Words by: Simon Difford
Gentian liqueurs tend to be bright yellow and taste on the bitter side of bittersweet. As the name suggests, their flavour comes from an infusion and distillation of gentian root, usually the yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea) variety, although the roots of blue Hungarian (Gentiana pannonica) red gentian (Gentiana purpurea) and spotted gentian (Gentiana punctata) may also be used.
Gentian grows in Europe's mountainous regions: the Alps, the Massif Central the Jura, the Pyrenees and the Vosges, but yellow gentian is mainly harvested in the Massif Central, particularly in the Auvergne region.
The harvesting of wild gentian is strictly controlled so most of the gentian used in beverage production is specifically cultivated. It takes seven to ten years after planting for gentian to reach sufficient maturity for harvesting. In France, the harvesters are traditionally called Gençanaïres and use special fork known as Devil's Pitchfork.
Gentian liqueurs originated in France in 1885 and continue to be a popular French aperitif, traditionally served over ice with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Gentian liqueurs are increasingly being used as an interesting flavouring and bittering ingredient in cocktails. We have a growing collection of gentian liqueur cocktails on Difford's Guide and if you have a particularly good cocktail using gentian then please email your recipe to email@example.com
Made by macerating gentian roots in grape neutral alcohol and this maceration is then double-distilled and blended with herbs and other botanicals that have also been macerated. The blend is aged in well-seasoned casks for 18 months. Clean, aromatic gentian.
Inspired by Gaetan Picon’s amer (bitters) first produced in 1837, Golden Moon says they have “recreated his original manufacturing processes and acquired the original type of ingredients used by the legendary distiller.” Golden Moon Amer dit Picon was first released in July 2013. Zesty orange, quinine, balsa wood, sweet almond and pecan pie with cold tea, stewed plums, figs, cinnamon, nutmeg and faint mocha coffee.
In 1921 Emile Refouvelet established a delicatessen in the French town of Riom-ès-Montagnes and started to experiment with the plants growing in the surrounding countryside. After a year of formulating, in 1929, he started selling this gentian flavoured aperitif in his store. Ground turmeric, cardamom and orange zest with menthol pine and eucalyptus.
This slightly bitter aperitif was created in 1885 and launched in 1889 by its creator Fernand Moureaux. Gentian roots are macerated in alcohol for several years and this maceration is then double-distilled and blended with herbs and other botanicals that have also been macerated. Dusty turmeric, juniper, dried powdered orange zest with menthol pine and eucalyptus.
Amer Picon is made with fresh and dried orange peel macerated in neutral alcohol and then distilled. Dried gentian roots and quinquina are macerated separately. These two base flavoured spirits are then blended together along with sugar and caramel. Zesty orange and quinine with faint mocha coffee.
A bright yellow and bittersweet liqueur digestive made by the maceration and distillation of gentian. Pronounced 'Sal-Err' (the last 's' is not pronounced)an named after the small town of Salers, famous for the cultivation of gentian (with which this product is flavoured).
Showing results per page