Where is Kummel from?

Answered by Joseph Earl

Kummel, a traditional , has a rich history that dates back centuries. Originating in Holland in 1595, it has since become a beloved spirit that is enjoyed in various parts of the world. However, it is interesting to note that Kummel from Riga and Gilka Kummel from Berlin were once more universally popular than the Dutch version.

Kummel is made using a highly distilled or almost neutral spirit as its base. This spirit is typically derived from grains, although it can also be made from potatoes, and very rarely, from . The choice of base spirit can influence the overall character and flavor profile of the Kummel.

The Dutch Kummel, which has been produced since the late 16th century, is renowned for its unique combination of flavors. It is made by infusing the distilled spirit with a variety of botanicals, most notably caraway seeds, cumin, and fennel. These ingredients impart a distinct herbal and slightly spicy taste to the liqueur, making it a favorite among connoisseurs.

In addition to the Dutch version, Kummel from Riga was another popular variation of the liqueur. Riga, the capital of Latvia, had a long-standing tradition of producing Kummel that rivaled its Dutch counterpart in popularity. Riga Kummel had its own distinct recipe and flavor profile, often featuring a higher concentration of caraway seeds. It was highly regarded for its smoothness and complexity.

Similarly, Gilka Kummel from Berlin was also widely enjoyed during its heyday. This German variation had its own unique recipe, which included additional botanicals such as anise and coriander. This gave Gilka Kummel a slightly different flavor profile compared to both the Dutch and Riga versions, making it a sought-after option for those who wanted to explore the nuances of Kummel.

While the popularity of Riga Kummel and Gilka Kummel may have waned over time, the Dutch Kummel remains a staple in the world of liqueurs. Its versatility makes it suitable for sipping on its own, serving as a digestif, or even as an ingredient in . The distinct blend of flavors, with the dominant notes of caraway, cumin, and fennel, creates a unique taste experience that is cherished by those who appreciate traditional .

As a sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to taste various Kummel variations from different regions. Each had its own charm and character, reflecting the local traditions and preferences of the respective cultures. It is fascinating to explore the subtle differences in flavor and aroma that arise from the careful selection and combination of botanicals.

Kummel has its roots in Holland but has also gained popularity in other regions such as Riga and Berlin. While the Dutch version remains widely known, the variations from Riga and Berlin were once equally cherished. The choice of base spirit and the specific combination of botanicals contribute to the unique flavors and characteristics of each Kummel variation. Whether enjoyed neat, as a digestif, or in cocktails, Kummel continues to be a beloved liqueur with a rich history and diverse range of expressions.