Unknown to some, liqueur is different from liquor. Often called spirits, a liquor is a fermented, distilled alcoholic beverage. Liqueurs, on the other hand, are a type of alcohol spirit that has been flavoured and sweetened. The flavour comes from a base liquor combined with various flavouring agents such as flowers, seeds, berries, fruits and other natural flavouring ingredients.
Choosing the Base Liquor and Extraction Method
The first step to making liqueur is selecting the base liquor, which is commonly brandy, rum or a grain spirit. Once the base liquor is chosen, a producer performs their preferred method to extract flavour from the natural flavouring ingredients. Producers can make a single liqueur that has all ingredients or multiple liqueurs that can be combined to create a desired flavour. The extraction method depends on the ingredients being used.
One of the many ways to produce liqueur is through maceration. This method involves adding the flavouring ingredient to the base liquor itself; this extracts the essences from the ingredients. Also known as infusion, maceration is commonly used for soft fruit such as peaches, bananas, strawberries and raspberries. Another form of this method is similar to how tea is made. The flavouring ingredients are soaked or steeped in water until they are soft. Afterwards, they are covered with a heated base liquor, which takes on the flavour of the liqueur.
Similar to brewing coffee, percolation involves dripping the base liquor through the flavouring ingredients so that its essences can be extracted. This method requires a percolation tank where the base liquor and flavouring ingredients will be placed on. The base liquor is placed on the bottom of a percolation tank and heated. Afterwards, it is pumped upwards and sprayed over the flavouring ingredients placed on the top of the tank. The base liquor infuses with the flavour essences as it trickles down to the bottom of the tank. This process repeats until all the essences are extracted from the ingredients.
The product that comes from maceration or percolation is distilled. The purpose of distillation is not to extract alcohol, but to extract aromatic elements from the flavouring ingredients. This method is most suitable for liqueurs that use dried flavouring agents such as plants, flowers, seeds or rinds.
It’s common practice for liqueur producers to age the finished product. This usually takes place in large wooden vats that smoothen the liqueur and allow the flavours to combine. In some cases, stainless steel or glass tanks are used to age the liqueur. After the ageing process, some liqueurs are sweetened and adjusted for colour. The finishing process ends with filtering, stabilising and bottling the liqueur.
Decadent “Liqueur” Style Range at The Berry Farm
Our liqueur style fortified wines here at the berry farm are made in a method that reflects traditional winemaking practices. With the fruit based liqueur style fortified wines, the selected fruit is fermented in open fermenters until the ferment finishes, at which point the wine is fortified to 20% alc/vol with grape-based spirit (which is 96% alc/vol) and then sugar and/or fruit/grape concentrate is added to adjust the sweetness of the wine. The wine is then clarified with bentonite (very much like a clay slurry) and then filtered after a couple of weeks of cold settling. Once the wine is filtered it is then bottled and labelled.
If you’re looking for a winery at Margaret River that sells a more gentle and drinkable liqueur style fortified wine, then a must visit is The Berry Farm, they offer a large range of sweet and decadent wines you’re sure to love.
They’re excellent for mixing cocktails or taking your coffee or hot chocolate to the next level. Our sweet liqueur style fortified wines also complement our range of cakes, scones and other sweet treats on our cottage café menu. Call +61 89 757 5054 to order our liqueur style fortified wines now online – www.theberryfarm.com.au.