Germany's gin joints: it's not all about Oktoberfest beer

As Oktoberfest beer lovers rave on to Oom-pah brass bands at the world’s most celebrated beverage-dedicated festival, let’s take a moment to remember that Germany isn’t only about beer. Despite the expertise you taste when sipping a German brew, Germans also produce world-renowned wines, schnapps, and even gins. 

Here’s a sample of Germany’s gins, some of which are gaining a strong foothold on the international market.


elephant gin

Pack your trunks and take a trip to Africa! The brainchild of three partners that spent time in Tanzania and Kenya, Elephant Gin, distilled near Hamburg in a reformed Schnapps distillery, takes its ginspiration from African botanicals including African wormwood, Devil’s Claw, and the fruit of the tree of life itself, Baobob. Apart from sourcing the finest African ingredients, Elephant Gin gives back to Africa. It’s business partners include two foundations, one in Kenya and one in South Africa, that strive to protect elephants from illegal poaching. 15% of Elephant’s Gin profits go back to the elephants.

Perhaps when Oktoberfest partiers wander off the festival grounds they’ll wander over to the distillery in the center of Munich where Duke’s is made. Two partners joined forces to make a distinct gin that includes Bavarian hops and malt, the same that the region’s famous beer is made with. Add to these 13 herbs and spices and a bespoke copper kettles in which the gin is twice distilled and you’ve got a Bavarian bijou for your tastebuds. 

Bavaria = Beer but the Alte Hausbrennerei Penninger Distillery wants you to think gin. Everything about the gin is authentic Bavarian, from the botanicals - gentian root, melissa, and bald-money - to the distillation process. First, Granit’s spirit matures for several months in earthenware vats. When it is ready, it is filtered through hand-cut granite stones originating from the Bavarian town of Hauzenberg in a process originating from the 1960s - thus the gin’s name, Granit.

The Saar region lies at the center of the European Continent, where Germany meets France and Luxembourg. The region is typically known for its white wines, in particular, Riesling. Funnily enough, Ferdinand’s Gin takes its ginspiration from the same grape that makes its most famous wines. 30 botanicals, including those from the local vineyards, round out Ferdinand’ flavour. The Royal Prussian District Forester, Ferdinand Geltz, for who the gin is named, would be proud.

The 47 comes from the 47 botanicals. The monkey from British Royal Air Force Wing Commander Monty Collins. No, neither of those sentences seem to make any sense. But indeed, Monkey 47 sources a whopping 47 ingredients, some, like lingonberries, hailing from its geographical origins in the Black Forest. It calls itself “Monkey” because Collins, who helped rebuild the Berlin Zoo and named his Schwarzwald holiday home “The Wild Monkey”, made what he called Black Forest Gin whose recipe was found a little over a decade ago in a box labeled “Max the Monkey - Schwarzwald Dry gin. Seriously, we’re not monkeying around.