Three Days with Ferdinand


Sometimes you are just lucky, for instance when you get a call on Friday that you are invited to visit a gin distillery on Monday! In this case, I had the chance to spend some time in Saarbruecken to visit Ferdinand’s Distillery and some vineyards.

Off with some off-dries

After a long journey with the “always reliable” Deutsche Bahn, I finally arrived in the far western end of Germany and the evening started off with some regional meals combined with off-dry Riesling wines. This was a nice way of introducing the special aspect of Ferdinand’s Gin, because it is infused with off-dry slate Riesling from the Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken vineyard.

Consequently, the first wine we enjoyed in combination with the starter, was a 2011 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett. To list all of the wines we tried this evening would unnecessarily prolong this paragraph, so I just mention the 2007 Dr. Wagner Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spätlese, which was my favourite. Moreover, we had an excellent Riesling Tresterbrand from Peter Lauer, which was aged in Pinot Noir casks for 15 years as a digestive.

Slate from the vineyard Saarburger Rausch

Slate from the vineyard Saarburger Rausch

Working our way to the Gold Cap

Lobby of the Zilliken vineyard

Lobby of the Zilliken vineyard

The next day began with a wine-tasting at the Zilliken vineyard. There we had the chance to taste our way through the VDP quality pyramid and the two wines, which stood out from the rest were a 1999 Saarburger Rausch Auslese and the 2010 Saarburger Rausch Auslese Gold Cap. The speciality with the older vintage was that the flavour components like the high amount of residual sweetness and the acidity are polymerized, which makes the wine taste less sweet. Although the 1999 vintage was not that old a wine, this effect was already noticeable. In comparison, the Gold Cap, which is also used in the Ferdinand’s Gold Cap Gin, still had an opulent sweetness, but was balanced by a high level of acidity. This meant that the wine was not cloyingly sweet, either.

centuries old oak barrels in the cellar of the Zilliken vineyard

Centuries old oak barrels in the cellar of the Zilliken vineyard

Apples, quince and vineyard peaches

part of the avadis still and exploratory still

Part of the avadis still and exploratory still

The next stop was at the Avadis Distillery, where Ferdinand’s Gin is distilled. This is where Master distiller Andreas Vallendar took us through all the steps of the distillation of Ferdinand’s Gin and Ferdinand’s Quince Gin. Apart from that, we sampled single botanical distillates of wheat and lemon, as well as a spirit straight from a small exploratory still. Besides the lemon eau de vie, which literally burned itself into my memory, I found the fact that some botanicals are macerated in the base spirit while the aroma of others is extracted through the alcoholic fumes during distillation, peculiarly interesting. Afterwards we visited the orchards where the apples, quince and vineyard peaches used for the production of the Ferdinand’s products are grown.

apple trees at the avadis orchard

Apple trees at the avadis orchard

vineyard peach trees in an old vineyard

Vineyard peach trees in an old vineyard

Quick pit-stop at Gunther Jauch’s vineyard

Von Othegraven vineyard

Von Othegraven vineyard

In the afternoon we took a trip to a second vineyard. The Von Othegraven vineyard is owned by famous German quizmaster and talk-show host Gunther Jauch. Again all the vines that are cultivated by this vineyard are Riesling grapes. In contrast to the Zilliken vineyard, all the wines produced by Von Othegraven are fermented and finished in stainless steel tanks, rather than in old oak barrels. Even if the off-dry to sweet wines were as good as the ones produced by Zilliken, I enjoyed the dry ones even more. Especially the 2011 Ockfen Bockstein Großes Gewächs, was a great Riesling with delicate notes of honey and gooseberries.

Wine, wine, wine and Schnitzel

The last stop of the day was the Boesen vineyard and restaurant. There we sampled a great variety of wines from different grapes. The Pinot Noir Blanc De Noirs was the one which stood out from the rest for me. To take the edge of all the wine and to fill our empty stomach, we were drowned in an ocean of delicate Schnitzel.

Golden highlight of the day

Ferdinand's Gold Cap Gin in a wooden lantern

Ferdinand’s Gold Cap Gin in a wooden lantern

At the end of this extended meal we were served a glass of exclusive Ferdinand’s Gold Cap Gin. It goes without saying, that this was the highlight of our day. Not only because the gin tasted splendid, but also because it was one of the last unopened bottles. Only short over 600 bottles were produced in total.

Ferdinand’s Gold Cap Gin:
Price:198 € / per litre
Appearance:Clear, big windows, slow tears
Noes:Lavender, grape notes, cacao, lime and citrus notes, vanilla
Taste:Little alcohol, lavender, rose petals, complex spice aroma, juniper, a hint of citrus notes
Aftertaste:Spicy aftertaste with some juniper and vanilla
4 Lions

So there I was, sipping this special gin neat and I could not help myself from feeling a little stupid. All this time I was ranting about nobody drinking gin on its own and this time I actually enjoyed it. Despite the little alcoholic burn, which should come as no surprise, considering this gin is high-proof it was very complex and delicate and left you longing for another glass of it. I only can imagine what an outstanding Gin Cocktail, this one would make.

In summary, it were three glorious days, which I will not forget soon. I especially have to thank Dennis and Erik from Capulet And Montague who made this journey possible in the first place and who made a lot of effort to make sure we had a great time!

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