Aniseed and Other Flavored Spirits
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Name the 3 common features of all flavored spirits
- Base sprits: usually a highly rectified spirit but also Cognac and whisky
- Flavors and flavorings: fruits and botanicals (herbs and spices)
- Coloring (optional): natural plant extracts or artificial
What is a natural flavor?
One that is directly extracted from a fruit or botanical
What is a nature-identical flavor?
One that has been manufactured but is chemically identical to, and tastes the same as a natural flavor
When is coloring added to a liqueur?
Near the end of the process
Describe two types of coloring techniques
- Natural colors: extracted from plant material by maceration; colors unstable
- Artificial colors: chemical dyes approved for human consumption
Why are artificial coloring used?
More vivid and stable than natural coloring
Do premium spirit producers use artificial colors?
Name four techniques for natural flavor extraction
- Maceration: ffruit or botanical placed in diluted HRS for hours to months, heated or not
- Distillation: diluted HRS and botanicals placed in pot still; sometimes with maceration
- Steam distillation: botanical mixed in a reservoir of water or suspended above it; water is boiled; suitable to extract essential oils
- Vacuum distillation: variation of distillatioun or steam distillation but liquid boils at lower temperature
- Percolation: spirit is repeatedly dripped through the botanical
How is a final flavored spirit made?
- Blend to even out batch variation: Some use only one flavor extraction technique (e.g., London Dry Gin).
- Blend different components: Different flavor extraction techniques used for different components
- Cold compounding: Nature-identical flavors blended into base spirit
What botanicals are used to make absinthe?
- Aniseed flavors are from star anise, green anise, and fennel
- Wormwood adds a musky floral note an a bitter quality (but not predominate)
Must absinthe contain grand wormwood (artemisia absinthium)?
Yes. While there is no legal definitions, most are agreed it must contain wormwood.
How is classic absinthe made?
- Botanicals are macerated in high strength alcohol (wine-based or HRS) for 24 hours
- It is then diluted, redistilled with botanicals, and collected at 80% abv
How can you tell if a absinthe is an imitation?
- A classic absinthe louches when water is added
- Absinthes made by adding extracts to alcohol (imitations) do not
What is thujone?
- Toxin in absinthe that can cause convulsions in extremely high doses
- Thujone levels are controlled (10ppm in USA, 35ppm in EU)
- 19C "absinthism" was chronic alcoholism
Where was anise first used by distillers?
Turkey (Byzantine Empire)
What is the most famous/infamous anise drink?
- Absinthe was popular in the 19C
- Wrongly linked to disease and moral decay so banned in 20C
- Pastis filled the gap
What is the flavor compound that all anise drinks share
What plants contain anethole?
What is louching?
- When water is added to a spirit containing anethole it goes cloudy
- Anethole is not easily soluable in water so comes out of solution
How are anise-based spirits drunk?
Diluted with water so no stronger than wine
How is flavor extracted for anise-based spirits?
Many techniques are used to create several flavored spirits that are blended to create the final product
Do anise-based spirits use artificial colors?
Yes, even the best producers
Define an aniseed-flavored spirit
- Predominant flavor of anise extracted fro star anise, anise, fennel or any plant with same aromas
- HRS with flavor obtained by maceration and/or distillation and addition of extracts
- Only natural flavors can be used
- Anise-flavored spirit made from liquorice root at well
- Bottled at 40% abv
- Anethole levels between 1.5 and 2g/l
- Can be sweetened up to 100g/l
Define Pastis de Marseille
- Same as Pastis but higher alcohol and anethole
- Bottled at 45% abv
- Anethole level must be 2g/l
How does Pastis differ from Absinthe?
Absinthe is dry and served with sugar; pastis is sweetened and is also based on liquorice root as well as anise, star anise, and fennel.
Name two brands from Pernod Ricard (rivals merged in 1975) that dominate anise-flavored spirits
- Pernod Anise:
- Ricard Pastis: blend of distilled Chinese star anise and fennel, percolated Middle East liquorice root, herbs from Provence, neutral alcohol and sugar (<100 g/l)
Name Aniseed drinks other than Absinthe and Pastis
- Ouso: Greek equivalent of pastis; HRS redistilled with anise, mastic, etc.
- Raki: Turkey; raisins/grapes distilled to max of 94.5% abv (not HRS) called suma; Suma or suma mixed with HRS is diluted and redistilled with aniseed and collected at 80% abv. Diluted, sweetened, and rested for min 30 days.
Name 3 types of bitters
- Apertifs: palate sharpener before a meal; Campari, Suze, Cynar, Aperol
- Digestifs: Sweeet (Unicum, Becherovka, Calisay, Averna) and Bitter (Fernet Branca, Jagermeister, Underberg, Carlsbad)
- Cocktail: bottled at high strength (Angostura, Peychaud)
What is a bitter?
- Distilled to obtain an essential oil or macerated in HRS.
- Natural bittering agents include cinchon bark/quinine, angelica, gentian, bitter orage, rue, artichokes, rhubarb, bitter aloe
- Base is aromatized by clove, vanilla, coriander, ginger, sweet peels, etc.
- May be sweetened.
What is the history of bitters?
- Romans consumed bitters as an aid to digestion.
- Italy has greatest following (and calls them amaro).
What is the history of Angostura bitters?
- 1824: Created in the Venezuelan town of Angostura ("narrows" of Orinoco river) now Ciudad Bolivar) as a medicinal drink for troops of Simon Bolivar; does not contain bark of Angostura tree (but other bitters do)
- 1830: Exported to England and Trinidad
- 1862: Pink gins (gin and Angostura) created
- 1876: Moved to Trinidad (by Dr. Johann Siegert's brother and son after his death in 1870)
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