date. In very mild winters, the sled dog race has to be canceled, but that just makes everyone all the more excited about the following year.


Einspaltig Ency. Botanica | 04 Apr. 2017

Elderberry - Sambucus

The subtle scent of the elder

The elderflower, a member of the Adoxaceae family, is perhaps best known in the form of the black elderberry. While people in northern Germany call it the...

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Monkey Business | 27 Mar. 2017

From the Island to the Bottle - Sicily

Volcano of Lemons

In February 2015, we set out for Sicily – more specifically for the foot of Mount Etna, Europe’s most powerful volcano. Guided by our local expert, Calogero, we visited an old plantation in the Cavagrande region, whose...

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Species Rara | 21 Mar. 2017

Tales from the Black Forest - Deep Down

The “Segen Gottes” Silver Mine

Hundreds of years ago, some areas of the Black Forest were full of holes like a Swiss cheese. Where families now go for pleasant walks or exhilarating bike rides, people toiled in mines for 800 years, bringing ores and rocks above ground in a surreal and dangerous world. The...

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Species Rara Einspaltig | 02 Mar. 2017

Tales from the Black Forest - “Da Bach na”

Soggy Carnival Capers

Ann-Kathrin Brantner

When Montgomery “Monty” Collins, the developer of Monkey 47, came to Berlin in 1949, the “Da Bach na” race in Schramberg was a traditional event that had long since been in full flow. The tub race down the Schiltach stream was first staged in 1936 and is a weird and...

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Natural Habitat Einspaltig | 21 Feb. 2017

Die Halbestadt

Falco, Punschkrapfen and the Prater – you’re thinking of Vienna, right?

Falco, Punschkrapfen and the Prater – you’re thinking of Vienna, right?
Good, because in future, Austria’s capital city should also make you think of Die Halbestadt: a jewel in the...

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Opus Magnum | 20 Dec. 2016

Welcome to "Wunderbar Adventures of Sophistication!"

Episode 5: Being German – BLACK FOREST

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Opus Magnum | 12 Oct. 2016

Monkey 47 Distiller`s Cut 2016

Abietes Melle

Driven by occupational curiosity, a love of sensory experimentation, and a pronounced penchant for unique aromas, Black Forest Distillers have set out on their search for species rara – the singular ingredient that goes into their annual Monkey 47 Distiller’s Cut – for six years running.

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Monkey Business Einspaltig | 26 Aug. 2016

The Monkey and His Simian Sidekicks

King Louie, Cheetah, Miss Baker, and Herr Nilsson

Upon making his move to the Black Forest – to the Schaberhof and the Wild Monkey distillery, to be precise – the Monkey began turning his surroundings into a picturesque new home. Primates are not all that different from people, after all, and relocating typically offers the opportunity to...

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Species Rara Einspaltig | 15 Aug. 2016

The Radhaube

High fashion from 19th-century Villingen

The Radhaube
© Sebastian Wehrle

The golden Radhaube – pictured here in all its splendour – is the result of up to 400 hours of sheer artisanal craftsmanship. Though it does require a great deal of endurance from the women who weave it, this traditional headwear serves to this day as a reminder of the good old days in southwest...

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Ency. Botanica | 08 Aug. 2016

Allspice - Pimenta Dioica

A plant from the New World

Allspice - Pimenta Dioica

Allspice refers to the berries of the evergreen pimenta dioica tree, a type of plant of the myrtle family, and is native to a group of islands in the Caribbean called the Antilles. This explains why allspice is also commonly called "Jamaica pepper". Discovered by the same explorer who...

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