Today marks the opening of the brand new NordCraft distillery in Hamburg which I was kindly invited to attend. Personally I am happy to see a distillery opening in the city and not out in some industrial estate somewhere in the outskirts of nowhere as it brings the idea of production back into our lives and reconnects us with the makers and the ideas behind products.
Founders Mario Gallone and Rainer Hosie
The two founders both have a background in the spirits world and met for the first time in 2011. Mario, the creative distiller, produced and developed rums for the Hamburg based import company Charles Hosie, which was founded by Rainer's grandfather back in 1918. The company started importing spirits back in 1919 and has done so ever since.
The idea behind the distillery is to bring both the knowledge about distilling botanicals and the hanseatic trading tradition into one new melting pot of creativity. A dream of both founders alike. Planning to create special products, all based on products with known and trusted origins, in small batches, not mass-production, all with lots of attention for the details in both ingredients, taste and product presentation. All of that in the neighbourhood of a bigger Hamburg brewery and in the building of a former craft brewery.
The NordCraft Botanical spirit
These days it is not so typical to actually find botanical distillers, as many simply buy aromas, use mass-produced compound products or simply stick to the regular recipe one would expect. So another reason to be happy about another distillery and people with passion for the ingredients.
The first product is the NordCraft Dry Botanical Spirit which is a clear herbal spirit, which is 100% distilled inhouse, as it is the plan with all products. This first spirit is based on regional botanicals, both fresh and dried, partially organic certified. It packs cucumber, parsley and dill into a spirit which is neither Korn, Vodka, Aquavit, nor Gin.
Nose, taste and impressions
In general the Dry Botanical Spirit was well received. People from the spirits industry all enjoyed the fact that it was not another gin, others loved the freshness in nose and taste.
My first judgement that evening was very positive as well. Experimental, yet balanced and very smooth. In a summer drink this can be an exciting ingredient. The dill and cucumber make it a great alternative to the many spirits out there. More about what one can do with it in the recipes below and on my instagram feed later on as well.
The spirit comes in a 0,7 litre bottle at 43% ABV and is available at the distillery, in their web shop www.nordcraft-hamburg.de and in selected bars and shops like Tipsy Baker, Berglund or Hobenköök.
A place for creativity
The distillery is only 200 sqm large but is the room where many products are supposed to be created. Tastings and workshops are planned as well.
A fun place to be and as I mentioned in the beginning: It is great to see the craft coming back into the city. If we decide to consume better products and enjoy innovation this is a place to watch and to visit for sure. Getting there is extremely convenient, as it is just a 2 minute walk from the S-Holstenstraße.
The opening event
At the opening event on the 4th of April 2019 an illustrious crowd of spirits and food journalists as well es friends and partners celebrated the launch of the new spirit and the official start of the distillery.
Cocktails and Drinks
The launch was supported by three bars which contributed signature drinks. The Berglund Bar created the "Back to the roots" (picture below) with vermouth, beetroot, rowan, artichokes, and the Botanical Spirit. The Fontenay Bar served us a "Botanical Wormwood" containing the Botanical spirit, rose wine, vermouth essence, agave syrup, banana, walnut bitters. Last but not least the Tipsy Baker surprised with the "Green Siblings" a neat Botanical spirit served as a shot and accompanied with a Pilsener beer, apple-shrub, and tipsy bitters.
The delicious food was matched and created by the Hobenköök restaurant. All local partners for a local place to create spirits and do business. An evening with 100% Hamburg.
A few cocktails with the new spirit
For their launch NordCraft has published a few signature cocktails which we could try as well. My favourite one was the Sour I must admit.
NordCraft Botanical pur
- 4 cl Dry Botanical Spirit
Serve in a tumbler glass with a fresh lemon zest and a sprig of dill.
- 4 cl Dry Botanical Spirit
- 10 cl Mediterranean Tonic Water
Serve in a longdrink glass with lots of ice and garnish with fresh dill.
NordCraft Summer Cup
- 4 cl Dry Botancial Spirit
- 8 cl homemade or clear lemonade
Serve in an aperitiv glass on ice with dill and a lemon wheel.
- 6 cl Dry Botanical Spirit
- 3 cl fresh lemon juice
- 2 cl simple syrup
- 2 cl eggwhite (or Aquafaba)
- 4–5 dill sprig
- Soda to top up
Shake all ingredients (except for the soda water) with plenty of ice and double strain into a glass. Carefully top up with soda water and garnish with fresh dill.