A creation called Jägermeister


A creation called Jägermeister

by Mark Swearengen
Stripes Okinawa

For those who love Jägermeister, there may be a deeper dimension, unknown to many, for further enjoyment of that dark liqueur from the deep forest-green bottles. Yes, many enjoy it as a digestive or taken ice-cold seconds before a meal to make the first bite even more wonderful.

Thinking beyond the simple pleasure of the drink, why not learn more to become a real Kenner (connoisseur)? When did it get started? Who developed it?  What makes it so good? Where did the name come from? What inspired  the Jägermeister emblem, featuring the red deer stag and glowing Christian cross between its antlers?  The drink has an interesting history, which can make for a great conversation starter when ordering rounds at the bar.

The maker of Jägermeister

Jägermeister was created by Curt Mast whose father, Wilhelm Mast, had operated a wine-trading and vinegar production company in Wolfenbüttel, Germany beginning in 1878.  

Son Curt, born in 1897, learned the business by helping and working with his father from an early age. He eventually took over operations from his father when he was 37.  Inspired by a passion for the creation and production of consumable spirits, Curt Mast developed a special recipe in 1934 for a new Kreuter Likör (herbal liqueur) unique in quality and taste. The drink quickly became popular when it hit the market.  

The liqueur’s manufacture follows a secret recipe using 56 different herbs, fruits, roots and spices from all over the world. The ingredients are steeped in alcohol and water for two to three days. The mixture is then stored in oak barrels for a year. Once aged, the liquid is mixed with caramel, sugar and alcohol and then subjected to nearly 400 quality checks before bottling.   

The Jägermeister company states that, contrary to a rumor circulated on the internet, the liqueur does not contain deer or elk blood.

Behind the name of Jägermeister

The word was not new. It had long been a name associated with hunt masters and game conservation managers. Curt Mast blended his passion for spirits with his love for hunting and wild game conservation which inspired the name for his new creation Jägermeister.  

History of  the Jägermeister emblem

It has its own story that lead Curt Mast to choose the stag with the cross for the Jägermeister label. History and legend tell of how Saint Eustachius, born Placidus, and Saint Hubertus became patrons of hunters following an experience of their own with a stag.   

The story of Saint Eustachius

A lasting story tells of a Roman general named Placidus in the second century. He was a pagan, an avid hunter of wild game, and a well-to-do officer serving under emperor Trajan.

One day while out with other hunters not far from Rome, a herd of Red Deer wandered into view. Suddenly a magnificent stag broke from the herd. Placidus told the other hunters to stay behind while he pursued the beautiful creature. 

The stag soon stopped and looked back at him. As Placidus came closer, he saw a glowing cross between the antlers of the stag. To his astonishment, the stag spoke and asked, “Placidus, why are you following me? I have come to you through this animal because I am Christ, whom you unknowingly honor.”  

Placidus was then told to go with his wife and two sons to the Bishop of Rome to be baptized. This he did at midnight of the same day, and upon baptism was given the name “Eustachius.”

In spite of many extreme calamities thereafter, Eustachius remained firm in his Christian faith. Saint Eustachius was honored in Rome in the eighth century as a guardian of hunters and foresters.

The story of Hubertus

There is also a more well-known story of Hubertus who lived in the seventh century. Eldest son of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine, Hubertus lived most of his adult years in the Ardennes area.   Ask any hunter or forester in Europe about Hubertus, and they will likely tell of him being a wasteful hunter who devoted his early passion entirely to wanton hunting, with almost no spiritual concern or awareness.    

On the morning of Good Friday, Hubertus was out hunting and encountered a stag with a glowing cross between its antlers.   A voice lectured him to change his ways regarding his lifestyle and his treatment of animals.   

He reoriented his life and eventually influenced many hunters to respect and honor the wild game they were hunting. His guidance remains a legacy and is still taught today in European hunter education courses.

Hubertus later studied for the priesthood and was ordained.  In the year 709 he became Bishop of Lüttich and Maastricht. To this day, Saint Hubertus is honored among European hunters as the originator of ethical hunting behavior. He is considered the patron saint of hunters.  

For centuries, the stag with the cross had been a symbol of remembrance of Saints Hubertus and Eustachius, as well as hunters’ respect for wild game. For Curt Mast, the image and name Jägermeister were an easy match, so he put them together. The drink remains popular to this day.

Where to see it produced and bottled

The Jägermeister factory is located in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, near Braunschweig in the state of Niedersachsen, and tours can be arranged by contacting their office. 

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