1902 Encyclopedia > Liqueurs


LIQUEURS are perfumed and sweetened spirits pre-pared for drinking, and for use as a flavouring material in confectionery and cookery. The term liqueur is also applied to certain wines and spirits remarkable for their amount of bouquet, such as tokay and liqueur brandy, &c. Ordinary liqueurs consist of certain mixtures of pure spirit with essential oils and vegetable extracts, and with syrup of refined sugar. A certain number of such prepara-tions have an established reputation ; but the methods by which these are compounded, and the precise proportions of the various ingredients they contain, are valuable trade secrets, scrupulously kept from public knowledge.

The raw materials employed in the preparation of liqueurs are—(1) a pure flavourless spirit, which must be free from fusel oil ; (2) various essential oils, on the purity and constant quality of which much of the success of the manufacture depends, or, in place of the oils, the aromatic substances from which they may be distilled ; (3) bitter aromatic vegetable substances, fruits, rinds, <fcc., or their alcoholic extracts called tinctures ; (4) fresh juicy fruits possessed of special flavour ; (5) refined sugar prepared in the form of a perfectly smooth colourless syrup ; (6) soft or distilled water ; and (7) tinctorial substances for those liqueurs in which a particular colour is demanded by fashion. The French, who excel in the preparation of liqueurs, grade their products according to their sweetness and alcoholic strength into crèmes, huiles, or baumes, which have a thick oily consistency, and eaux, extraits, or elixirs, which, being less sweetened, are perfectly limpid. Liqueurs of British fabrication, generally of inferior quality, are frequently dealt in under the name of cordials. Bitters form a class of liqueurs by themselves, claiming to possess certain tonic properties and a medicinal value. Certain liqueurs, containing only a single flavouring ingredient, or having a prevailing flavour of a particular substance, are named after that body, as for example—crème de rose, vanille, thé, cacao, anisette, and kummel, &c. On the other hand, the liqueurs which in general are most highly prized are compounded of very numerous aromatic prin-ciples, and they are not considered fit for use till they have matured and mellowed for several years.

The simplest method of preparing liqueurs is by adding the requisite proportion of essential oil to spirit of known strength, and then mixing this with the necessary amount of clear syrup. In this way, indeed, the greater number of the commoner and cheaper kinds are manufactured. Thus for making (say) 20 gallons inferior quality of kummel, there are added to 7 gallons of spirit of wine \ Tb of essential oil of caraway seed, 7| drachms of fennel-seed oil, and 15 drops of bitter almond oil. With this preparation is mixed a syrup containing 40 lb of refined sugar dissolved in about 12 gallons of water, and when fined with gelatine or with alum and soda solution the liqueur is ready for use. To prepare, on the other hand, 20 gallons of fine kùmmel liqueur, there would be placed in a simple still, with 10 gallons of spirit and 8 of water, 4 lb of caraway seeds, \ it) of fennel, and 2 oz. of Florentine iris root. This mixture after maceration is distilled, the first portion of the distillate being put aside on account of its rough aroma, after which about 8 gallons of fine kummel spirit is obtainable. There still may be procured, by forcing the heat, from 3 to 4 gallons of inferior spirit. To the 8 gallons of fine spirit is added a syrup consisting of 60 lb of refined sugar dissolved in 10 gallons of water, the two compounds being thoroughly incorporated with heat in an open vessel. On cooling, the amount of water necessary to make up 20 gallons is added; the liqueur is fined with isinglass, and stored to mature and mellow. All varieties of liqueurs may be made or imitated by both these methods ; but as a rule it is only the simple-flavoured and commoner varieties which are compounded by the addition of essential oils and alcoholic tinctures. Fine liqueurs are made by macerating aromatic bodies and subsequent distillation ; bitters by maceration and straining.

Of trade liqueurs the most highly esteemed in the United King-dom are Chartreuse, Curaçoa, Maraschino, and Doppel-Kiimmel or Allasch. Of all kinds the most famous is Chartreuse, so called from being made at the famous Carthusian monastery near Grenoble. Three qualities are made—green, yellow, and white, the green being the richest and most delicate in flavour. Chartreuse is said to be a most complex product, resulting from the maceration and distillation of balm leaves and tops as a principal ingredient, with orange peel, dried hyssop tops, peppermint, wormwood, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, mace, cloves, Tonquin beans, Calamus aromaticus, and cardamoms. Curaçoa, which is a simple liqueur, is chiefly made in Amsterdam from the dried peel of the Curaçoa orange. The peel is first softened by maceration in water ; then three-fourths of the quantity in preparation is distilled with mixed spirit and water, and the remaining fourth is macerated in a proportion of this distillate for two or three days ; the tincture is strained off and expressed and added to the original distilled Curaçoa spirit. The flavour of Curaçoa is improved by the addition of about one per cent, of Jamaica rum. The centre of the Maraschino trade is at Zara in Dalmatia. Genuine Maraschino is prepared from a variety of cherry—the Marasca—peculiar to the Dalmatian mountain regions. The juice of the cherry fermented and distilled yields the spirit, which is flavoured with the broken cherry kernels themselves. Imitations of Maraschino are easily prepared,—a praiseworthy liqueur resulting from raspberry juice, bitter almonds, and orange-flower water, in the preparation of Allasch—which is a rich Kûmmel—bitter almonds, star-anise, angelica root, Florentine iris root, and orange peel are used in addition to caraway seeds. Gold-water and silver-water are liqueurs to which small quantities of powdered gold-leaf and silver-leaf have been added, on account of their lustre. They are now little used.

Gentian root is the fundamental "bitter" in most of the pre-parations known as Bitters. These compounds, prepared by macer-ation, are very various in their constitution, but the following is a fair typical sample of the composition of a kind largely used. To prepare 20 gallons of hitters there are taken 6 lb of gentian, 5 lb each of cinnamon and caraway seeds, 1 lb of juniper berries, and J lb of cloves. These are macerated in 7 gallons of spirit, 60° over proof, strained and filtered, and to the product is added 10 lb of sugar dissolved in 13 gallons of water, and the resulting liquor is coloured with cochineal.

The following list includes the names of the principal commercial liqueurs not already named :—Noyeau (white and pink), trappistine (yellow and green) (from the Abbey de la Grâce Dieu), bénédictine (from Fecamp), peppermint liqueur, French cherry brandy or kirsebaer (from Copenhagen), mandarine, parfait amour, crème de vanille, crème de rose, thé, café, menthe, cacao, vanille, pomeranzen, ratafia (from Dantzic), anisette (from Amsterdam and Bordeaux), kirschenwasser (from Switzerland and the Black Forest),
absinthe, and vermouth. (J. PA. )

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