Hardenberg-Wilthen AG – Distilling for over 300 years!
Hardenberg-Wilthen AG is a family business from Lower Saxony with its headquarters in Nörten-Hardenberg and its affiliate in Wilthen. It was established around 1700 as Gräflich von Hardenberg'sche Kornbrennerei (“Count von Hardenberg’s Schnapps Distillery”). Spirits have been distilled here for more than 300 years: from traditional Korn (grain schnapps), which is considered one of the forefathers in the grain schnapps category, to fruit brandies as well as selected liqueurs. Passion, ambition and the vision to always give the best for our customers have been part of our family tradition, for which Carl Graf von Hardenberg personally vouches – “Pleasure since 1700 is our mission”!
Our portfolio has also been constantly supplemented over the past 40 years by brand growth and corporate acquisitions. Expansion began in 1971 with the acquisition of the famous Original Danziger Goldwasser, the oldest liquor in the world whose recipe dates back to 1606. Since 1990 we have been marketing the brand Original Lehment Rostocker, and the brandy distillery in Wilthen (Saxony), which had been established in 1842, was acquired in 1992. Hardenberg'sche Kornbrennerei (“Count von Hardenberg’s Schnapps Distillery”) ultimately became Hardenberg-Wilthen AG in 1998.
Today we are proud as a privately run family business to be ranked third among the German producers and marketers of branded spirits. We are also delighted to have Germany’s best-selling spirit brand, Wilthener, in the portfolio. Since 2012 the brand portfolio has also been expanded by international brands.
Our success over the centuries is based on the awareness of tradition and the open-mindedness of our employees at both locations and in the sales regions. Care and quality management are the top priorities with regard to the development and production of our spirits. Needless to say that raw material from our own farm is also utilised. Recipes and distilling secrets are passed on from master distiller to master distiller and rigorously guarded. Today Hardenberg-Wilthen AG also stands for innovation and strength in brand management, which is demonstrated by the latest product launches.
As a family enterprise we are concerned about our history and feel responsible for the future. This also includes responsible marketing of our products to the trade and consumers. That is why we support the “Enjoy in moderation” initiative: www.massvoll-geniessen.de.
Hardenberg Castle – a historic site
Hardenberg-Wilthen AG headquarters is in Nörten-Hardenberg. The ruins of Hardenberg Castle provide impressive insights into the history of the family enterprise.
The origins of Hardenberg Castle, constructed by the archbishop of Mainz, date back to the tenth century. The ecclesiastical prince used the castle to defend his possessions and to protect the population. So-called “castle guards” (Burgmänner), to which the family “von Hardenberg” also belonged, were charged with the constant supervision and administration of his property. When the Bishopric of Mainz ran out of money around 1400, the castle together with the estates of their administrators was transferred to the von Hardenberg counts. Karl-Dietrich von Hardenberg eventually built the Gräflich von Hardenberg'sche Kornbrennerei and the mansion - which is still inhabited today by the von Hardenberg counts - in 1700 at the foot of the castle.
From here they administered the estate and the associated farm, which even today provides valuable raw materials for the production of spirits. Ever since that time, the heraldic animal of the family of von Hardenberg counts - and today’s Hardenberg-Wilthen AG - is the distinctive wild boar’s head.
Anecdote regarding the heraldic animal – the wild boar
The history of the wild boar’s head in the coat of arms for the von Hardenberg counts starts in the beginning of the 14th century. The castle was besieged by enemies around 1330. These enemies wanted to storm the castle at night and the Hardenberg Castle defenders probably would have been fatally surprised if they had not been alarmed by the nocturnal activity of a wild boar. The wild boar’s grunting woke up the lords of the castle and helped them to repel the attack. The family incorporated the wild boar’s head into their coat of arms as a sign of gratitude for this wondrous deliverance from extreme adversity.
Fritz-Dietrich von Hardenberg establishes the schnapps distillery known as Gräflich von Hardenberg'sche Kornbrennerei
Majority acquisition of the brand "Der Lachs" (“The Salmon”), which stems from the liqueur factory of the same name that was established around 1598 in Danzig (Gdansk)
Acquisition of the brandy distillery in Wilthen, which had been established around 1842
Transformation into the present-day Hardenberg-Wilthen AG
Formation of Produktionsgesellschaft Santa Barbara GmbH together with Semper idem Underberg GmbH
Development of import business through the brands Trojka (CH) and Coppa Cocktails (NL)
Hardenberg-Wilthen AG takes over the brand Original Lehment Rostocker, which has been in the Hardenberg-Wilthen AG sales portfolio since 1990
Expansion of the import brand portfolio with the brands Antica Sambuca (IT) and Santiago de Cuba Rum (CU)
Further addition of the import brands by Baikal Vodka (RUS), Greenall's Gin (UK) and Opihr Gin (UK)
Extension of the portfolio by VON HALLERS (DE), Feeney's (IRL) and The Dubliner (IRL)
Foundation of the new gastronomic sales structure CapVie
Extension of the portfolio by Cask Grande (DE)
Extension of the portfolio by Ron Varadero (CU), Marama Rum (FJI) and Relicario Rum (DOM)
Hardenberg-Wilthen AG supports the „Maßvoll genießen!“ initiative out of conviction.
„Maßvoll genießen!" is an initiative of the “Arbeitskreis Alkohol und Verantwortung” (Working Group on Alcohol and Responsibility) of the registered association known as BSI: Bundesverband der Deutschen Spirituosenindustrie und -Importeure e.V. (Federal Association of the German Spirits Industry and Importers).
Activities are based on the conviction that companies in the industry actively bear a shared responsibility that consumers deal with products in a manner that is appropriate and compatible with health.
The activities of the “Working Group on Alcohol and Responsibility” include preventive, educational and information measures as well as the effective self-regulation of member companies in the BSI.