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An interview with Murre Gin: Ralph Gemmel talks about how the carrot got into gin and how it received awards in its first year

by Yascha Roshani
Murre Gin im Interview

There's something iconic about carrots. We know them from Bugs Bunny, from Helge Schneider, from the myth that they increase eyesight and then there's that movie with Clive Owen - "Shoot 'Em Up". Thanks to Ralph and Bärbel Gemmel, carrots are now also being used as a botanical in gin. That alone may be great news - especially as it shows once again how limitless the imagination and recipes for craft drinks and gins are. Even happier news from Ralph and Bärbel's point of view is the success of Murre Gin: five awards in its first year, two of them gold. In this interview, Ralph tells us about the creation of Murre Gin, the division of tasks between Ralph and Bärbel and where the orange color comes from.

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You made a gin with carrots. How did you come up with the idea of using carrots as a botanical?

It had been clear for a while that we wanted to make a gin, but we hadn't yet found a suitable niche. When I went for a walk with the dog in the Hangelarer Heide, I had the brilliant idea of using carrots - carrots used to be grown here. In the neighboring villages, the people of Hangelar are still called "Hangelarer Murre", or Hangelar carrots. When researching online, we couldn't find many similar products on the market - Elg Gin from Denmark was the only one that caught our eye - so the idea for an unusual ingredient was born.

And the carrots for your batches also come from your region?

The carrots are purchased locally in the retail chain, but as regional organic produce. Carrots have not been grown in Hangelar for a long time.

Der Murre Gin mit einem seiner Schöpfer im Hintergrund
The Murre Gin with one of its creators in the background

Were you sure from the start that it would taste good or were you still a little nervous before tasting the very first distillate with carrots?

The trend after the first prototypes was pointing in the right direction, but by the time we had the first bottling in the glasses after the resting period, i.e. ready for sale, we were very excited to see how it would turn out. And then happy and relieved.

You make Murre Gin together with your wife. How did your desire to make your own gin come about?

The idea for a gin came from my wife Bärbel. I once bottled a Scotch single malt whisky in 2016 as "Hangelar Edition No. 1", but since then I haven't had any whisky in the right quantity - half a barrel is enough for the home village. At some point, Bärbel said to me: "Why don't you do it like the Scottish distilleries? You tell them yourself all the time at your tastings. They also make gin while they're waiting for their first whisky." At first I thought that was absurd, but when the carrot came along, things started to take shape.

How is the experience of designing and marketing a gin together as a couple? It's certainly good when you win two awards at once.

We cover different areas according to our skills. I'm the man for the business side and have sufficient expertise in spirits. Bärbel, as a graphic designer and photographer, is responsible for the nice things to do with our gin. For example, the label design. In total, that makes 2x gold, 1x silver and 2x bronze for us in our first year of existence. That gives us confidence for the future.

Murre Gin neben dem Fünnefunfuffzich - dank der 55% Alkohol ist der Fünnefunfuffzich präsenter in Cocktails und bringt seine Botanicals auch beim puren Genuss stärker hervor
Murre Gin next to Fünnefunfuffzich - thanks to the 55% alcohol, Fünnefunfuffzich is more present in cocktails and also brings out its botanicals more strongly when enjoyed neat

How did you produce the first test runs before the first big batch? Did you work with a professional distillery right from the start or how does it work when you just have a cool idea?

At the very beginning, there were "set-ups" based on vodka before we turned to Frank Ginsberg in Windeck, went through the fine-tuning and he then took over the distillation.

You have also been organizing whisky tastings and events for many years. What exactly do you specialize in?

My heart belongs to Scotch single malt whisky, and that's still the case. I recently hosted a craft beer and whisky tasting and a Scotch single malt from sweet wine casks tasting.

Would you say it's an advantage to be a spirits connoisseur and then bring out a gin? I can imagine that the tasting experience helps a lot.

There are certainly different aspects that can be an advantage for a gin. Tasting spirits professionally for a long time is certainly just as advantageous as launching a gin on the market as or with an agency, for example. I don't really want to identify any advantages for one approach or the other. Basically, however, we had very specific ideas about what a gin should be like, which were rather conservative. It can have sweetness (carrot and orange zest) and freshness (peppermint), but the juniper has to dominate. That's how we interpret EU law and that's how we make our gin.

Ralph mit Fünnefunfuffzich und dem mit Awards geschmückten Murre Gin
Ralph with the Fünnefunfuffzich and the Murre Gin decorated with awards

However, the orange color in Murre Gin is due to dye, which is rather rare in gin. Did the idea occur to you because caramelized sugar is common in whisky?

Yes, that was indeed the case. I hesitated for a while because I'm not a big fan of caramelized sugar in whisky and I'm a fan of "whisky as authentic as possible", but I didn't want to give away the orange moment either. But that's not set in stone and could still change. The Fünnefunfuffzich is already a clear thing.

Does the taste of Fünnefunfuffzich make a clear difference to 44% Murre Gin?

Absolutely. With the 55%, it is more present in the mixers and the botanicals are also much more expressive on their own - less watered down.

What is your drinking recommendation for Murre Gin?

Drink what you like. Basically, every spirit should first be given the chance to assert itself on its own. If you like it, add an Indian tonic, in summer I like to drink it with ginger beer. As winter approaches, it's also great as a hot toddy.

The market for sloe gin is growing at the moment. Are you coming up with Murre Sloe Gin next, or is it another vegetable that we're not expecting?

I have indeed thought about sloe gin, but I don't really like sloe myself, so it's unlikely to happen. But a berry could possibly find its way into Murre Gin at some point. And this idea also came from my wife Bärbel.

Better do the carrots! You can order the Murre Gin here and the Fünnefunfuffzich Gin here.

Matching products to the article

Murre Gin Fünnefunfuffzich - Premium London Dry Gin
35,90 (€71,80 per l) 39,90
"flut gin" Murre Gin Barrel Aged - London Dry Gin
89,90 (€179,80 per l) 119,00

About the autor:

Yascha Roshani

Yascha Roshani

Mitgründer von Honest & Rare

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Mich begeistern Getränke aller Art. Ob Bier, Gin, Weinbrand, Cold Brew Kaffee oder Limo. Vor allem liebe ich die Kultur, regionalen Bezüge und Herstellung von Getränken. Selbst braue ich ab und an Bier, setze Liköre an und röste Kaffee in der Pfanne.