We spent an enjoyable Saturday evening with friends at the Schnapps House in Reichenbach-Steegen, a fifteen minute drive from our home in Weilerbach. The folks at the Schapps House host various group functions in their distillery building and before we started our meal they gave a small presentation of their operation.
To begin with, we walked into the room where they operate their distiller. Like most things in Germany, the schnapps/liqueur distillery business is heavily regulated. Of course, to operate such a distillery it requires a license. That can be a problem because the German government does not issue new licenses. No new license for distillery operations have been issued since WWII. So the only way to obtain one is to buy or inherit one. After a lengthy search the Schapps House partners were able to acquire one in 1997 for the price of 30,000 Euros. Then they purchased the state-of-the art distillery you see here. Stainless steel on the outside, copper inside, it's about twelve feet tall. It holds the maximum amount, 150 liters, of fruit mash allowed by German law and the tower above consists of three filters, also the maximum allowed by law. From that 150 liters of mash they recover 8-9 liters of 190 proof, yes, 95 percent alcohol concentrated schnapps. From that they add water until they have about 200 liters of ready to drink/sell schnapps.
The Schapps house offers 23 types of Schnaps (only one P in the German spelling) and 30 types of liqueurs. After our meal, which was an outstanding buffet, we had an opportunity to sample a few of their products. For seven Euros we tried ten, 1/2- ounce shots of schnapps/liqueus. Our choices, left to tight in the picture here, were, Strawberry, Hazelnut Ghost and Coffee Schapps, (thank goodness we only had three schnapps) Vodka-Fig, Chocolate, Cream-Vanilla, Cappuccino, Peppermint, Almond, Mango-Jalapeno and Honeydew-Melon liqueurs.Now, because of their adherence to strict quality control in fruit mash and hygiene, plus the use of no preservatives, the Schnapps House is consistently ranked in the top ten distillers in Germany. They have won numerous awards for their schnapps and liqueurs, regularly winning top honors against much larger distributors. In spite of all that, CRIKEY!!!!, these schnapps tasted like a mixture of turpentine, rubbing alcohol and an extremely faint flavor of whatever that particular schnapps happened to be called. I think that was pretty much the across-the-board consensus among our group of twelve people who actually sampled the schnapps. I certainly don't want to disparage our Schnapps House hosts and their lives work because their schnapps is highly sought after here in Germany. Obviously, there's people who have acquired a taste for this stuff and love it but, as we said in an earlier blog, I think it's the drink you love to hate. The liqueurs were a different story. All of them were a fun, tasty delight.
The night was a great success though. We were at the Schnapps House to celebrate a friends promotion to Lt Colonel. Having the opportunity to do that in the unique setting of a German distillery made the night even more special.