The traditional method of consuming Jägermeister in countless pubs and bars around the globe?
Chill down to -18 deg C, pour into a frozen shot glass and throw back, wait, enjoy… But that’s not the only way and the Jägermeister team have a worldwide mission to promote the variety of different ways in which Jägermeister can be served. But first one has to understand the product itself.
And so our party finds itself in the home of Jägermeister – Wolfenbüttel in Germany, near Hanover, taking a closer look at this intriguing herbal liqueur.
With sales of seven million cases a year, Jägermeister’s biggest markets lie in the Northern US (38% of sales), Western Europe (25%) and Germany itself (22%).
Jägermeister sits in eighth place in Impact’s Top Premium Spirits league for international premium spirits brands, making it the biggest-selling liqueur brand in the world and it all begins here in Wolfenbüttel.
The enthusiasm of the mixologists in our party feels palpable – the continuous click and snap of photos (where permitted), videos viewed and tweets tweeted alongside multifarious facebook postings provide an aural and visual backdrop to our two-day trip to both the Wolfenbüttel plant and a subsequent study tour of some bars in Berlin.
Wolfenbüttel’s maceration plant
Mast-Jägermeister SE, the traditional family business (which remains privately-owned to this day), produces 35% ABV Jägermeister and our plant guide reminds us that it undergoes 383 quality checks before being released.
The Wolfenbüttel plant macerates alcohol with 56 different herbs, blossoms, roots and fruits from all around the world over a period of six weeks to extract the flavours and produce a set of four differing macerates. The Master Distillers then mix the different macerates, blending them before resting the result for one year in around 400 mighty oak casks in the Wolfenbüttel cellars.
Here, the macerates can ‘breathe’ more harmoniously.
The complete ingredients list remains a closely-guarded secret but results in a cask-strength spirit of 52% ABV subsequently reduced through enrichment with pure water, carmelised and liquid sugar.
Our guide offers us a taste of this Jägermeister ‘base’ but only Opium’s Marius Costel bravely steps forward to sample it, pronouncing it fairly bitter with sweet notes.
But apart from the care that goest into producing its distinctive taste, what makes Jägermeister such a global phenomenon can be seen in its strategic brand-building through its innovative marketing drive.
The brand continues to make a name for itself at festivals, concerts and other events – thus familiarising Jägermeister with its target consumers.
And Jägermeister has employed fairly innovative marketing concepts in its time, some of them productively controversial…
For example it became the first brand to sponsor a soccer team’s jerseys when it put the Jägermeister deer logo on the shirts of local team Eintracht Braunschweig.
Off the ball
This didn’t sit well with the German Football Association who insisisted that only team logos could be used on the shirts. Cue Eintracht Braunschweig changing their own logo to that of Jägermeister. Problem solved.
Jägermeister also became the first to advertise at an international soccer ground. In 1970, during the Mexico World Cup, Jägermeister appeared on hoardings around the soccer stadium for the first time during the games with German participation.
Back then, board advertising was a hot topic as was the broadcasting of sponsored soccer games.
During the Quarter Finals of the European championship at Wembley in ‘72, debate raged as to whether the game should be broadcast at all. Delays resulted from some remaining unconvinced. Then, Jägermeister short-circuited discussions by buying up all advertising boards around the ground but leaving them blank.
The broadcast went ahead and to all those who questioned the blank white canvases during the game there was only one answer – “That was Jägermeister” – publicity, as the saying goes, you couldn’t buy….
The ‘80s witnessed much more below-the-line marketing activity with the launch of the ‘Jägermeister Jägerettes’ offering customers samples in pubs and bars to considerable admiration and publicity.
Lately, the Jägermeister Brass Band – tatatooed trumpeters and funky female drummers in tutus – has been making a growing name for itself globally, appearing at music festivals and even supporting Scooter on a recent tour.
Jägermeister very much believes in on-trade promotions too and has been particularly successful with its high-profile on-trade Jägermeister Tap Machine – the first of its kind in the industry – of which over 130,000 now pour around the world.
All this feels a lot to take in so to help digest what we’ve learned, Jägermeister organises a trip to some of Berlin’s best bars the night after our tutorial stopover in Jägermeister’s own purpose-built Lodge in Wolfenbüttel.
Berlin’s bars serve up Jägermeister at the perfect -18 deg C temperature which – with 18 such Jägermeisters being ordered for our party of 18 – engenders considerable interest from other customers who seem perfectly familiar with the drink whether in a shot or a more contemporary cocktail formats of which there seems an infinite variety.
Tweets having been tweeted and facebook statuses suitably updated with all that’s Jägermeister, we make our way home with a newly-informed attitude to this drink, one that leaves it wide open to new interpretations and presentations in the bar.
At the airport, I hastily thank former BAI President Declan Byrne for safely stowing my Jägermeister fruit cocktail chopping knife in his his suitcase – away from the prying eyes of the X-Ray over our hand luggage – in return for my substituting a more flattering profile picture of him on the Drinks Industsry Ireland website…