Benedictine”, or D.O.M (.M. – Deo Optimo Maximo’ (Praise be to God, Most Good, Most Great) – made at Fecamp Abbey, France- goes back to 1510. “Bols to 1575 and green “Chartreuse” to 1737. Orange-flavored “Grand Marnier,” named after its inventor and co-investor by the hotel owner Cesar Ritz, first became available in 1827. “Triple Sec” dates to 1834, its birthplace being Saumur in the Loire.
The oldest English liqueur still being made dates to 1903 when Berry Bros & Rudd of London ( est.1698) created their “King’s Ginger” for King Edward V11.
England has become a nation of liqueur makers. A liqueur (from the Latin, “to dissolve”) being an alcoholic beverage with added sugar infused with increasingly strange USP ingredients.
Cambridge-based “Hedgepig,” which also makes “Pinkster” gin, makes liqueurs like “Zesty Elderflower,” “Glorious Gooseberry,” and “Bullace and Quince.” Bullace is a plum. 50 pence from each bottle sale goes to “The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.”
Tiptree (of jam fame) makes a strawberry liqueur. In contrast, in the Cotswolds, former fishmonger Jamie Baggott, responsible for the British Honey Co’s “Keeper” range, makes a sublime after-dinner mint, chocolate, and English vodka. London has its own whisky liqueur made by Sacred Drinks in Highgate.
In Thornbury, Gloucestershire, the “Bramley & Gage” range stretches from Greengage to Quince liqueurs. Says Pete Axford: “60kg of quinces goes into one batch (260 bottles), and we make 10 batches a year”.
Foxdenton Estate, Buckinghamshire, produces a post-prandial apricot brandy liqueur. Says the founder’s great-grandson, Charles Radyclyffe: “We were founded in 1935 by Major Charles Radclyffe, soldier and adventurer. He fought in the Boer War and World War One. He was twice shipwrecked and train-wrecked once. And tattooed with the family coat of arms on his chest. He made fruit liqueurs for hunts and shoots.”
With the help of their stills “Ophelia” and “Portia”, Simon Picken and former astrophysicist Peter Monks make “Shakespeare Mulberry Gin Liqueur.” at Stratford upon on Avon’s Shakespeare Distillery. The oldest mulberry tree in today’s Great Garden is reputed to have been grown from a cutting taken from the tree in Shakespeare’s own garden. ‘New Place’. Says Monk: ” We work in partnership with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to harvest the fruit to produce a special batch of gin.”
Hugh Munro of Warrington’s “Riverside Spirits” manufactures Apple Blossom, Lotus Flower, Cucumber, and Passion fruit shimmer liqueurs. “The boom is phenomenal. “At 70, my mother launched Christine’s Preserves. In 2012, we made our first liqueur. Growing from a cottage kitchen industry to a company supplying a major supermarket was a slow and organic process.”
In St Ives, Cornwall, the Thompson brothers –Tim, Greg, and Bertie -make “tongue-tingling tipples “ like orange-flavored Arancello, Limoncello, and Limecello. They run the seafront “Searoom Gastro Bar.” Recommended is a “SILCo Fizz” – Any of their liqueurs with sparkling wine. Try the pink grapefruit “Rosa Pompello” first. Classy.
Says Tom: “We use the whole fruit to produce less waste and more taste. Peeling and juicing by hand, the peel is infused in 96% natural grain spirit for around 48 hours, then infused with sugar syrup. The syrup is added back to neutral grain spirit to steep for two weeks.”
“Pennington’s” makes Kendal Mint Cake and Gingerbread liqueurs. Says co-founder and former graphic designer Simon Spurrell. “ Our Cherry and Almond liqueur is a nod to Bakewell Tart from neighboring Derbyshire.” So now, if you experiment with English liqueurs, you can have your cake and drink it. They’ll drive your conkers.