Review: St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
St Germain shares its name with a house/jazz musician, a count, an ascended master (whatever that is), and of course the Parisian football team. I’m sure there is a link somewhere but to my knowledge at least, none of them are actually involved in the production of this French liqueur.
Those who are involved however, have to be pretty quick off the mark, for the elderflowers from which St Germain is produced only appear for approximately 4-6 weeks in Spring. In order to increase yield, local harvesters frequently employ the services of their bicycles to transport their freshly picked flowers to local collection stations; which must be where my assumption that all French people ride around on bikes stems from! The flowers are then macerated using a ‘secret’ method to extract as much of the flavour as possible, with each days maceration being added to the last over the harvest period. The final maceration is blended with neutral grape spirit and cane sugar to create the finished product.
Neat: Silky smooth elderflower, with just the right amount of sweetness to deliver plenty of flavour but remain clean-tasting with no hint of any cloying finish . A hint of citrus and nut offer greater complexity than might be expected from single-flavour liqueur. Delicious.
Whilst perfectly tasty consumed neat, this is definitely a liqueur whose true beauty is released when mixed in cocktails. The elderflower flavour, like a megamix of all the best bits of passionfruit, grapefruit, lemon, peach and pear, pulls off being both delicate and flavoursome at the same time. It’s light and floral nature means that it works well with white spirits such as gin, or in the signature Hummingbird cocktail (recipe below), which is both delicious and ridiculously easy to make. This approachability makes it a great choice for the less experienced home bartender who is looking for something to add a little versatility to their drinks. Adding a small splash to something like a G+T for example offers a new dimension on an everyday drink.
Those looking for an ingredient to use with dark spirits and more complex cocktails will also not be disappointed; with it working very well as a replacement for other liqueurs or sugar syrup in all manner of drinks. Oftentimes in cocktails using aged spirits (rum works particularly well), the elderflower notes come through towards the finish on the palate, resulting in a wonderfully smooth, lingering and floral finish. With the exception of bitter or particularly herbal drinks which mask the flavour a little, St Germain is as versatile as it is delicious. Those looking for inspiration would do well to check out the St Germain website which has a plethora of excellent recipes.
Signature Cocktail – Hummingbird
60ml sparkling wine or Champagne 45ml St Germain 60ml soda water
Stir ingredients in a tall glass over ice and garnish with a lemon twist.
St Germain Liqueur is absolutely packed with the fresh and natural taste of elderflowers. It is hugely versatile in cocktails and is a staple ingredient of every home bar
St Germain Elderflower Liqueur is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.