Rene Strothmann and Michael Sander had a brilliant idea.
The two businessmen from Georgsmarienhütte have launched their own gin on the market. Originally, „Gin 049“ was only intended to be a hobby, but now the two are even receiving enquiries from the USA.
The story of „Gin 049“ started with a problem: „Beer doesn't agree with me“, says Rene Strothmann. Here, in this region, of all places! But as he otherwise has nothing at all against alcohol, over the years he has developed a keen palate for various flavours. After the classic gin varieties such as Bombay and Gordon's, he tried some of the more unusual ones. „After all, it seems as if new products are coming onto the market every month“, says Rene Strothmann. And indeed, gin is currently enjoying a boom. Many German towns and regions produce their own gin, such as Gin Sul of Hamburg and „Monkey 47“ of the Black Forest. Rene Strothmann also tried these gins, but to be honest wasn't that smitten. „And then we thought, well – we could make our own.“
Organic gin from the region
And to cut a long story short: nope – they couldn't. After acquiring the various licenses that are required for distilling gin, the two partners bought and studied several books, and finally („which doesn't actually happen that often“) came to the decision that it would be better to leave the distilling to a professional – „before one of us goes blind,“ as Michael Sander put it.
As the SanderStrothmann company normally deals with cosmetics and health products, the two entrepreneurs from the Harderberg have a range of good contacts, which put them in touch with the Dwersteg distillery of Steinfurt that has an organic approach. „Gin 049“ is an organic regional gin. The grain and juniper berries are untreated, and the sage comes from the Teutoburg Forest. „And you can taste it,“ promises Michael Sander. The organic alcohol is milder in flavour – and apparently doesn't cause bad hangovers. Yet with an alcohol content of 49 percent by volume, „Gin 049“ has a lot more going for it than most other gins, which tend to fluctuate between 37.5 and 43 percent. „It's perfect for flambéing a pork fillet – it burns like tinder!“ says Rene Strothmann.
After spending some three months sampling various products and negotiating with the family distillery, the two friends were finally happy with the flavour. In fact, as the whole gin thing was originally only intended to be a hobby and, according to Sander, a kind of „meditative balance“ to their otherwise highly stressful professional lives, the two filled the first bottles by hand, and burnt a „049“ onto every single cork by hand. „We did it outside on the terrace because of the smell,“ says Rene Strothmann, with Sander adding, „The gin is just our version of a model railway.“
Gin 049 in the La Vie
Last December (in week 49, to be precise) they got together with 49 friends at the Café Zeno in Osnabrück to celebrate their own gin – and quite unexpectedly very quickly sold 50 bottles. Even more unexpectedly: shortly afterwards, numerous hotels, pubs and restaurants contacted them – including the 3-star restaurant „La Vie“. Despite the fact that the price of €39 („Of course, €49 would be even better“) was really far too much for the market. „We never really did the sums properly,“ says Strothmann. In the meantime they have even been contacted by tonic water manufacturer Thomas Henry, also of San Francisco, where there is a trend for organic food, with the first enquiries. „But of course, our gin isn't going to be a global success. We are pleased with every small beverage retailer who is interested in us,“ says Rene Strothmann. So not only is the gin available in Osnabrück in restaurants such as „Tatort“, „Fricke Blöcks“ and „Zimmer Nr. 4“, but you can also buy it by the bottle at Café Zeno or from the beverage retailer Schröder. The two gin connoisseurs still burn the logo on the corks by hand. „But now we can do about 30 corks in two minutes.“