Magic – Distiller with passion and long hair
„THE DUKE is an honest gin.“ That’s how the founders Maximilian von Pückler and Daniel Schönecker put it in the early days of the distillery, and that is how it has remained. What makes THE DUKE is passion, tenacity and quite simply lots of love for the product.
But how exactly do the juniper berries end up in the gin? Who peels the lemons and whose passion is it that keeps THE DUKE Gin at a constant high level of quality? In other words: Who is the Distiller? To answer this question, we took a look behind the glass doors of the distillery and asked around.
A passion for distilling is the focus
It has been nearly ten years since Max and Daniel started working on the recipe for their own gin. Some things were clear even then: Passion over compulsion, the strenuous way over the easy way, quality over quantity.
The two have managed to keep the focus on the craft itself. Through purely organic growth, they have created a brand that is characterised by craftsmanship and attention to detail. But a lot has also changed at the distillery over the past ten years.
Not only the employees and the machines have changed over time but also the production facility has constantly changed and developed. Where in the beginning a few people hand filled, labelled and packed each bottle, there are noow modern machines that help. Thus the entire process is made easier. The team itself has stayed small and still feels like a family. Shared meals and after work activities are only a few examples for how THE DUKE Team keeps up the team spirit.
You can find more on the story of THE DUKE here.
Distiller with hand and heart
But who exactly is behind the actual gin? Who sticks their nose into the nosing glass to test how far the distillation is? Who smells the botanicals to ensure the highest of quality?
The answer to these questions can be found in the most important room of the company – the THE DUKE Distillery itself. Warmed by the copper still, bubbling away with a fruity-spicy aroma in the air this is where you will find our distiller, Georg Zwiehoff – also known as “Magic”.
This is his realm. Together with apprentice Andy, he produces a complex but smooth gin here, THE DUKE Gin. Initially a production worker himself at the old THE DUKE distillery, Magic changed this career completely. He puts his heart and soul into his work. In a short time he has developed into a reliable and innovative distiller. Always concentrated, with a love for small detail, and always in a good mood. Above all he radiates two things: reliability and calmness.
Experience from decades of distillation
When Max and Daniel acquired their first professional still at the beginning of THE DUKE journey, the experienced master distiller Rainer Hoppe was there to support them and taught them both important tricks.
The experience from decades of the art of distillation and the most diverse spirits that Mr. Hoppe has produced over his career as a master distiller are immensely valuable for every distiller. So he not only trained Magic, but is now also passing on his knowledge to Andreas Türler in our distillery. Even today, Max von Pückler, Mr Hoppe, Magic, and Andy often sit together late into the night and passionately develop new products.
Distillation that goes straight through the stomach
But how do you develop the fine sense of intuition that is necessary to always find the right composition in a complex construct? The answer is simple: learning through experience.
In order to produce a distillate as complex as THE DUKE Gin, the distiller has to test, smell and develop a feeling for the matter again and again. When is the right time to distil the macerate? How far has the distillation process got? When is the distillation finished?
There is no fixed answer to these questions. No fixed guideline. With 13 organic ingredients that depend on the harvest, each distillation is slightly different. Finding the right composition each time and discovering the small deviations in order to preserve the incomparable character of THE DUKE make this craft a highly sensitive matter and a true art.
The love for detail
With each distillation, it is exciting to observe how each ingredient is carefully controlled, handled and used. The fresh berries are crushed to get the maximum aroma in the maceration. The lemons are peeled by hand to macerate only the fine essential oils of the zests. Other botanicals, such as ginger root and angelica root, are macerated in the dried state so that the tart spicy notes do not come out too strongly. You only learn these subtleties through frequent repetition and the training of your sense of smell. At the same time, every gin and every distillate has its own character.
The possibilities of composing new creations from different botanicals are endless. It depends on the creativity and comprehensive understanding of the distiller to find a blend that is new and exciting.
In the case of Max and Daniel’s recipe, THE DUKE Gin, this is a blend that has both fresh notes and more tangy spices. A blend that has a higher alcohol content, but at the same time remains smooth and bursting with aroma. It is a gin that you can recognise and enjoy both neat and in a long drink or cocktail. In the end, it is not only the recipe that counts, but above all the attention to detail and the feeling that the distiller has when creating it. If this is good, the result will also be good.
More on production can be found here.
Long hair, clear head
To always keep a clear head amidst all the different but equally important factors, to radiate calmness and confidence, and at the same time to practise this craft with apparent ease, these are attributes of a true artist.The drus-playing, long-haired man, who not only has a firm grip on the drumsticks but also on THE DUKE production, possesses them all. That’s our distiller – Magic.