Before founding his own distillery Stählemühle in Schwarzwald, southern Germany, not far from Bodensee, Christoph Keller worked as a successful graphic designer and art director. The nature and his desire for freedom lured him to an old rural homestead that he made into a unique distillery.

The romantic old Stählemühle buildings immersed in beautiful natural setting are home of one of the best distilleries in Europe. Equipped with the license to produce alcohol since the 19th century, the old mill was empty since 1976. Christoph Keller bought it in 2004 to escape into the idyllic life and work in nature.

We visited Keller’s mill in the middle of the warm summer season. Yet, we walked through the herb garden where Keller grows some key ingredients for his spirits and peeked into a fantastic cellar with huge demijohns filled with some of the best brandies. Designed by architect Philipp Mainzer, known under his Frankfurt-based furniture brand e15, the cellar is the eye-catching showcase of Stählemühle’s spirits. Raw concrete-burried structure comprises of the degustation and tasting space with exposed concrete on walls and ceiling with e15 TA01 Ponte tables and BE01 Calle benches adding some comfort to the raw space.

Mainzer designed other spaces around the estate too. These include the room with a new distillery boiler, a custom designed pot built by the German copper smith Arnold Holstein. This retro machine is now producing some of the best liquors in the world including high-crafted Stählemühle fruit brandies.

However, the popular wordwide bestseller gin Monkey 47, which is also Keller’s own invention, is now produced outside this small distillery.

Interview & text: Adam Štěch
Text edit: Helena Kardová
Photo: Matěj Činčera
Video: Jan Rybák