All About Liqueurs

Liqueurs are one of the most common ingredients in many beloved cocktails, adding flavours to the drinks that normal spirits/liquors just cannot compete with. If you’re unfamiliar with what liqueurs are, their history, and how they’re made, then read on and we’ll tell you all about them.

Chartreuse

Liqueurs first started off in 13th century Italy, prepared by monks as a herbal medicine. The practice spread across Europe. One recipe from France became so widespread that it’s still a popular liqueur to this day, and is called Chartreuse. As trade routes began to open, and more and more discovered the power of distilling various herbs and spices in spirits/liquors, increasing varieties and flavours of liqueurs were created. These were still used to treat various ailments, and it wasn’t until the French Queen Catherine de Medici that liqueurs became more commonly known as a fashionable drink.

To make liqueurs, you first have to understand what makes them different from liquors/spirits. There are two main things that separate liquors and liqueurs, the first is alcohol by volume percentage, with liquors being almost double that of liqueurs. The second one is that liqueurs must have added sweetness to be called a liqueur, whilst liquors don’t. By legal definition, a liqueur is required to have at least 100g per litre of added sugar or flavourings to be classified and sold as a liqueur.

 

maceration

There are four methods to infuse liqueurs with the desired flavours: these are maceration, distillation, infusion, and percolation. The one we use for our liqueurs at Fruity Tipples is maceration, so let’s go into detail about what maceration is.

Maceration involves soaking the raw ingredients, for us that’s fruit, in distilled alcohol for anywhere from days to years. This resulting liquid is called a tincture and will only be labelled as a liqueur when sweetener is added. For our liqueurs, we let the fruit macerate with vodka for between 3-6 months depending on which flavour of liqueur is being produced.

Infusion is a very similar process to maceration; however, the raw ingredients and distilled alcohol are heated as they infuse. This helps speed up how quickly the alcohol absorbs the flavours. Because the process is cheaper and faster than maceration, it tends to produce cheaper liqueurs.

And there you have it! That’s how liqueurs are made, and more specifically, that’s how we produce our liqueurs.

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