Destille Berlin is a craft spirit festival where for two days distilleries showcase their unique artisanal spirits. Everything must be sustainably made with natural ingredients and independently produced. This year you could sample anything from gin, rum, whisky, mezcal, vodka, aquavit, and cognac to fruit brandies and much more.
Destille is open to buyers, distillers, bar people and anyone who enjoys handcrafted spirits. All the drinks found at the festival are produced by small distilleries without corporate shareholders, and they must be free from artificial and synthetic additives, preservatives, flavourings, sweeteners and GMOs.
This year they had many tastings, seminars and panel discussions, but unfortunately, most of those on Saturday were in German. The ones in English covered topics such as “Your ultimate home bar”, “What is a vintage cocktail?”, “Tequila & Mezcal”, and they also hosted a tasting of industrial and artisanal spirits and Chinese spirits.
Personally, I was surprised by the number of Finnish brands at this year’s Destille. I’ve been waiting to try Helsinki Distilling Company’s Akvavit for a long time, so it was great to find the guys at the festival. During the festival, distiller Mikko Mykkänen from Helsinki Distilling Company was handed the “Outstanding Innovation” award for his great ideas and imagination when it comes to distilling spirits. The judges were especially impressed by their Tyrnipontikka (sea buckthorn moonshine) and Tyrni Gin.
I also got to sample a spirit called Korn (also known as Kornbrand). It is a cereal grain spirit typical in Germany. The younger generation used to drink it as it was cheap, and, as you can probably imagine, the quality was also poor. Today, when craft spirits are appreciated more, many have started to produce artisanal Korn in small batches. No colouring, flavourings or artificial sweeteners are allowed in the production.
It is similar to vodka but has the smoothness and flavour of new-make spirit. Korn must be a minimum of 32% ABV. I found Korn very pleasant to drink, but unfortunately, it is not available outside the German market, at least not at the moment… Most stalls were selling their bottles to take home – shame I only had my hand luggage with me!
Overall, it was a nice event and I enjoyed meeting many craft distillers. However, I found the venue very small and it started to get very crowded towards late afternoon. Unlike most events I’ve been to, at Destille they didn’t have a bar where you could buy a drink (not even water!), and the venue was lacking additional seating. It is nice to sit down and have a break and a glass of water or a cocktail and chat to other festival goers. Unfortunately, at Destille this was not possible.
Do you take part in drink-related events? Which ones are you going to this year? Please leave your comment below, I would love to hear your recommendations!