The district of Rottal-Inn in Lower Bavaria is an unquestionably attractive region for the inclined spirits enthusiast. That’s where you’ll find the Engel Naturbrennerei (natural distillery), which is run by Austrian-born Manuel Engel. In addition to eau-de-vies (in Germany these are differentiated in Brände and Geiste) liqueurs and gin, non-alcoholic aperitifs are also produced there and offered for purchase. Manuel Engel relies as far as possible on the regional card and produces his products from fruit and vegetables from the region, although raw materials from Austria, Italy and southern France are also used. In my article today, I would also like to approach one of his products – and a very exciting one to be honest. (provided test product)*
It is a beetroot eau-de-vie, more precisely a “Geist von der Innviertler Rote Beete” (eau-de-vie made of beetroot from the Austrian Innviertel). The beets for this spirit come appropriately from the Austrian Innviertel, where they are mashed directly the day after harvest (since it is a Geist and not a Brand, the alcoholic fermentation of the mash here is not significantly triggered by the beet). The vegetable was grown by friends of Manuel Engel, who grow the beetroots in the Innkreis on a permaculture field. At an abv of 42% the spirit finally makes it into the bottle.
Aroma: Yes, earthy, spicy and expressive tones of a freshly sliced tuber of beetroot rise to my nose. The authenticity of the eau-de-vie is really captivating and very successful. In the background, I find subtle associations of lemon, a little mineral salt and diffuse herbal tones.
Taste: The alcohol of the Naturbrennerei Engel Rote Beete Geist is well integrated and carries the flavor profile quite wonderfully. The beet is also absolutely successfully captured on the palate, crisp freshness and earthy spiciness meet here and make you want to take another sip. Slightly mossy, fine herbal associations and a certain citrus freshness are also in the mix here.
Finish: long, authentic, with earthy tones.
Beet eau-de-vies are certainly not what most people immediately think of when it comes to fruit (or in this case vegetable) spirits. And when people now talk about bar culture and cocktails, they unfortunately also find their way into their minds far too rarely. Yet, they are really excellent for giving drinks a very special and unique character. Especially in combination with gin or flavourful vodkas, there are many interesting possibilities. Even with a nice bourbon, I would think of some ideas here – for example, in a variation of the Boulevardier. My personal favorite combination with beetroot, however, comes from Mexico. The spicy, earthy flavors of mezcal (which, of course, also includes a classic tequila) are just a fantastic match for the purple-red vegetables. And so today I opted for a drink based on a smoky Oaxaca mezcal (I went for Meteoro), to which I added some lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, a Runny Honey made from dark forest honey, a nuance of rosemary eau-de-vie from the Freimeisterkollektiv and some heat from a habanero shrub. My drink is called “Oaxaca Innside” – because besides the beetroot from the Innkreis, there is also a good portion of mezcal involved.
Recipe “Oaxaca Innside”:
4.5 cl Meteoro Joven Mezcal
2 cl Naturbrennerei Engel Rote Beete Geist
2 cl lemon juice
0.5 cl good balsamic vinegar
2 cl Runny Honey from dark forest honey (2:1, see below)
1 bar spoon (0,25 cl) Freimeisterkollektiv Rosmarin (Geist)
1 Dash Bittermens Habanero Shrub
Runny Honey: Simply heat dark forest honey and water in a 2:1 ratio in a pan while stirring until a homogeneous syrup consistency is achieved (takes only a few minutes), then let cool.
Preparation: shake all ingredients vigorously on ice in a shaker and strain into a glass filled with solid ice.
Garnish: the leaf of a chili plant
Buying sources: you can order the beetroot eau-de-vie here.
*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.