There’s a man from Hamburg, Germany, who became “infected” with the Harley-Davidson virus when he was a teenager. Many bikers can identify with that sentiment.
The “virus” can strike when you’re young and see a motorcycle for the first time, or later in life when you finally have enough money to buy your dream bike.
For Uwe Ehinger, the sickness compelled him to search high and low—in junkyards, people’s garages, and anywhere else he could find lost motorcycles—for Harley castoffs. What others considered junk, he saw as treasure. He started collecting these “relics” and became a motorcycle archaeologist. And what did he do with these old Harley-Davidson parts that no one else wanted? He built his own bikes and custom bike shop, Ehinger Kraftrad. Then in summer 2017 he used them to make gin. And it’s not supermarket gin—it’s top-shelf liquor.
Ehinger explains on his website, www.the-archaeologist. com, “Every time I make a find of rare bikes, I wonder how to use every single part–because they deserve to be preserved. That is where the idea for ‘The Archaeologist’ emerged: preserving the spirit of the old machines in an actual spirit and make it possible to experience the taste.” Heck, yeah!
He offers three kinds of gin, lovingly named The Flathead, The Knucklehead and The Panhead. The premium dry gin contains actual engine parts from Harley-Davidsons. It is safe to drink because all of the parts are washed and sealed in a tin alloy. The gin contains camshafts from a 1939 Flathead, screw-nuts from a 1947 Knucklehead, and rocker arms from a 1962 Panhead. Even the labels have a vintage feel—they were printed on a 1931 Heidelberg Tiegel printing press. The bottles themselves are wrapped in paper that describes the origin of the bike parts inside.
Ehinger’s obsession has taken him all the way to South America and South Korea to find motorcycles that need saving. He has been hunting them down for decades. In the 1980s, he scored several 1939 Flatheads while combing through a garage that stored decommissioned bikes formerly used by the Mexican military. While traveling through Santiago, Chile, he found a rare, blue 1947 HD FL. The coolest part? It was previously owned by a German pharmacist who used it to deliver his prescriptions. In South Korea, he found a meticulously organized motorcycle graveyard filled with unwanted bikes, including a 1962 Panhead.
The price of the gin is a little steep. Bottles cost between $1,000 and $1,280. The gin is so popular, the limited run sold out online within hours of its release. If you’re still interested, the company is taking advance orders for the next edition.
(Originally published in MotorSpirit magazine)