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Taste the LIKÖR

HISTORY

In ancient Greece and Rome there was no Likör (liqueur). The simple reason: the distillation of wine or other substances was yet unknown, and without alcohol there is no Likör. However, the Romans made so called “Likörwein”. It was a spicy wine made by adding flowers, leaves and fruits to the wine, and more than 50 varieties have survived. But, with the emerging knowledge of distillation, also the advantages of using alcohol for Likör production became obvious. A new category of products was created that ranges from mellow eggnog, Limoncello to Jägermeister.


It is likely the category with the most varieties of Likör does not only include bitter, half-bitter and herbal base tastes. A Likör can be made with infusions and flavor essences of coffee, tea, chocolate, it can be creamy, tart, sweet, crisp, or bitter.

LIKÖR in History

The EArly Art of Drinking

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1315

Italy & France

Arnoldus Villanovus (Villanova), an alchimist and professor of medicine discusses alcohol as a medicine. As he sweetened the alcohol and added spices and flavors he created the first Likör (liqueur) in history.

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1320

Modena, Italy

Commercial distilling begins in Italy as a citizen of Modena produces large quantities of sweetened and flavored alcohol for sale.

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1332

Paris, France

The secret of Likör making is introduced to the king of France. The Likör was an expensive product that was sweetened and flavored with various herbs and spices.

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1500, 1512

Germany

Hieronymus Braunschweig writes the first book about distilling making the process accessible for pharmacists and physicians throughout Europe. Spirit production begins to expand beyond monasteries.

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1530-1533

France

With Catherine de Medici the culture of Likör (liqueur) drinking enters the French Court. As distillates, and sugar are very expensive Likör becomes the drink of the noble class. She marries the future king Henry II in 1533. It is said that her favourite Likör was made from rose petals, orange, and jasmine, among other ingredients.

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1532

Italy

Michael Savonarola writes a book about the art of Likör (liqueur) distilling for medicinal purposes.

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1575 (1664)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bols claims that the Bulsius family established the worlds oldest distillery in 1575 in Amsterdam. They opened “t Lootsje” as a Wine and Likör shop, though the oldest evidence of Bols distilling comes 89 years later, in 1664. Undoubtedly, Bols is the oldest distillery in the Netherlands.

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1585

Schlitz, Germany

Schlitzer distillery is the oldest still-producing distillery in Germany, and maybe even of the world. Signature products are liqueurs, fruit liqueurs, cordials, fine fruit brandies and whiskeys.

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1588

Netherlands

C.J. Coolhaes warns about grain distilling and mentions that grain based spirits are often mixed with sugar and honey to create a more palatable drink.

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1598

Danzig, Germany

Ambrosius Vermöllen opens the “Salmon of Danzig”, a famous German Likör (liqueur) distillery in Danzig. The distillery has produced and sold internationally its legendary Likör (liqueurs) including the “Danziger Goldwasser”. The distillery and its products were mentioned many times in fiction and art in subsequent centuries.

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end of 16th century

Germany, Sweden, Netherlands

Grain distilling is gaining importance. Due to the first distillates tasting so poorly, these distillates are often flavored with juniper, and other spices, and sweetened.

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1600

Europe

Distilling is integrated into the rural economy, and distillers guilds are founded throughout Europe for quality controls, and tax purposes. As trade rises wines are fortified, and Likör and brandy become sought after trade products.

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1620

Magdeburg, Germany

Centers of grain spirit distilling develop. There is still a strong public opinion against the abuse of cereals for manufacturing alcohol.

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1630

England

The term “Aqua vitae” gets replaced by the term “brandy” a short form of “branntwein”, “brandewine”, “brandy wine” reflecting the Dutch-German influence in distilling history. “Branntwein” literally translates from German to English as “distilled wine”.

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1645

Rome, Italy

The first European coffee house opens in Rome in 1645. Pope Clement VIII deemed coffee a Christian beverage in 1600, despite appeals to ban the “Muslim drink”.

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1671, 1675

France, Germany

Chocolate is praised a nourishing drink in fashion in France, and Germany.

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1686

France

Procopio opens the first cafe in Paris, selling a wide variety of Likör (liqueurs), sherbets, ices, and creations with coffee.

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1690

France

Audiger publishes “La maison regelee” including recipes to make all kinds of Likör (liqueurs) in the Italian fashion.

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1700

Languedoc, France

Montpellier becomes center for Likör production in France, production is perfected, and Likör becomes popular among the upper classes.

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1720

Netherlands

Tea consumption begins to become considerable as direct trade with China begins. 

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1734 (1735) - 1742

Georgia

British Parliament passes an act prohibiting the importation of rum and brandies into the colony of Georgia. Possibly the first moonshine stills ever operated in America are set up in the back country of Georgia.

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1750 - 1764

France

Gerome Maubec, a monk from La Grande Chartreuse creates an herbal elixir of long life. The Likör (liqueur) is the still made by the monastic order today (other than Bénédictine liqueur, which was developed in 1863 by Alexandre Le Grand).

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1801

Germany/ Prussia

Due to the very high sugar prices, the consumption of liqueurs was limited to the wealthiest sections of the population until the end 18th century. In 1801 Franz Karl Achard opened with the support of King Friedrich Wilhelm III the first sugar beet refinery at Gut Kunern near Steinau Silesia, Prussia. This made sugar affordable for all classes, and it broke the sugar cane monopoly of the British Empire.

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1815

Bologna, Italy

The pharmacist Ausano Ramazzotti from Bologna used his experience in the wine and liqueur trades in Milan to develop his own herbal liqueur in 1815 called Ramazotti.

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1863

France

Alexandre Le Grand develops Bénédictine, a herbal Likör basing on old monastery recipes from the Fécamp Abbey of the Benedictines. The company claims that the monk Bernardo Vincelli, who originally came from Veneto, was already preparing forerunners of the later liqueur around 1510.

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1876

Germany

In 1876, Eugen Verpoorten founded the Liqeur-Fabrik & Colonialwaaren of H. Verpoorten in Heinsberg, where he produced eggnog (Eierlikör) commercially for the first time in history.

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1934

Wolfenbüttel, Germany

In 1934 Wilhelm and Curt Mast created Jägermeister, a Kräuterlikör (herbal liqueur) composed with 56 herbs and spices. Jäger-meister has been exported since the early 1970s – today it is available in over 130 countries around the world.

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