A liqueur is a sweet alcoholic beverage, often flavoured with fruits, herbs, spices, flowers, seeds, roots, plants, barks and even cream. The word liqueur comes from the Latin word liquifacere which means "to dissolve," which refers to the dissolving of the flavorings used to make the liqueur.
Liqueurs date back centuries and are historical descendants of herbal medicines, often those prepared by monks, as Chartreuse or Benedictine. Liqueurs were made in Italy as early as the 13th century.
The distinction between liqueurs and spirits (sometimes liquors) is not simple, especially since many spirits are available in a flavored form today.
Key Differences Between Liqueurs and Spirits:
- Flavored spirits are not prepared by infusion.
- Some liqueurs are prepared by infusing certain woods, fruits, or flowers, in either water or alcohol, and adding sugar or other items. Others are distilled from aromatic or flavoring agents.
- Liqueurs are not usually aged for long periods of time, but may have resting periods during their production to allow flavors to harmonize.
- Alcohol content is not a distinctive feature of liqueurs. At 15 to 30%, most liqueurs have lower alcohol content than spirits, but some have an alcohol content as high as 55%.