THE DUKE Gin – An honest gin
“THE DUKE is an honest gin.” That’s how the founders Max Schauerte and Daniel Schönecker expressed it in the early stages of the distillery and it stayed that way. What defines the DUKE is passion, persistence and simply love for the product.
But how exactly do the juniper berries get into the gin? Who peels the lemons and whose passion exactly is it that keeps THE DUKE Gin at a consistently high level? In other words, who is the distiller? To answer this question, we took a look behind the glass doors of the distillery and investigated.
Passion for distillation in focus
It's been almost ten years since Max and Daniel started working on the recipe for their own gin. It was always clear: passion instead of compulsion, the strenuous instead of the easy path, quality instead of quantity.
The two have managed to keep the focus on craftsmanship and, through organic growth, create a brand that is characterized by craftsmanship and attention to detail. A lot has changed at the distillery in almost ten years.
Not only the employees and machines, but also the production facility have changed and constantly developed. Where initially a few hands filled, labeled and packaged each bottle by hand, today modern machines help and make production much easier. The team has remained small and still feels like a family. The shared meals and after-work activities are just a few of the many examples of the solidarity within the THE DUKE team.
More about the origin story: Where from & where to
Distiller with heart and hand
But who exactly is behind the actual gin? Who will stick their nose into the nosing glass, test how far the distillation has progressed and smell the botanicals to ensure quality?
We find the answer in the most important room of the entire company - THE DUKE distillery itself. Warmed by the copper stills, a fruity-spicy aroma in the air, you will find our distiller, Georg Zwiehoff - also called “Magic”.
This is his kingdom. Together with trainee Andy he produces a complex but soft gin, THE DUKE Gin. Initially a production employee in the old THE DUKE distillery, Magic is also a newcomer to this craft and puts his heart and hand into it. In a short time he has developed into a reliable and innovative distiller. Always focused, with a love of detail and happy to work. He exudes two things above all: security and calm.
Experience from decades of distillation art
When Max and Daniel purchased their first professional still at the beginning of THE DUKE, the experienced master distiller Rainer Hoppe supported them and taught them both important steps. The decades of experience in the art of distillation and a wide variety of spirits that Mr. Hoppe has produced over his career as a master distiller are invaluable to every distiller. He not only trained Magic, but now also passes on his knowledge to Andreas Türler in our distillery. Even today, Max Schauerte, Mr. Hoppe, Magic, and Andy often sit together until late at night and passionately develop new products.
Distillation that goes through the stomach
In order to produce a distillate as complex as THE DUKE Gin, the distiller has to repeatedly test, smell and develop a feel for the matter. When is the right time to distill the macerate? Is the distillation advanced enough to use the distillate? When has the point come to stop distillation?
There is no fixed answer to these questions. No fixed guideline. With 13 organic ingredients that depend on the respective harvest, each individual distillation is slightly different. Finding the right composition every time and discovering the small deviations in order to maintain the incomparable character of the DUKE make this craft a highly sensitive matter and a true art.
The attention to detail
During each distillation, it is exciting to observe how each individual ingredient is carefully controlled, treated and used. The fresh juniper berries are crushed to preserve the maximum aroma during maceration. The lemons are peeled by hand to macerate only the fine essential oils from the zest. Other botanicals, such as ginger root and angelica root, are macerated when dried so as not to emphasize the bitter spice notes too much. These subtleties can only be learned through frequent repetition and the development of the sense of smell. Every gin and every distillate has its own character.
The possibilities of combining new creations from different botanicals are endless. It depends on the creativity and comprehensive understanding of the distiller to find a blend that has different levels.
Max and Daniel's recipe, THE DUKE Gin, is a mixture that has both fresh notes and bitter spices. A mixture that has a higher alcohol content, but at the same time remains soft and bursting with aroma. It is a gin that can be recognized and enjoyed straight as well as in a long drink or cocktail. In the end, it's not just about the recipe, but above all about the attention to detail and the feeling the distiller has when using it. If this is good, the result will also be good.