Liqueurs ( French loan word liqueur , from Latin liquor for "liquid") are aromatic spirits with a relatively high sugar content (at least 100 grams per liter). The alcohol content is usually 15 to 35 % vol , but there are also stronger and weaker liqueurs, for example Chartreuse verte with 55% vol or Aperol with 11 or 15% vol.
The forerunners of today's liqueurs include the aromatized wines of Roman and Greek antiquity . Some fruit and fruit wines from Central Europe, such as black currant wine (currant), are similar in taste .
In the medicine
Arnaldo of Villanova , Rector of the Medical Faculty of the city Montpellier , the time to Catalonia was one, brought in last quarter of the 13th century, the technique of distillation - the production of alcoholic beverages with a higher alcohol content than beer or wine - from a crusade with you Europe.
He put a variety of medicinal plants in alcohol and alcohol-water mixtures in order to extract their active ingredients. This technique is called maceration . In addition to distillation, it is still one of the two basic techniques of liqueur production. Maceration can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.
After the maceration, the alcohol and the extracted essential oils are distilled once or twice. The second distillation is called rectification . To make the plant extracts edible, Villanova rounded off the taste with honey .
As a luxury food
As early as the 14th century, liqueurs for the simultaneous consumption of alcohol, aroma and sweetness began to be produced.
Due to the very high sugar prices , the consumption of liqueurs was limited to the wealthiest sections of the population until the 17th century. When the Italian noblewoman Catherine de Medici married the French King Henry II in 1532 , her entourage also included specialists in the manufacture of liqueurs.
Since sugar became generally available , first as a result of colonialism , there have been liqueurs made from almost all known fruits and herbs. In France there was one or more liquorists in practically every place who produced a colorful mixture of liqueurs. Some of these brands have a long tradition, but liqueur brands only achieved national distribution in the 19th century.
The Dutch companies Bols (spirits production since 1575), De Kuyper (since 1695) and the French company Marie Brizard (since 1755) are among the most traditional manufacturers that are still active on the market today . The well-known monastery liqueur Chartreuse has been produced since the 18th century, the commercial production of the Bénédictine , which is also allegedly based on old monastery recipes, began in 1863. The Curaçao liqueur Cointreau was also created in the second half of the 19th century . One of the most traditional German liqueurs is “ Der Lachs zu Danzig ”. In 1876, Eugen Verpoorten in Heinsberg the Liqeur factory & colonial produce by H. Verpoorten in which it was first commercially eggnog created.
Liqueur produced in the EU must have a minimum content of 100 g invert sugar per liter. Other sugar can also be used, but the degree of sweetness must correspond to that of at least 100 g invert sugar per liter. Any spirit that contains at least this sugar content is a liqueur. Crèmes are particularly sweet liqueurs with a sugar content of at least 250 g per liter, with crème de cassis at least 400 g per liter are required. Creams are mainly used to prepare cocktails.
Liqueurs are spirits for tax purposes and therefore subject until its abolition on 31 December 2017, the tax on spirits . Since January 1, 2018, they are subject to the alcohol tax law, along with all other alcoholic goods .
In addition to the classic maceration technique , liqueurs are nowadays sometimes made simply by mixing fruit syrup and / or aromas with sugar, alcohol and water. Most liqueurs get their color from added coloring agents, both natural and artificial coloring agents are permitted.
The liqueur market in Germany
In 2005, around 140 million liters of liqueur were sold in Germany. Semi-bitter liqueurs accounted for the largest share (their retail sales in shops over 200 m² alone accounted for 43% of the total liqueur market), followed by egg liqueurs (16.6%) and cream liqueurs (10.7%). In 2004, the per capita consumption was just under two liters and thus around a third of the total per capita consumption of spirits (5.9 liters).
Definition according to the Austrian food book
The Austrian food book defines in Codex chapter B 23:
- “Liqueurs are sweetened spirits that are made using sugar, suitable types of sugar or honey. The following substances are also used: Ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin or other alcoholic liquids such as fine spirits, spirits, spirits, alcoholic extracts, distillates, wine, fruit wine, fresh fruits, pickled and dried fruits, fruit pastes, fruit juices, herbs, eggs, cocoa, coffee, tea , Milk, chocolate etc., flavors, special additives such as edible acids, gold leaf etc. "
- André Dominé (Ed.): French specialties . Könemann, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-8290-1649-2 , chapter liqueurs, p. 232.