1) Who is Kristina Wolf
Well known as “the N.O.S.E.”, (the nature of spirit experience), Kristina Wolf is a passionate spirits enthusiast and a well respected German expert in the Rum business. Starting her apprenticeship as a restaurant management assistant at the young age of 16, she has more than 30 years of experience in gastronomy in Germany and Switzerland.
After she obtained a degree in ‘Hotel Management’ in the early 90’s, she worked as Restaurant and Hotel Manageress. It was at that time she turned her private passion into a business by opening her own spirit shop in 2007 in Berlin; in that shop, she sold over 700 different spirits including Rum, Whisk(e)y, Cognac, Armagnac, Gin, Cachaça, and Pisco.
Nowadays she teaches consumers about spirits by lecturing to gastronomes, bartenders and professionals of the trade; she also hosts renowned educational tastings at bar and spirit fairs all over. Kristina is a recognized member of the Malt Ambassadors, the rum panel in London, Paris, Berlin and the RumXPs, she also serves as a judge for international competitions like Concours Mondial Bruxelles, ISW, and Michelangelo SA.
Furthermore, Kristina is well connected to some Rum distilleries, where her consultancy is required when introducing their brands in the European market.
2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
By 1986 / 1987 when I had my first job behind a bar, the affair had begun, but the only drinkable rum we had in the German Democratic Republic was Havana Club. (Cuba / GDR both Communist states)
3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.
When I was coming up in the spirits world, Rum was not really well known in Germany. So I did a lot of educating about rum; I was doing tastings in my shop, classes at business schools and on trade facilities and gastronomy–anywhere I could– for years.
4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?
I still got plans… I have to keep them secret for now, they are still plans, but keep an eye out, it will great.
5) Favourite Drink + Recipe
I have a few: Old Fashioneds, Daiquiris, a well made Pina Colada, most of the Tiki Drinks, Dark and Stormy, a simple Rum with Coconut water, just pure to enjoy – ahem, as you see, it depends on my mood
6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
Today the Rum industry is mixed up, but emerging. There are huge companies, smaller more creative distilleries, Blending companies, small Craft distilleries, Independent bottlers, and still every year new distilleries are starting somewhere with a crazy idea. It seems everyone wants to try to get a piece of spirits market. It seems to be stifling the growth. Along with that the Rum category has to fight for a stronger place in the overall spirits market (Vodka, Whisky, Gin, Soshu, Tequila etc.). I think the Rum industry needs to be clearer to the consumers, especially about what and how they are producing their rums.
In five years? I hope some of the old but innovative or old fashioned Distilleries are still existing; some of the “new“ distilleries who didn´t really understand what they were doing have left the field or rapidly change their attitudes. I hope some Rum Blenders are more forthright with their consumers and just try transparency / honesty. Also, I hope the prices do not keep exploding like in the last five years. But most of all, I hope every part of the production process is not harming the fields, the workers, the environment or the consumers.
7) Share some of your mentors and how they have helped you.
In the Rum Business there were many mentors that inspired me, here are a few:
The first was my old mentor at the bar, it was 1991, he is a former world champion bartender (from the 50’s or 60’s), his name is Sigi Zeitträger. He is now over 70 years of living, sharing and caring, he lives part time in Germany and part time in LA. He taught me that a drink is good if you don’t need too many ingredients or too much decoration. Because he traveled a lot, he had a lot of old and rare spirits which he graciously shared with me. Rum was definitely in those tastings, but, I was about 21 years old so I had no preferences yet.
My former partner Klaus Pinkernell opened a Cadenhead`s Whisky Shop in 2004 here in Berlin. I helped him and simultaneously developed in this business. I was in charge of writing the tasting notes down for everything. This, of course, included the tasting notes for the rums and I was falling in love with the old Demeraras, Long Ponds, and Caronis.
Klaus’ interest was focused on Single Malt Whisky, so I decided to branch out and focus more on the Rum side. Keep in mind, at this time there were only two proper shops for rum in Germany. In 2007, I took a leap and opened the third.
Ed A. M. Melief from E&A Scheer, Amsterdam. He helped me to release my first own bottling with my own label in 2007. Great man! R.I.P.
Christian Vergier, a well known french master blender for Rhum and Cognac, taught me a lot about wood, casks, cask management, french style rhums, how to blend, fermentation, yeast and french art of living! T-Punch for breakfast? No problem, especially after a long night with distillers, cellar masters, master blenders and teachers in the alcohol business. „Merci beaucoup!“
8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 month?
– I travelling right now to South Africa to judge spirits.
– next month I have to finish some paperwork for my future plans (It is going to be GREAT!).
– Multiple spirit fairs, a huge bar show, and the German Rum Festival are in September and October
– Then some short travels in Europe again
Ok, this is just an overview of the next four month. Next year I hope I can realize my plans and I will be working hard to do so! Wish me luck and success.
9) Any last words?
Yes. The Rum Family should be an example for the international spirits network, kindness, fair play. We don’t have to be all “very best friends“, but we should all respect each other. Our world is in moment changing so we should keep the very best of who we are, human beings–a family.
10) How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?