The wonderful world of Mentzendorff Kummel

Mentzendorff
By
Becky Herbert
6 October, 2016

We’re bringing it right back to the heart of Mentzendorff this week and setting our sights on the infamous and mysterious world of Mentzendorff Kummel, a luscious caraway seed based digestive, which still retains the name of our founder, Ludwig Mentzendorff.

Impeccable beard Ludwig

Impeccable beard Ludwig

Where does it come from?
Ludwig Mentzendorff ­first brought Mentzendorff Kummel to London in the 1850s at the behest of the Baron von Blanckenhagen. The Baron had established the Allasch distillery on his country estate near the Latvian port of Riga in the 1820s to produce Kummel to his family’s private recipe – a recipe which is still used today. Upon its arrival in Britain, this clear, aniseed liqueur flavoured with caraway seeds made its mark on the British palate as ‘the principal liqueur of Russia’.

Riga, Latvia – Mentzendorff Kummel’s birthplace

Riga, Latvia – Mentzendorff Kummel’s birthplace

How is it made?
Mentzendorff Kummel is now distilled by Combier Distillery in the Loire Valley, in their world famous stills designed by Gustave Eiffel. Rather than adding caraway aromas to a spirit base, Mentzendorff Kummel is actually distilled from the caraway seeds themselves. The caraway seeds are macerated for 12 hours overnight in neutral alcohol and water and placed in the stills. Distillation begins in the morning, heating the still gently by steam rather than fire, just like a bain-marie. This takes seven hours, during which time steam rises into the still’s ‘swan’s neck’ condensing it back into a liquid. Only the heart of the distillate is kept, a process known as rectification obtained by removing the heads and tails of the distillate. The resulting spirit is then mixed with water and sugar before filtering and bottling.

Delicious caraway seeds!

Delicious caraway seeds!

The famous copper stills designed by Gustave Eiffel……so Bermondsey Street!

The famous copper stills designed by Gustave Eiffel……so Bermondsey Street!

What does it taste like and how do I serve it?
Mentzendorff Kummel has a powerful nose, with lifted aromas of aniseed, cumin and hints of orange zest. The palate delivers balanced flavours of caraway, white pepper and liquorice. Today, Mentzendorff Kummel is held in high regard by golf clubs who offer post-round doses of ‘putting mixture’, drunk neat or over ice and with bartenders who appreciate its complex and stimulating flavour that is ripe for cocktail experimentation, including Prince Philip’s alleged favourite, the Silver Bullet – a lethal blend of gin, Kummel and lemon juice and a rather refreshing cocktail made with soda water and Mentzendorff Kummel.

Mentzendorff Kummel and soda

Mentzendorff Kummel and soda