Louisville, Ky.-based Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. has distilled the world’s oldest known gin recipe, first documented in 1495, by a wealthy merchant from the Duchy of Guelders (in what we now know as Germany).
The recipe, broadly documented in Tristan Stephenson’s book, The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace, detailed a brandy recipe made from, “10 quarts of wine thinned with clear Hamburg beer. After distillation, the liquid would be redistilled with ‘two handfuls of dried sage, 1Lb of cloves, 12 whole nutmegs, cardamom, cinnamon, galangal, ginger, grains of paradise’ and – crucially – ‘juniper berries.’”
“We have become increasingly enamored with distilling gin,” says Copper & Kings founder, Joe Heron. “The creative palette has always been interesting, but what is exciting is our ability to distill very unique, very differentiated gins using our brandy base, and our brandy alembic double-distillation technique focused on retention and concentration of flavor. We have no interest in producing me-too gins using Grain Neutral Spirits as a base.”
Copper & Kings head distiller Brandon O’Daniel says it was a challenge to take a rough, centuries-old recipe description and interpret it in a logical, scalable way. The distillery worked with Louisville’s Monnik Beer Co., which replicated the medieval Hamburg beer.
“This may be the greatest job in the world,” O’Daniel says. “How many people do what I do? Exploring, experimenting, making booze from the 15th century? How cool is that?”