The foundation of the Palírna U Zeleného stromu (The Green Tree Distillery) dates back to 4th July 1518, when Vilém of Pernštejn granted the brewing rights to thirty-one building owners in Prostějov.
The history of the oldest European distillery started on 4th July 1518, when Vilém of Pernštejn and Helfštýn granted the brewing rights to thirty-one landlords in Prostějov. Among those selected was also the owner of the building At Green Tree, gamekeeper Jež from Seloutky. At the beginning, mainly beer was brewed. Jež’s successor, Jan Chytrovský, invested in upgrading the malt house and the brewery room.
The Green Tree Distillery was joined by a businessman and a baker Pavel Zoubek, under whose management the best spirits in the whole region were produced.
Karel of Liechtenstein upgraded distillery’s brewing rights, granted them a monopoly on distillation and brewing spirits. Thanks to these privileges, the quality of production increased and Prostějov soon became famous as the town where the best spirits in Bohemia are made.
The hard times, however, followed. During the Thirty-year War, the distillery was almost closed down as it was severely affected by a shortage of raw materials and plundered by soldiers.
Another grim year not only for the distillery but also for the town as Prostějov that was hit by the most destructive fire in its history. After it broke out, a half of the town burnt down. At Green Tree building however miraculously survived undamaged. It was also a year when a recession kicked in.
The distillery started to flourish again under the ownership of Mr Storch from Markvartice. Originally a pharmacist, Mr Storch began to experiment with herbs and spices like fennel, anise, mint and others, adding them to the yeast, producing brand new liqueurs. You can enjoy his distillery art forms even today while tasting some of the spirits, which are nowadays considered as “traditional” recipes.
Period of boom and prosperity. The total production of spirits reached more than 11,000 hectolitres and Prostějov becomes the number one distillery town in Moravia.
The distillery is bought by a new owner, Jakub Vojáček, and then managed by his son, Oskar. During their management, the production reached its peak. The period of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was not, however, kind to the distillery. Prostějov was considered politically unreliable and Vojáček’s patriotic descendants faced persecution.
While Jakub Vojáček continues working on the development and enhancements of his distillery in Prostějov, just 350 km from there, in the region of former Brezno, Mr Ludwig Bramsch and Louis Eckelmann developed new unique ways to produce bakery yeasts. This was a ground-breaking innovation at that time.
The company named “Bramsch and Eckelmann – production of spirits, compressed yeasts and liqueurs” was registered in Krasné Březno on the 15th of March. It became the first company in Bohemia specialising in the production of bakery yeast.
Company name change
The company was then renamed to “Factory for spirits and compressed yeast, Ltd., originally Eckelmann brothers” under the management of Fritz Wolfrum, who is considered as one of the most important industrialists and entrepreneurs from the beginning of the 20th century in the region.
The Prostějov municipality agrees to incorporate the former Vojáček distillery into the much larger “Cooperative company of innkeepers”. This enables a rapid modernisation which of the production and further development. Soon after that, the company achieves its record – what was then considered – a truly astronomical turnover.
The period during the Second World War was critical again, not very positive for the distillery and spirit rations had to be introduced. The company tried to cover the shortage of spirits by increased production of soda water and soft drinks. But the Gestapo accused the distillery that it has illegally concealed stocks of spirits The Green Tree Distillery was occupied and searched. Thanks to the bravery and courage of all its employees, the search hasn’t exposed any evidence of wrongdoing, and distillery survived.
In this year, the “Factory for spirits and compressed yeasts, Ltd., originally Ecklemann brothers” was nationalised and it began to operate as a national enterprise from September.
The further fate of factory was shaped by the political events of 25th February 1948. The so-called “The February victory of working people” also impacted the future of the Cooperative Company of Innkeepers in Prostějov. In late 1948, The Green Tree Distillery was soon nationalised too. It became subordinated under the Olomouc headquarters, which renamed the formerly independent company to “Starorežná Prostějov”.
The company takes over the production of the branded export liqueur L.V. Griotte and the herbal liqueur Nuncius, which at that time were exported to the Western Europe. Due to a capacity expansion, it moves its operations to the Binko brewery.
Despite the central communist leadership, the company maintained the top quality standards and it received several awards as an acknowledgement for the superiority of its products.
Following on the fall of the Soviet Union era, the company’s name and structure changed again. First, it was separated from the then national enterprise “Canneries and Yeasts plants” and ten renamed as “KB liquor Usti nad Labem”. Shortly after, it was formally transformed into a joint stock company.
The post-revolutionary period brings major changes even to Starorežná Prostějov, and the factory is privatised. At the time, it made an impressive 60 different types of spirits with a total production of 13 million litres.
KB liquor becomes the production plant under the management the joint stock company “Drinks Union a.s.”, and it successfully continues to produce quality spirits.
The company is separated from “Drinks Union a.s.” and a new entity, “GRANETTE a.s.” is founded.
Starorežná Prostějov joins the distillery GRANETTE a.s. in Ústí nad Labem and a newly formed enterprise, GRANETTE&STAROREŽNÁ Distilleries a.s., becomes the largest domestic producer of spirits with purely Czech capital. It is one of the most significant and successful companies in the Czech republic.
The company revert back to its original name from 1518, the “The Green Tree Distillery, a.s.”, connecting with its famous history and tradition that dates back nearly 500 years
Green Tree Distillery is the oldest distillery in Europe. In 2018 we celebrate exactly 500 years since its founding. This exceptional event underlines the fact that the company remained even after so many years in the hands of Czech owners.
Our distillery has been working since 1518 and is the oldest distillery in Europe continuing in the Prostějov tradition and using knowledge and experience gained for almost 500 years of spirits production. We have been successfully producing spirits in the Czech lands since 1518 respecting the tradition of The Green Tree Distillery. We know the trends in our customers’ behaviour and spirits consumption opportunities very well. We bring joy to our customers and meet their needs and lifestyle values all around the world.
We are a direct successor of the Czech liquor distilleries KB likér and Starorežná Prostějov (2011 – 2016 GRANETTE&STAROREŽNÁ Distilleries a.s.). We follow the rich tradition of both leading Czech traditional spirits producers. In the company production portfolio there are brands such as Stará myslivecká, BLEND 42 VODKA, Hanácká vodka, Starorežná, Vaječný sen, Royal, genuine fruit spirits of The Green Tree Distillery and other more than one hundred brands and products.
We are a Czech company with global distribution and the second position on the Czech market of alcoholic drinks. We are building our brands distribution both in the Czech Republic and abroad as Czech ones.
With the annual production volume of 120 thousand hectolitres of spirits we are the second on the Czech market but number one Czech spirits producer. We are successful not only in the Czech Republic. The products of our The Green Tree Distillery a.s. are available in other twenty countries on the five world continents.
The values we share are
- 500 year-old tradition of alcohol production for reasonable drinking at social events
- Czech origin – Czech sociability – Czech tenaciousness – Czech wit
- Love to our work and our brands and depending on it we behave
- Genuine loyalty – genuine expertise – genuine professionalism – genuine creativity
- To manage means to control, to control means to know, to know means to measure
- always better for the second time