Asbach’s history dates back to 1892 when Hugo Asbach (1868–1935) founded the company in the town of Rüdesheim am Rhein.
Asbach, a native from Cologne, learned the distillery trade at the local “Export-Company for German Cognac” and further improved his knowledge in France. He founded his own company on 11 May 1892, distributing domestic “Rüdesheim Cognac” which soon became popular. After World War I, when the Treaty of Versailles decreed that the word Cognac could only be used for French products, Hugo Asbach coined the term Weinbrand for German brandy, which in 1923 became an official classification according to German wine law.
From 1924, Asbach also distributed brandy filled pralines (“brandy beans”) to address new customer demographics. The coffee drink Rüdesheimer Kaffee, invented in 1957, contains Asbach as its alcoholic ingredient. Up to today, Asbach Uralt is one of the best-known German brandy trademarks. As a long drink, it is often mixed with Cola products; especially in traditional pubs in the Berlin area, where it is served as Futschi.
The wines are carefully distilled on yeast in copper stills. The procedure involves a traditional process of two stages — raw spirit and fine spirit — that is both very time-consuming and highly labour-intensive.
The raw spirit has an alcohol content of about 40% volume and is the result of the first distillation stage. During the second distillation, one that is significantly more complex than the first, the aim is to obtain the actual fine spirit of about 75% volume, also known as the heart, that has the best characteristics for its later conversion into Asbach.
When the distillation process has been completed, the fresh wine distillates are transported to Ottersweier at the foot of the Black Forest. This is the site of the Asbach maturing cellar, unique among its kind and in its size, as well as the Asbach Treasure Trove.
The duration of the maturing process is the next important step to ensure the high quality of the Asbach brandies.
The maturing process takes place in small oak casks made of wood from the Limousin oak that has been aged for a number of years. This wood has especially large pores and is air-permeable so that the fine spirit can breathe and mature in an exchange process with air.
The fine spirit draws the natural aroma and color substances from the cask, and this is where the liquid, originally clear, gains its topaz coloring and subtle, harmonious wooden accents.
The part of the distillate that evaporates is called “the angels’ share.”
The distillates, even of one type, never mature perfectly evenly within the distillate cellar because the wine distillate and the wood are both natural products that react differently from one cask to the next. The various distillates do not reach their full maturity and perfect harmony until the second maturing process in large vats made of Spessart oak.
Ultimately, however, it is the art of the master distiller that creates the masterpiece from various distillates of different origins and vintages.
The secret Asbach maturing and finishing process brings the complex production process to a close and gives Asbach its radiant topaz hue, harmoniously blended with the full aroma of wine and its characteristic bouquet.
Asbach is the only distillery in Germany that employs its own cooper. Our cooper, one of the last of his profession in Germany, devotes his work primarily to the repair and care of the Limousin oak casks and of the large vats made of Spessart oak.
The casks are crafted from Limousin oak that is stored in the open air for a number of years. Heat and water make the wood pliable. The cooper delivers powerful hammer blows to drive the rings onto the casks. Finally, the cooper brands the cask number and the Asbach lettering on the cask.