This wealth of knowledge is one of Stählemühle’s recipes for success. “And a good nose”, adds Keller smilingly. He has a good nose but is not a drinker. Alcohol only interests him insofar as it acts as a flavour medium. The aromas on the other hand, their complexity and possible combinations create the moments of enthusiasm to which Keller is addicted. “Perfection in spirit” is both his motto and aspiration at the same time.
If he is asked about moments of happiness he will cite the seconds when the crystal clear beam of distillate finally shoots out from the fine tube. That is when alcohol and aroma become one, having passed through several stages of water, briefly mist-enveloped and permeated fresh fruit again at a certain (and secret) location in order to finally emerge from the still as a highly concentrated liquid.
More time is needed however before that moment of happiness can be experienced by those who finally hold the precious substance in a glass. Until then, the spirits and schnapps rest in the ripening room, a simple underground concrete room with shelves for the bulbous carboys. Once labelled with alcohol content and distilling date, they mature here in the coolness and darkness for varying periods of time unlike their bottling.
It is at this stage at the latest that the high value of these products becomes clear to the onlooker. The most expensive (“Serviceberry from the Upper Danube Valley”) can definitely compete with the price of a fine perfume. Yet, unlike most perfumes, this exquisite distillate with its scents of almond, marzipan and herbs, is a purely natural product – and extremely rare also since the serviceberry, a relative of the rowan, is laborious to harvest and at risk of extinction in this country.
The range includes some 240 varieties, including exotics such as “Bourbonvanille aus Madagaskar” (Bourbon Vanilla from Madagascar), “Geist von der japanischen Ölminze” (Spirit of Japanese Mint Oil) or “Teegeist vom Honeybush” (Spirit of Honeybush Tea) from the South African Cederberg region. Equally fascinating are the “Geist vom Hegauer Steinpilz” (Spirit of Hegauer Porcino), a “Schwarzer Trüffel aus dem Piemont” (Black Truffle from Piemonte) or a “Zwiebelgeist von der Höri-Bülle” (Spirit of Onion from the Höri Peninsula): Specialities that delight high-end gastronomy in particular. Stählemühle’s “Sizilianische Blutorange Moro” (Blood Orange from Sicily (Moro)) has been the bestseller for some time – an incomparably intensive citrus explosion on nose and palate that immediately leaves an indelible impression on the taste memory.