When former art publisher Christoph Keller stumbled upon sleepy Stählemühle, an old dormant mill turned schnapps distillery, he took upon the task of bringing it back to life. The Aqua Vitae fruit brandies produced in small, high-quality batches have received over 170 international awards including "Brandy of the Year 2011." Alongside Stählemühle, he additionally distills Monkey 47, named after its 47 different ingredients, with his companion Alexander Stein of Black Forest Distillers under their second label Schwarzwald Dry Gin, also awarded “Best Gin in the World” at the 2011 International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. We visited the master distiller to learn all about the ancient, alchemical science of distilling, the most exotic and obscure fruits imaginable, and to see how such a sustainable and organic operation can be achieved on a small farm with a limited amount of land, a lot of know-how, and the work of four hands.
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