P. Melchers Distillery – Our History
Distilleries in Holland
At several places in The Netherlands but in particular the city of Schiedam already in the late 16th century small scale distillation of “Aquae Vitae” was being made. Note of this was made in 1588 by the Rev Coolhaes from the city of Leiden. As written down by Rev Coolhaes then used basis were gone bad wine, ale and fruits with, strange enough, grains as substitute. Along the way experience gained and changed the distillations into specialized craftsmanship. Holland at that time was the storehouse for grains in Europe. This combined with the technical skills of the distillers in Schiedam gave already soon renowned products. At a certain point there were around 400 distilleries located in Schiedam!
In the year 1837 PETRUS MELCHERS the founder of our company bought an existing distillery and managed with his excellent knowledge and craftsmanship to establish within a short period of time a solid place in the national market as well as overseas. The malt liquor made by Petrus Melchers in those days was already made with the finest high quality ingredients and refined by potstill-distallations to obtain the sincere Dutch Genever with many brands like “Castle” and “Juniper Tree”.
These particular brands were one of the main export products sold to the United States of America. Turnover rose and production increased rapidly which led to make the decision of building a new factory at the “Nieuwe Haven” in Schiedam named NEW-YORK.
Beside the successful export to North-America Petrus Melchers continued expanding sales of its high quality spirits to companies in South-America, Africa and Australia. Eventually after many years of growing business and flourishing export the founder of the company died in the year 1888 leaving the company to his son M.J. MELCHERS and the old mayor of Schiedam M.L. HONNERLAGE GRETE. Both enjoyed a great working relationship and with combining their forces creating new markets with a thorough focus on the Dutch local consumers they managed to overcome lost production for overseas export markets.
Continuing a family tradition
Soon brands like “Locomotief” Grain Genever and “Kasteel 1837” very fine old Genever were enjoyed among the local population. Part of the success is beside the team-work also the typical way of triple distillation + 1 potstill and the storage in underground maturation vessels. This way a continuous quality was guaranteed.
Due to several economical and practical reasons in 1910 P. Melchers Distilleries moved from the New-York building to the still existing buildings on the Lange Haven also in Schiedam.
M.J. Melchers was succeeded after his death by his son Lambert Melchers in 1936 continuing after they already had a fruitful co-operation the years before. Surviving both world wars the company regained gradually their export markets using appointed agents in Europe, West-Africa, South-America and the former Dutch Colonies. In the 1970 Lambert Melchers assisted by his son Rein Melchers handed over the distillery to the Vonk family. The Vonk brothers continued with hard working to create new brands and products establishing new markets.
New Export Offices
Since 1985 new export offices were opened in the village of Nijkerk and from the 1st. of June 2003 the company moved its export offices and warehouse to Lelystad. The old distillery at the “Lange Haven” has been renovated in 1994 in the authentic style and is now being used as the National Dutch Distillery Museum, complete with the authentic distillery and pot-stills. The present chairman of the holding Pieter A. Vonk Sr., who has a lifetime experience in the alcoholic beverage industry, since 1997 being assisted by his son Pieter A. Vonk Jr. continuing P. Melchers Distilleries BV to remain a family owned company.