The Legend

 
 

It is the year 1755, the birth year of the Austrian distillery Gastein Moonshine.

While gold miners from near and far tried to gain fast wealth panning for the shiny metal in the Gastein Valley, the newlyweds Vroni and Johann were able to fulfill their childhood dream: to run their own distillery.

Thanks to Maria Theresia, the then Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, it was, from this year on, finally allowed to make schnapps for commercial use. This represented a much safer source of income than the uncertain panning for gold.

 

 

 

Already as children, Vroni and Johann roamed the countryside of their idyllic mountain village Nassfeld in the Salzburg region to collect stone pine, blueberries and gentian flowers, which then were processed into homemade schnapps by their parents.

For hours the two of them watched intently as the yeast and their collected treasures turned into a liquid in the copper cauldrons over the open fire. This magical process intrigued them so much that they could not wait to be old enough to try this liquid happiness, as their parents called the self-brewed schnapps.

The years went by and Vroni and Johann learned the art of distilling their own schnapps to perfection not only from their parents but also from their grandparents.

 

When they felt that they were grown-up enough, Vroni and Johann stole a few bottles of “Schnapsal”, as the locals lovingly called their homemade liquor, from their parents’ storage and spent a balmy summer night under the stars.

It may have been due to the beguiling taste of the blueberry liqueur or the strong finish of the stone pine schnapps; this night changed everything. Suddenly Johann spoke of Vroni’s beautiful eyes and Vroni could not help taking off Johann's leather pants…

Soon the whole village celebrated a lavish wedding and shortly thereafter Vroni and Johann converted Vroni’s grandparents’ old barn into a distillery with the help of many dear friends and relatives.

 

 

 

 

Stones from the nearby river, the Gastein river, were brought to build the fire pit and the first copper cauldron was gifted to them by the mayor personally. It seemed like every single villager was proud that this young couple fulfilled their lifelong dream.

Messengers were sent to Vienna to inform Maria Theresia, that a distillery was built in the Bad Gastein region. And it was not long before the happy couple held the archducal decree of Maria Theresia in their hands. This allowed the hard working, righteous and orderly peasants to officially produce and sell 300 liters of pure alcohol in order to earn their living.

With much vigor, they continued to collect all sorts of fruit, berries, and cones in order to distill tasteful schnapps, which they sold at the surrounding markets. They also passed on their knowledge to their children. Smiling, as Vroni and Johann very well remembered as they themselves with big childish eyes watched the cauldrons, in which, as if by magic, a staple ingredient like fruit, together with yeast turned into schnapps.

 

Thanks to the great popularity of homemade schnapps, Vroni and Johann were able to build a profitable business, which they, at an advanced age, handed over to their children. Fortunately, they inherited not only the love of distilling from their parents but also the distilling rights. Once awarded to a business, these were tied to it and could only be passed on to family members.

To this day, with a great deal of love and passion for “Schnapsal”, it has been passed on from generation to generation, and now Schurli and Dani continue to distill the liquid enjoyment that made their ancestors very happy.

In a somewhat more modernized facility, but still in copper cauldrons, and in almost the same barn as before, the two Nassfeld-natives produce the Gastein Valley Moonshine according to a traditional recipe.

The basis for an excellent Austrian “Schnaspal” still lies in the best, handpicked ingredients. Even if Schurli and Dani no longer roam the forests to collect them, they still receive almost everything from regional cultivation. And the water, which is used to cool the steam, is also, as in the old days, only the purest Gastein spring water.

The craftsmanship of the schnapps distillery thus held in honor, the two have now expanded the original range to 80 different, high-percentage delicacies. In addition to the classic fruit schnapps, they have created their own hay schnapps, a hazelnut schnapps and a berry schnapps, which is hard to beat in terms of their respective enjoyment.

 


 

Just like their Grappa, that is allowed to mature in oak barrels for 18 years before it sees the light of day. Not only its aromatic taste, but also its golden color would certainly have persuaded many a gold miner to give up the panning for gold to start distilling schnapps.

But, would they have felt the same passion for distilling as Vroni and Johann lovingly did? Because it was the love oaths on the freshly mown meadows, to which the Gastein Valley Moonshine distillery credits the fact that the original glory is still shining some 300 years later.

One thing is for sure: in each of these fine drops from the Austrian Alps, you will not only taste the history, but also the lifeblood that the present pair places in every single step in the production.

And whether on a cold winter night, under the stars, after a good meal or among friends, a glass of the Gastein Valley Moonshine is guaranteed to give you an unforgettable experience.