10 Flavourful & Aromatic Herbal Liqueurs


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Herbal drinks have a fascinating history dating back to the Middle Ages. The best herbal liqueurs are complex, often created using a secret recipe of herbs, spices, and other exotic ingredients sourced from all 4 corners of the globe.

Often initially developed for medicinal purposes due to their potent natural ingredients, herbal liqueurs have become a favourite serve amongst contemporary bars and retro speakeasies.

Best Herbal Liqueurs

I’ve selected 10 of the best herbal liqueurs packed with exotic herbs, spices and fruits for a flavour-packed adventure like no other.

1. Jägermeister

Jägermeister
Credit: Jägermeister

Overview

  • Distiller: Jägermeister
  • ABV: 35% (70 Proof)
  • Country: Germany
  • Colour: Light Gold

Review

Wilhelm Mast founded a vinegar company in Wolfenbuttel in 1878, but in 1934 his son, Curt Mast came up with a much more exciting product. Long a staple of student parties, Jägermeister is also finding a home in classy cocktail bars.

Jägermeister closes guards their recipe, but this digestif is known to contain 56 ingredients, including juniper berries, liquorice, anise, citrus peel, and ginger.

On The Nose

Jägermeister is a kaleidoscope of aromas, with notes of cinnamon, cherry, liquorice, and flowers.

On The Palate

Liquorice, ginger, and dark sloe mingle with citrus, dried mint, and peppery spice. The finish delivers liquorice, herbs and black pepper.

Best Served

Best served chilled to -18C in the freezer and sipped. You can also use it to pimp up any cocktail.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Bénédictine D.O.M. Liqueur

Bénédictine D.O.M. Liqueur
Credit: Bénédictine

Overview

  • Distiller: Benedictine
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: France
  • Colour: Light Amber

Review

Benedictine monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli created the secret recipe of Bénédictine in 1510 at the Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy. Later, the last surviving monk of Fécamp passed the formula on to the Le Grand family.

Alexandre Le Grand named this drink Bénédictine D.O.M. in honor of the monks and their motto, Deo Optimo Maximo. Bénédictine begins with a base of brandy and neutral spirit, flavoured with 27 herbs and spices, including saffron, and sweetened with honey.

On The Nose

Notes of citrus, zest, pine, and dry spice dominate.

On The Palate

Smooth exotic spices mingle with honeyed citrus, leading to a warm and complex finish with vanilla, pine, and saffron notes.

Best Served

Best served with soda or tonic or in classic cocktails such as the Singapore Sling, La Louisiane, and Vieux Carré.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Amaro Montenegro

Amaro Montenegro
Credit: Montenegro

Overview

  • Distiller: Montenegro
  • ABV: 23% (46 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Light Gold

Review

Created in 1885 by Stanislao Cobianchi as Elisir Lungavita (elixir of long life), Amaro Montenegro gained its name in 1896 as a tribute to princess Elena of Montenegro when she became the second queen of Italy on her marriage to Victor Emmanuel III. 

A bittersweet liqueur, Amaro Montenegro uses a secret recipe consisting of 40 botanicals, including nutmeg, liquorice, plus sweet and bitter oranges.

On The Nose

Mandarin orange, vanilla, liquorice, bitter spices.

On The Palate 

Begins with sweet vanilla and orange. Mid-palate reveals bitter spices and tropical fruit, leading to a bitter citrus aftertaste. Quite a fruity liqueur but leans more towards herbs.

Best Served

Amaro Montenegro is best served straight, with ice and lemon rind. Try with sweet vermouth and bitters in a Montenegroni cocktail.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Becherovka

Becherovka
Credit: Becherovka

Overview

  • Distiller: Becherovka
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Czech Republic
  • Colour: Soft Amber

Review

Initially created as a tonic for stomach illness by English physician Dr Frobridge, the personal physician to Prince Maximilian Friedrich von Plettenberg.

This bittersweet liqueur has a cult-like following and is made with approximately 20 herbs and spices, including cinnamon, orange oil, cloves, and nutmeg, and matured in oak.

On The Nose

Becherovka is complex and spicy, with cinnamon, aniseed, and cloves dominating.

On The Palate

Bittersweet notes of roots, dried mint, aniseed, and honey mix with cloves and cough syrup. The finish is lingering and bitter, with roots, clove, and cinnamon.

Best Served

Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy Becherovka is neat, slowly sipping. Also, try as an Original Beton or Bitter Beton cocktail.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Zwack Unicum Liqueur

Zwack Unicum Liqueur
Credit: Zwack

Overview

  • Distiller: Zwack
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Hungary
  • Colour: Dark Amber

Review

In 1790, Dr József Zwack, court physician to the Habsburg imperial family, created this liqueur as a remedy for indigestion. Well, looking at the bottle, I feel it seems as if it could cure pretty much anything, perhaps not the ideal tonic for a hangover!

This bittersweet liqueur is produced from over 40 botanicals, macerated, distilled, and then aged for 6 months in oak barrels.

On The Nose

Zwack Unicum has floral, citrus, and smoky herbal notes.

On The Palate

Root beer, bitter chocolate, and coffee notes mingle with liquorice, citrus sweetness, and chilli spice, leading to a bitter and rather hot finish.

