Rüdesheim is a wine town. Surrounded by vineyards and perched at the banks of the Rhine River, it is spectacular to see.
For two nights, we sat on our hotel balcony watching the boats pass and the sun set over the water (and a ridiculous amount of trains, tracks and barges rumble past–the Rhine is, and has always been, a powerful commercial artery for Germany, I soon learned).
While Rüdesheim lies in the Rheingau wine region (where Riesling dominates the landscape), I also started to see another player on the scene: Asbach Uralt Weinbrand (brandy). Every damn souvenir shop was crammed with bottles small and large. How could I not get on the bandwagon?
Created by Hugo Asbach in 1892 (at the ripe age of 24, mind you), Asbach became the pride of the Rhine. Made from French grapes (hmm…perhaps there is a story there?), it is double-distilled in copper stills and aged for 24-46 months in Limousin oak.
It’s smooth and silky with notes of vanilla, caramel and grapes on the nose. Mellow and soft with an almond finish. The best story though?
In World War I, Asbach was not allowed to be sold to private customers to guarantee rations of it for the German Army.
I won’t sail without my Asbach! You want me to fight? Then you better pour me a damn tin cup filled to the brim with Asbach!