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Liqueurs: A quick guide

Liqueur – Origins

Monks making Chartreuse

Monks making Chartreuse

Liqueur, which comes from the Latin “liquifacere” meaning to liquify, dissolve or melt. Liqueurs may also be called schnapps or cordials in some parts of the world and can often be confused with “liquor”, which is the American English for what we refer to as spirits (gin, vodka, rum etc).
Liqueurs are amongst the oldest category of alcoholic beverages, notable historic brands include Chartreuse (1737) and Frangelico (whilst it’s official brand creation was in the 70s its recipe claims to have a 300-year old heritage).

Liqueur – The Rules

Liqueurs are a tightly regulated market in the UK and EU. As a minimum, they must be based on a spirit of agricultural origin, contain at least 100 grams of sugar per litre, have an alcoholic content of at least 15% and be flavoured with nature-identical substances.
As stated previously, those are the minimums, certain flavours or types of liqueurs come with even more rules; a “créme” liqueur must have at least 250 grams of sugar per litre and a créme de cassis must have 400 grams and it must be made by using actual blackcurrants, not flavourings or extracts.
That’s just a small insight into the world of liqueurs, the full document of rules are over 30 pages along.

Liqueur – Creation

Maceration

Our Raspberry Liqueur in production

Liqueurs are generally made via percolation, distillation or maceration. Percolation is the process of the alcohol dripping through the flavouring agent (think, coffee), maceration is where the ingredients are rested in high-proof alcohol for an extended period of time (which is what we do, for 3-6 months), distillation involves a short maceration period followed by distillation (a process involving heat to separate alcoholic components from non-alcoholic) which will result in a colourless liquid (créme de cacao).
Once our fruit is ripe, we pick them as quickly as possible and freeze the fruit (as we might not need the fruit right away) and macerate in large vats of 96% alcohol (which costs an eye-watering £40 per litre) for at least four months. We don’t use any heat or any flavourings/additives/colourings in our liqueurs, it’s all about our carefully tried and tested methods, long maceration periods and the sheer volume of fruit we use (on average, a quarter pound of fruit will go into making a 350ml bottle).

Liqueur – Uses

As many liqueurs have a lower alcohol content, more the case for fruit liqueurs, they have a much wider range of uses, which include but are not limited to:

In cooking

Haut Maison’s liqueurs are perfect in desserts (check out this recipe by local chef, Alisha Mahy); simply drizzled over ice cream or as part of a dish like a créme brulée.

As a sipper

Liqueurs are great as an after-dinner sipper, why not try our Espresso Vodka as an alternative to after-dinner coffee?

In cocktails

Arguably liqueurs most important role. Many of the world’s greatest cocktails use liqueurs as a flavour enhancer – so important they are, that St Germain Elderflower Liqueur has earned its nickname “bartender’s ketchup” in the industry.

As a low-alcohol mixed drink

Want to reduce your alcohol intake slightly? Why not swap a boozy gin and tonic for a raspberry liqueur and tonic? Many liqueurs have half the alcoholic content of spirits like gin or vodka, perfect if you want to tone down the alcohol a bit without completely abstaining.

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