A few weeks ago, DOTW sat down with Kiki Braverman, an amazing woman from the deepest of rural Bavaria. She’s reviving old European distilling traditions and importing her products to the U.S. under the name Pür Spirits. Her award-winning products are of the finest quality and adhere to her sustainable agriculture philosophy. She uses fresh, local ingredients and has perfected the distilling traditions of her culture and heritage.
Drink of the Week [DOTW]: What brought you to the spirits industry?
Kiki Braverman [KB]: I was born into a culture of brewing beer and distilling spirits. Rural Bavaria is historically an area that is brimming with breweries and artisan distilleries. I’ve always been interested in organic food growing practices. I’ve always had my own garden and liked to grow herbs to cook with, but also to turn into beverages of all sorts.
DOTW: What is the Bavarian tradition of brewing and distilling?
KB: The crusading monks came back from the holy lands in the late Middle Ages with the knowledge of distillation. They figured out very quickly that they could macerate herbs and flowers in those distillations and turn them into medicinal liqueur. Liqueur making and distillation of fruit, in particular, has a very long tradition in the area I grew up in. It is part of our lives. We still drink medicinal liqueurs as medicine when we are sick. The most prominent liqueur is the elderflower liqueur. It has to be made, of course, from the fresh elderflowers to have that potency as an anti-viral agent.
DOTW: How many of your products are available in the U.S.?
KB: First and foremost the 3 liqueurs. The elderflower, the pear, and a blood orange spice. The pear–you have to try that. It’s very different from anything else in the market as far as pear is concerned. if you drink it, it’s like biting into the freshest pear ever. Bavaria is close to Italy and has always been working very closely with Italian farmers. For the blood orange spice liqueur we work with an Italian blood orange grower and use these incredible blood oranges. Then, some of our apricots go in and it’s spiced with fresh cinnamon and cloves. It’s fantastic. Then we have the bierbrand, it’s a distilled beer that’s aged in chestnut barrels. Lastly, I have the two geists. One is distilled from raspberries and the other from sloe berries.
DOTW: Are there any in the works?
KB: We have an heirloom apricot liqueur which I’m hoping to bring soon. I’m also hoping to bring out a whole portfolio of bierbrands.
DOTW: Which is your favorite?
KB: The elderflower. I have a very close relationship to the elderflower. It grows in every garden in the area where I come from. The Celtic and Germanic tribes that originally populated the area believed that the elderflower was a goddess who protected their farmsteads. You could never hurt or cut down an elderflower tree which is perhaps why they are absolutely everywhere! Every farm and house has their elderflower tree in their garden.
DOTW: What’s the best way to enjoy your Pür Spirits?
KB: For a spirit to be successful In Germany, or Europe in general, it has to be great straight. It has to be great without a refrigerator, without ice, it has to be able to sit in the boiling sun and still taste amazing even if the bottle was open for a long time. It’s the only way it will survive on the store shelf as a product in the long run.
DOTW: So you would drink this neat, at room temperature?
KB: Yea, but then I came to the U.S. and people started using them in cocktails. It’s so good! The feedback I’m getting is very much in tune with my philosophy. I believe in really good food that is grown in sustainable ways, so why not have a drink that agrees with that philosophy? I think I bring that to the bartender at home and to the craft bartenders in the bars.
INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED
Images courtesy of Pür Spirits