Much the same as some other alcoholic beverage, Liqueur has its own interesting history. Its history can be followed back to the 13th Century when it was made by Italian and French monks as a herbal cure. During these times, medicine consisted of herbs and flowers basically. The monks thenfound out that the herbs, flowers and spices can be preserved much longer when they are infused into alcohol instead of water. Who knew, that over time this practice would become a tasty drink to consume :) The very first Liqueur to ever be produced by these monks was “Chartreuse”. Holding on to its popularity till date and it’s the only liqueurs since then in this entire world to maintain its 100% natural green colour. Chartreuse is made from 130 different herbs and plants which are macerated in alcohol and steeped for around 8 hours, in the end maceration of those herbs and plants gives chartreuse its natural green colour. However chartreuse is available in yellow colour also which has different flavour profile than chartreuse green. Green has been bottled at 110 proof and has very intense herbal and floral notes with hints of citrus, cloves, rosemary, thyme and cinnamon wherein chartreuse yellow has been bottled at 86 proof and has honey, citrus and violet taste followed by anise, liquorice and saffron.
Today liqueurs are made from fruits, herbs, flowers, nuts and many other species. They are sweet in taste and are found in many different flavors, textures and characters. Even using chocolate, ginger, bananas, cinnamon, grapes and mangoes. You name the ingredient and you can a make a liqueur out of it. In the modern world, there are many liqueur brands from almost every part of the world and some are used for their aesthetic qualities and others used for digestive aid.
Popular methods used to produce liqueurs:
- Maceration: The maceration process can take as long as a year. It includes soaking the ingredients in the raw spirits until the spirit absorbs enoughflavours desired and then to add sugar components to achieve desired sweetness.
- Infusion: This method is actually quite similar to maceration but during this method the raw spirit is heated. This heat is taken care for few days and the result is a more flavourful This method takes comparably less time than maceration but it’s expensive of course.
- Distillation: This is a method of making liqueur in which the ingredients are dipped in alcohol, and the components are then heated to a boiling point that they vaporised and distilled to get the desiredproduct (We can say that this isthe maceration process taken a step further)
- Percolation: Thisis the most delicate method of producing liqueurs which can be done either hot or cold and it’s also known as steam distillation. Spirits are usually put into the bottom of the tank and fruitsare placed in a basketlike container at the top, The spirit is pumped over the basket / cloth bags repeatedly until the desiredflavour has been extracted from it.
The liqueur have been used since very longin many classic cocktails and it works as a flavouring agent in a drink.There are different types of liqueur that are classified according to the ingredients they are made from. Few famous categories of liqueur includes,
- Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueurs
- Sōmrus Indian Cream Liqueur
Fruit liqueurs –It is made from different fruits and berries.
- Joseph Cartron
- Grand Marnier
Herbal liqueurs– It is made from honey,flowers, plants and other herbal products.
Spices or Nut liqueurs – It is made from different nuts and spices.
Conclusion is Liqueurs are “Sweetened” alcoholic drinks and that makes them different from Spirits.