Oliver Matter

From E. Luginbühl-Bögli Aarberg to Matter-Luginbühl AG Kallnach
The original product of present-day Matter-Luginbühl AG is Martinazzi Bitter. This Italian bitter was first produced in 1864 in Turin. In 1928, company founder Ernst Luginbühl-Bögli from Aarberg bought the recipe for the production of Martinazzi in Switzerland. Thus, the first Swiss bitter aperitif was produced.
At the international exhibition in 1934 in Chicago, his Martinazzi Bitter received high international acclaim. For legal reasons, the drink had to be sold under the name “Will Tell“. (The company founder also sent his 18-year-old daughter to Chicago with the ulterior motive that her liaison with a teacher would end. His plan worked and she later married a doctor.)
From 2nd May to 27th July, the so-called exhibition train made a second journey across Switzerland. On this tour, the companies presenting their goods included Wander, with an Ovomaltine bar. Luginbühl-Bögli received its guests in a Martinazzi bar. This travelling exhibition existed under the motto, “buying Swiss goods means creating jobs”. This is a slogan that lives on even today! In Kreuzlingen, the well-known herbalist priest Joh. Künzli visited the Martinazzi bar and afterwards wrote in the diary: “Martinazzi is very healthy “. And at every stop on the train, the station master wrote a short inscription in the bar diary. This contemporary document still exists today and can be viewed in the distillery in Kallnach.
In 1947, Ernst Luginbühl-Bögli bought the Löhr farm, near Seedorf, in the canton of Bern. Here, he grew an old variety of plum for the distillery – which at that time was an almost forgotten fruit in the Berner Seeland area – and he named the fruit “Löhrpflümli”. Today, this plum can be found in Austria and Germany, where it is highly regarded as an especially fine and sweet distilling plum. Among the liquor distillers of Europe, the Löhrpflümli now enjoys the reputation of being one of the best. He expanded the farm in Löhr into a model farm, which became famous across Switzerland for its first class livestock. In the “Löhrstube“, he entertained his visitors and friends, including former Swiss federal councillor Rudolf Minger. Many business deals were done here over a glass of Martinazzi.

At the end of the 50s, E. Luginbühl-Bögli Aarberg (ELBA) was handed over to the 2nd generation, to the two sons Paul and Hans. From this, the company E. Luginbühl-Bögli & Sons, Aarberg was born. However, company founder Ernst Luginbühl continued to help out and supported his sons until his death in 1969.
In the 3rd generation, the company – comprising the farm, restaurant, distillery and shop with wine store – was divided up. Although in fact nobody wanted to continue the liquor distillery, Elsbeth (granddaughter) and Christian Matter-Luginbühl agreed in 1985 to take over the distillery with its longstanding employees. In 1990, their son Oliver joined the company and in 1996, the distillery was moved from Aarberg to Kallnach. In 2006, the company was handed over to the son, Oliver Matter. He and his wife Nicole are now taking the Matter-Luginbühl AG adventure distillery into the 4th generation. The adventure distillery continues to produce the traditional specialities, single-variety brandies, the Martinazzi aperitifs (we are now the only distillery in the world to produce the “Italian from Seeland”) and absinthes. In the in-house restaurant, Martinazzi’s Fine Cuisine, culinary delights are also available and there are regular cultural events. Groups can attend an absinthe distilling course or visit the distillery. (After the absinthe ban in Switzerland of almost 100 years, the Swiss federal council made vermouth schnaps equal to other spirits and legalised absinthe as of 1st March 2005.)
Since this time, Oliver Matter has specialised in the reproduction of old absinthe recipes. The first absinthe from Matter-Luginbühl AG was Kallnacher Absinthe.

Great grandfather Ernst Luginbühl-Bögli gained the recipe for this in a strange bartering agreement with a farmer from Val de Travers. Through his hobby of breeding livestock, it happened that he traded a highly prize-winning cow for gold watches for his daughter and daughter-in-law with a watchmaker and livestock breeder in Jura. In such a transaction, an original absinthe recipe from Val-de-Travers was traded into the purchase price, although the law completely prevented him from using it. It is only now that the value of this transaction can really be seen.
This product had only just come onto the marked, when we gained interesting contact with two dealers from abroad – Absinthvertrieb Lion from Germany and Liqueurs de France from England.
In conjunction with Markus Lion, Oliver Matter developed the Absinthe Duplais series, comprising Verte, Blanche and Balance. In 2006, the quality of these products convinced several professional juries, which resulted in the Matter/Lion team winning the gold medal with the best in class appraisal from the International Wine and Spirits Competition, as well as being selected as the absinthe of the year by the Swiss schnaps forum. In Germany, Absinthe Duplais Verte is in number 1 position in the brand catalogue.
The first Absinthe Brevans from the new absinthe series has been available since the beginning of May this year. In the new series too, the labels have been designed by international artists. For the first Brevans labels, we were able to win famous Swiss artist H. R. Giger, who provided us with one of his best known works. Brain Salad Surgery II was created in 1973 and was originally used for the Emerson Lake & Palmer album of the same name. It radiates a unique, fascinating tranquillity, which drew us into its spell from the first time we saw it.
At a meeting with musician Marilyn Manson in 2005, Absinthvertrieb suggested developing an brand absinthe for Manson. Oliver Matter sent numerous samples to California for Manson’s comments. The final recipe for Mansinthe was decided in April 2007.
In June 2007, Mansinthe was initially made available to a small group in the form of Prototype 35 and as a limited special edition. On Friday 13th July 2007, the contract with Marilyn Manson was signed and production was able to begin.
From the outset, the aim was a classic absinthe distilled from herbs, with no artificial colouring and no sugar; a product that absinthe-lovers can appreciate but which primarily appeals to novices. With this absinthe, the successful partnership of Absinthvertrieb Lion & Matter-Luginbühl AG has clearly proven that it is possible to produce an outstanding absinthe and to sell it around the world even for a small amount of money.
New, interesting projects with international artists are already in the pipeline.