Kümmel (liqueur)

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Kaiser-Kümmel by J. A. Gilka

Kümmel, also called kummel or kimmel, is a sweet, colorless liqueur flavored with caraway seed, cumin, and fennel.

According to some historians, kümmel liqueur was first distilled in the Netherlands during the late 16th century by Lucas Bols,[1] it was then taken to Germany and Russia; the former is now the principal producer and consumer of kümmel.

An extended history [2] is that kümmel increased its popularity during the early 19th Century, being produced by 1823[3] in the village of Allažmuiža (Allasch in German) in modern day Latvia, which at the time was part of the Russian Empire, but which also had a sizable German minority population. Kümmel was produced by a Baltic German aristocrat, Baron von Blanckenhagen, who owned land around Allažmuiža which included a pure and reliable water source.

In the mid-19th Century, kümmel was every bit the rival of gin and being made with caraway rather than juniper, it had one main advantage. Caraway has a calmative effect, reducing flatulence and that bloated feeling after a heavy meal. By 1850[3], this ″medicinal″ benefit helped Ludwig Mentzendorff create a healthy business importing kümmel to Britain.

In 1905[2] amid the turmoil of revolutionary Russia, the Blanckenhagen mansion was burned down; the distillery closed, and the entrepreneurial Mentzendorff’s opened up production of their own kümmel in France. Baltic Germans moved ‘back’ to Germany as tension between Russia and Germany grew and several distilleries in Germany produced their own versions of kümmel, where it is still known as Allasch and is a popular digestif.

In the UK, it is a popular drink at many of the more traditional golf clubs.[4]. Because of its rumored ability to steady the nerves of golfers there, it acquired the nickname of ″putting mixture″.[2]


  1. ^ Calabrese, Salvatore (2002). Complete Home Bartender's Guide. Sterling Publishing. p. 192. ISBN 0-8069-8511-9.
  2. ^ a b c "allasch - The Curiologist".
  3. ^ a b "The Historians - Lost Ingredients: Kümmel".
  4. ^ "Kümmel: A Little of the Muirfield Spirit". Wall Street Journal.