Best Served

Zwack Unicum Liqueur is best served neat and chilled as an aperitif or digestif. If you crave more coffee flavour, check out my article on 10 Intensely Rich Coffee Liqueurs.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Licor Beirão

Licor Beirão
Credit: Beirão

Overview

  • Distiller: Beirão
  • ABV: 22% (44 Proof)
  • Country: Portugal
  • Colour: Amber

Review

Originating, as many of these drinks do, as a cure for stomach ailments, Licor Beirão was initially made in a pharmacy in Lousã, Portugal. This award-winning herbal liqueur is packed with flavour.

This sweet liqueur is massively popular across Portugal and finds its way into cakes and desserts. The precise ingredients are a tightly-guarded secret using herbs and seeds from many parts of the world.

On The Nose

Spearmint leads with fresh rosemary and eucalyptus.

On The Palate

Sweet mint leads to a deep herbal mid-palate with a lingering cinnamon and spice finish.

Best Served

Enjoy neat on the rocks with a slice of lemon, pair with orange juice, or in a mojito Beirão.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. Chartreuse Green

Chartreuse Green
Credit: Chartreuse

Overview

  • Distiller: Chartreuse
  • ABV: 55% (110 Proof)
  • Country: France
  • Colour: Light Gold

Review

The Carthusian monks have made this liqueur since 1840 in the Chartreuse Mountains in the Grenoble region of France. Only two monks know the formula for this drink, and they alone supervise its distillation (source).

A closely-guarded secret, this liqueur recipe contains 130 botanicals, including mace, lemon balm, cinnamon, hyssop flowers, thyme, costmary, arnica flowers, peppermint, and angelica root.

On The Nose

Spicy and herbal notes mingle in a complex bouquet.

On The Palate

Sweet mint, sage, and apple are fused with spicy vanilla and violet notes, leading to a slightly bitter herbal finish.

Best Served

Serve chilled in a tulip or wide-mouthed shot glass. Also, try cocktails such as The Last Word, Bijou, and Naked and Famous, or with hot chocolate as the après-ski classic, Green Chaud.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

8. Danzig Goldwasser

Danzig Goldwasser
Credit: Goldwasser

Overview

  • Distiller: Der Lachs
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Poland
  • Colour: Soft Gold

Review

Dutchman Ambrosius Vermeulen, who migrated to the German city of Danzig (now the Polish city of Gdańsk), created this liqueur in 1598 at the height of the alchemical fascination with gold. Its most prominent feature is tiny suspended flakes of 22 karat gold!

Apart from the gold, Goldwasser contains some 20 roots and herbs, including juniper, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, lavender, thyme, and clove.

On The Nose

Cinnamon and anise mingle with liquorice and cloves.

On The Palate

Sweet anise and cloves are balanced by warm cinnamon, leading to a herbal cinnamon finish.

Best Served

Serve Danzig Goldwasser on the rocks, with sparkling wine, or as a Lavender Glam cocktail.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

9. Fernet-Branca

Fernet-Branca
Credit: Branca

Overview

  • Distiller: Branca
  • ABV: 39% (78 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Soft Gold

Review

This liqueur’s history goes back to 1845, when the noble family of Branca di Romanico founded the company in Milan. Fernet-Branca will undoubtedly capture your imagination if you love a secret recipe.

A fusion of 27 roots, herbs, and spices, including quinine, rhubarb, chamomile, cinnamon, linden, orris, and saffron (I could go on…!). They use a complicated system of macerations and distillations and then aged in Slovenian oak for 12 months.

On The Nose

Aromatic mint, cinnamon, liquorice and rhubarb.

On The Palate

Minty with floral notes and citrus zest. Mid-palate becomes complex with herbs and spices. The finish is oaky and herbal with a lot of mint and bitterness.

Best Served

Serve Fernet-Branca on the rocks with a slice of citrus, as a long drink with cola, or spike an espresso to make a Caffè Corretto.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

10. Amaro Averna

Amaro Averna
Credit: Averna

Overview

  • Distiller: Averna
  • ABV: 29% (58 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Dark Brown

Review

In 1868, the Benedictine monks of San Spirito Abbey in Caltanissetta, Sicily, created the recipe for this amaro for Salvatore Averna. The first licensed spirit in Sicily, Amaro Averna, has grown to become Italy’s best-selling amaro (source).

A bittersweet tonic liqueur, Amaro Averna is made with 33 herbs, including rosemary, myrtle, cinnamon, lemon oil, and bitter orange oil.

On The Nose

Bright jasmine, bitter orange, liquorice and juniper berries.

On The Palate

Bitter orange, liquorice and fresh juniper meet sage, rosemary, and myrtle mid-palate. The finish reveals liquorice with lingering orange.

Best Served

The brand themselves recommend you enjoy Amaro Averna neat as a digestif, neat with ice and orange peel.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

Seperator

Ingrid’s Top Pick

best herbal liqueurs

Amaro Averna

My top pick is Amaro Averna because the contrasting bitter orange and liquorice work incredibly well with the herbs of mainly sage, rosemary, and myrtle. Very flavoursome.

Conclusion

It was hard to choose just ten of the best herbal liqueurs from the hundreds of worthy candidates, but I wanted to create a curated selection that will transport you to distant shores and perhaps become your new favourite tipple!

Fancy something more dessert-like? then don’t forget to check out my article on 8 Silky-Smooth Irish Cream Liqueurs.

Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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