February 26, 2007

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Bill Dowd photo

A French company called Maison St. Germain provided a sample bottle of its Delice de Sureau (sureau is French for elderflower, delice for delight), a 40-proof artisanal liqueur. The rather secretive company claims that although elderflowers are used in herbal syrups and folk medicine this is the first use of them in a liqueur.

St. Germain:

The major difference between the non-alcoholic elderflower syrup and the alcoholic elderflower liqueur -- other than the obvious of alcohol -- is in the level of sweetness. The former, usually made with frozen or freeze-dried blossoms, is quite sweet because it usually is one of a number of ingredients in a concoction. The latter is toned down in sweetnes. That allows it to be drunk straight or work nicely in a mix.

I was struck by the comparatively full-bodied flavor despite the very gentle nose. The notes of citrus and stone fruit, mostly peach, were apparent but we also caught a teasing flavor that took a moment to identify. It was lilac. I might have been unable to put my finger on it had I not experienced the same persistent, pleasant nuance in a Martell Cordon Bleu sampled at a recent cognac tasting dinner in Las Vegas. Since, like part of the St. Germain recipe, cognac is a French eau de vie, that may account for the lilac presence that one can coax out along with the gentle elderflower.

The liqueur also worked nicely with champagne and a bold sauvignon blanc.

Retails for about $32.

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Anonymous said...

where does one buy this in NYC?

William M. Dowd said...

Dear A:

This is a "special order" item at most stores. I'd suggest going to a high-end merchant who deals in more than run-of-the-mill stock and would have good connections among distributors.

Anonymous said...

You are just goto the St. Germain site and they have a list of three distributers. One of which has it for sale for $29.99. Not that bad for something so damn good.