No diversion for the senses
Of course, METRO employees wanted to get to know the spirits that were stocking their shelves and asked about the having a "free degustation", according to the documents contained in his green folder. "We always had our tastings in the next room – and we still do," he says. He then whips out the key to the room and opens the door. But this is hardly the setting for a big bash. It looks more suitable for lab work. A round table is standing in the middle of the room. It is set for eight people. But not with plates, knives and forks. Rather with more than a half-dozen schnapps glasses at each place. The glasses are filled half way with a dark liquid. Several water glasses have been set up next to them. A questionnaire has also been placed at each setting. Testers can use it to describe how the beverages tasted to them. Underberg presses a button, and partitions arise from the tabletop – now, no one can see what the person sitting next to him or her has written on the form. After Underberg has quietly lowered the shutters, the room grows dark, and the senses have nothing to divert them. Full attention can be directed to the beverages about to be tasted.
Underberg quickly puts everything back into place and closes the door to the tasting room. He does not want to divulge too much about the practices of a company that has been in business since 1846. But he willingly lets his guest leaf through correspondence conducted between his company and METRO. One thing becomes clear in the process: Dittmann may have indeed been a "one tough customer" during negotiations. But Emil Underberg was also pretty sly himself: "In the early years, I was promised that no other maker of herbal digestives would be sold by METRO," he says – with a smile.