Distillers Blog
Species Rara Einspaltig | 02 Mar. 2017

Tales from the Black Forest - “Da Bach na”

Soggy Carnival Capers

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 wonderful custom that has become a real highlight of the Swabian-Alemannic carnival season. Each year, these madcap Schramberg daredevils – individually or in pairs – tremble with excitement as they rush down the course.

But now they don’t just sit there in a boring bathtub. The Da Bach na participants come up with some fantastic ideas to really catch the crowd’s attention. Only the first and last competitors appear in plain tubs (which were originally used for slaughtering purposes) as they hurtle “da Bach na”, which is local dialect for “down the stream.” Each team thinks up a motto, which remains a closely kept secret. They prefer to take a side swipe at local or national politics, but they also like to simply have a bit of fun. Previous creations have included rockets, horse-drawn carriages, even a South Sea island, which navigate the swirling 500-meter course including two rapids. These daring adventurers hope to cross the finishing line relatively dry, buoyed by the thousands of onlookers. But the crowd still likes to cheer whenever a participant capsizes. Carnival in Schramberg keeps the Olympic ideal alive: It’s the taking part that counts. A couple of local politicians have even dared to negotiate the course, to demonstrate that they remain in touch with the wider public. Television has also discovered the event. The popular soap opera “Die Fallers” has filmed at the da Bach na race on a number of occasions.

This fun “water sport” evolved from a crazy idea in 1936. During a somewhat “extended liquid brunch” (as the da Bach na competitors’ fraternity puts it), the gentlemen present decided that it might be good fun to ride down the enlarged Schiltach stream in bathtubs. Back then, not many of the Schramberg residents were big fans of carnival, but that was about to change. They extended an open invitation to take part in the Carnival Monday “da Bach na” race and staged it before people made their way to work at the Junghans clock factory. The locals were so taken by this wet and wonderful event that they finished work early and joined in the celebrations. The fact that the day before Shrove Tuesday is a holiday can be traced back to this story.

Today, onlookers come from all over. Stands are erected, primarily at the Rossgumpen bar, from where viewers hope to see the participants perform particularly artistic stunts. If one of them falls into the water, everyone shouts “Batschnass!” (soaked to the skin), and if the outcome is a positive one, they cry “Furztrocken!” (dry as a bone). Those that end up in the water swim to the finishing line. So far, they’ve all made it, and to ensure that this remains so, members of the local fire brigade stand in the 2–3°C water to help starters on their way.

There is a similar event in Matlock, England. Their bizarre race is called the “Boxing Day Raft Race”, in which imaginative homemade tubs and rafts venture down the River Derwent after Christmas each year. But it’s no real competition for Schramberg. The Brits have only been on board making monkeys of themselves since 1960, and although they’re an eccentric lot, they’re not as wacky as those in the Black Forest.


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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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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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...

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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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Prescriptions Einspaltig | 01 Aug. 2016

Sloe Gin Fizz

Hand-Picked Sloe Berries from the Black Forest Served in a Glass

Sloe Gin Fizz
© Jochen Hirschfeld

The difference between a Tom Collins and a Gin Fizz can be summed up using the following simple rule: one is stirred, while the other is shaken. To put it even more simply: The Gin Fizz is a sour topped up with just a splash of soda water, while a lot more soda water is added to the Tom Collins...

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