Asbach (formerly Asbach Uralt), one of Germany’s oldest and best known brandies, celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2017.
The picture-perfect town of Rüdesheim sits along the Rhein river, the old town seeming as though it has always existed. It was here, in 1892, that the ambitious, 24-year-old Hugo Asbach (1868–1935) founded his distillery. In 1908, he registered the brand name “Asbach & Co. Uralt” at the Trade Registry of the Imperial Patent Office. Uralt is German for “ancient.” and has since been dropped.
Asbach, a native of Cologne, learned the distillery trade at a local firm named “Export-Company for German Cognac,” and further improved his knowledge in France. Like other brandy producers of his time (as well as ours), Cognac was the ideal he aspired to in his own brandy distilling. And “Rüdesheim Cognac” was what he called his product, which soon became popular. After World War I, however, the Treaty of Versailles decreed that the word Cognac could only be used for French products, specifically from that region. Asbach pivoted and coined the term “Weinbrand,” literally wine brandy, for German brandy, which in 1923 became an official classification according to German wine law.