Local Food Stories


With medical care

Gin House Brugger
#gin #spirits #switzerland

For some time Dr Robin Brugger had played with the idea of distilling his own gin. The ball was set rolling in 2016 when during a night shift he came across the offer of a mini-distillation unit for home use. Together with a colleague he went about attempting to make his first gin. “It was a flop all the way down the line,” Brugger recalls with a laugh. The bottle containing this distillate is still almost full in his cupboard today – as a memorial to bad distilling.

Various further training courses

Despite that failed attempt he was not put off. Firstly he attended several courses with master distillers in Austria. Then due to his career path he went to live in England for a few months and used this time to expand his knowledge about gin. “In the process I benefited in particular by the fact that in England each plant is typically distilled individually and only blended with other plant extracts at the final stage,” says Brugger. In this way he learned how to play with the composition of individual components of a good gin from scratch.
Back in Switzerland he could forget about distilling with his small still. The law had changed and distilling high-proof beverages without a license was no longer permitted, even for private consumption.
Brugger therefore had to look for a contract distillery. “That wasn’t an easy task. Until I found the right partner company, I poured away several liters of gin,” says Robin Brugger. However now he has found a company near Basel that meets his requirements and distills his house blends.

With two gin varieties at the start

There are currently two gins in Robins Brugger’s range: DOC Gin (a London Dry Gin) and Isle of Spine Gin (Navy Strength). The visual recognition feature of the two bottles is the structure of the label, “The design is just like that of a doctor’s prescription here in Switzerland.” In addition, Brugger skillfully plays with the names of his products. At first glance the “DOC” reminds one of the designation of origin-controlled products. In this case, however, the abbreviation stands for the producer’s profession.
His second gin is the result of a commission from his former employer. The hospital where Robin Brugger worked at the time wanted a unique gift for visiting doctors who worked in the orthopedics department. So the head physician asked Robin Brugger if he could create an appropriate gin as a souvenir. This story is reflected in the name of this gin. The employer was the Inselspital (island hospital) and the department where he worked was spinal orthopedics. Island, spine and gin – “Isle of Spine” sums it up.

Bringing everything under one hat

In addition to these two gin varieties, Robin Brugger is always tinkering with new and seasonal blends. The biggest problem is time. As senior physician long workdays at the hospital don’t leave much room for developing new things. Adding to this detail he has just become a father a few weeks ago. Yet he looks positively to the future, “My gin is mainly sold by word-of-mouth.” And it is stocked by some restaurants and bars. He soon plans to reduce his workload a little so he can slowly but steadily advance his gin production. The chances are good that he will succeed, after all he has managed to live his dream in the past few years. And there’s nothing wrong with a doctor who doesn’t just use alcohol as a disinfectant!