Basics of liqueur making part 2

Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient


The other alcohol bases used in liqueur making are brandy, cognac, Irish or American whiskey, scotch and rum. These all have pronounced tastes of their own and are frequently used with vodka or pure grain alcohol to add their special flavor. Choose them with care and use them sparingly.

Basic brandy is distilled from fermented grape juices. Some brandies are made from other fruits. Avoid fruit-flavored brandies in liqueur making, as they will compete with your flavorings. Choose a good tasting brandy, but avoid the rare, aged and costly brandies which should be enjoyed on their own. Cognac is a very fine French brandy which derives its name from the area where the wine grapes it is made from are grown, Cognac France.

You may, of course, substitute any brandy for cognac, but when we recommend cognac it is for a superiour liqueur.

Whiskey, or whisky as the Scottish and Canadian versions are spelled, is almost as varied in taste as rum. American whiskey is generally distilled from rye, wheat or corn. Irish whiskey and Scotch (short for Scottish whiskey) are usually made from malted barley. We have found it best to use Irish whiskey in a traditional Irish liqueur such as Irish Cream, for more authentic flavor. Wherever this is important, we have indicated it; if not indicated, use a whiskey that is pleasing to your taste.

Rum are distilled from sugar and molasses. Most are made in tropical countries where the sugarcane grows, most notably the Caribbean. The lighter colored, lighter bodied Puerto Rican or Barbados rums work well. The Jamaican rums are heavier and sweeter. Take care to match the rum to the type of liqueur. Our best advice is to choose a rum that you find smooth and pleasing.

Fresh fruits are the most delicate ingredients in liqueur making. It does make a difference whether the fruits are picked at peak of their season or are the last stragglers. There really is no substitute for fresh fruit. Sometimes frozen fruit can be substituted, but try to follow the fresh fruit seasons if you can.

Fruit peel, often referred to as zest, should be thinly cut, away from the white portion of the fruit. Citrus fruits should be washed very carefully to remove dust and chemical sprays. Liqueurs can be ruined by a mold, spoilage or spray that is present in the fruit.

Dried fruit liqueurs can be made any time of the year. But again, chose fresh quality dried fruits for the best taste. Dried fruits can deteriorate with age but it is a slower process.

Fresh seeds, herbs and spices are frequently called for in our liqueur recipes. Always purchase the freshest and best quality spices, etc.

possible. While the more common varieties are available in a supermarket, others such as dried angelica root may not be. Health food stores and herb/spice shops usually carry a wider selection at more economical prices.

In order to release the full flavor of a fruit or seed, the recipe will indicate that it be cut open or bruised. A mortar and pestle are ideal for bruising, however, a small bowl and the back of a spoon may be substituted. Bruising is a partial crushing of the seed to release the inner flavor to the liquid medium.

Pure glycerine is an olorless, colorless, syrupy liquid prepared by the hydrolysis of fats and oils. It is used as a food preservative and is available at drug stores, liqueur and winemaking shops, and some herb stores. We think of it as a smoothener. It performs two services: first, it gives additional body to thinner liqueurs that do not have as much natural body as desired. Secondly, it adds a smoothness and slipperiness in the tasting or sipping of a liqueur that gives a professional quality. In general, qantities of glycerine will vary, depending upon the need of the individual liqueur.

However, we recommend that you do not exceed 1 tablespoon per quart of liqueur.

Glucose syrup is a sweet syrup that can be found in cake decorating shops.

It has the consistency of corn syrup, and in its commercial form contains dextrin and maltose. It is not as sweet as the sugar and water combinations that we use in our recipes, but is an interesting alternative if you wish to experiment. It has the advantage of having a thick consistency which makes the addition of glycerine unnecessary.

Water: Water quality and taste vary considerably from one area to another. If you have good tasting water, you may choose to use it in liqueur making. However, for the best quality control in liqueur making, use distilled water. Distilled water will not impart any off flavors and you will receive the fullest taste from your liqueur.

Aging: There is one element in liqueur making that is absolutely essential to good quality and taste. The aging process. We are amazed to find that so many recipes (from other sources) ignore this step. Aging removes the raw edge of the alcohol, no matter which type of alcohol used. It lends mellowness and a professional quality to a liqueur that develops only with time. Your home made liqueur will be quite different from its commercial counterpart if not correctly aged.

We have indicated minimum aging times for each recipe. After this period of time, the liqueur is certainly ready for cooking purposes, but you may choose to age it additionaly before drinking. We recommend a taste test at this time. Except for the refrigerated cream liqueurs, (Advocaat, and irish Cream), which should be used within 6 months, most of our recipes will be at their peak after 1 years aging. Non-Cream liqueurs stay at their peak for about 3 years.

If you choose to double, triple or halve a liqueur recipe, it will not affect the aging time. Submitted By HELEN PEAGRAM On 04-12-95

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