Dujardin spirits

Some advertising slogans exist for decades. Whether it is Persil, BMW, Toyota or l'Oréal – they have all produced quotes that have been in existence for years. One such slogan was created in a suburb that is now part of Krefeld, in the Lower Rhine region. There are numerous legends surrounding the way this particular slogan came into being. Matthias Melcher told us his favourite one: "The marketing specialists spent two hard weeks racking their brains for a good strap-line. When they finally came up with one that appealed to all those concerned, one of them expressed his relief by saying: 'I'll drink to that – Mine's a Dujardin'". If this story should really be true, nobody can now remember what the strap-line was that everyone agreed on after such a wearying brainstorming marathon. That spontaneous expression of relief, however, then took the German marketing industry by storm and became the slogan that became embedded in every German's subconscious. The home of that alcoholic spirit is Uerdingen, which is now a suburb of Krefeld, renowned for its velvet and silk. After the end of World War II, Dujardin was a household name. The company had its own customs station and even its own ocean-going ship, the M.S. Imperial. Dujardin was part of Uerdingen and Uerdingen was part of Dujardin, in the same way that Bayer is associated with Leverkusen or Cadbury's with Bournville. The company expanded so fast that even the vicar's house had to make way for it.

But that is a long time ago. Even today, beside the Rhine, just opposite the city of Duisburg, the ruins of the old global player's factory buildings bear witness to their status. By investing considerable amounts of money, personal commitment and a love of detail, Matthias Melcher and his family have restored the factory and its enormous stills. They feel they owe it to the heritage of Henricus Melcher. The "Farmer and distiller" was first mentioned in official documents in 1742. He distilled grain brandy (called Korn) for the farmers around Uerdingen. In 1810, during the Napoleonic occupation, the company was officially founded. Since the founding family had close connections to a French owner of a vineyard, the Dujardin family, and because right up to the start of World War I anything French was considered to be chic, they renamed the company accordingly. "For some decades we were really fashionable and operated the largest brandy distillery in the country", Melcher explains.

But tastes changed. "Spirits began to go out of fashion and brandy no longer appealed to the tastes of that time." At the beginning of the 1970s, the rot set in and the company quickly shrank. Partnerships with other businesses in the trade fell apart. At the start of the "noughties", Dujardin had neither production nor storage facilities. It was at this time that Matthias Melcher returned from the USA where he had been working for some years in his profession as a film director and IT specialist. He had been responsible for the special effects in the box office hit "Titanic", for example. But when he received the call from Uerdingen, he turned his back on Hollywood. "At that time, my father explained that he felt too old to continue the business." So the son took the helm and the company of Schwarze & Schlichte took on the manufacture and distribution of the products. The proprietary rights to the names "Dujardin", "Uerdinger" etc. remain with the Melcher family. The new Dujardin Fine, for example, is advertised as a "Cognac of the finest VSOP quality", which is apparently the result of many years' finishing in casks. "Its extremely smooth, gentle flavour can be enjoyed in many situations. Either neat as the classic version, or on the rocks or as a component in modern cocktails." The product simply called "Uerdinger" is a "delicately spicy 'Doppelwacholder' gin from the Lower Rhine", a natural product that is noted for its mild flavour. According to the manufacturer, it is still produced today in line with the old family recipe, handed down through the years, using hand-picked juniper berries and distilled with care.

The historical buildings, including the distillery, are available as function rooms, there is a restaurant and a beer garden on the site. Guided tours are also offered on a regular basis. The one-time factory, only a stone's throw from the river Rhine, is a popular destination for ramblers, clubs and institutions, not only those from the Lower Rhine. A visit is often found to be an unforgettable experience. "We aim to keep this piece of industrial and family history alive", says Matthias Melcher, who represents the ninth generation since Henricus. They can, after all, look back over more than 200 years. It is, therefore, understandable that the 200th anniversary was celebrated in an appropriate manner in September 2010. Unfortunately, nobody kept a record of how many times someone said "Mine's a Dujardin" on that occasion.

M. Melcher GmbH
Hohenbudberger Strasse 10
47829 Krefeld

Phone: +49 2151 4832-0
Fax: +49 2151 4832-38


As of 2016