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What is liqueur and how is it made?

by Anastasia Hartleib
Was ist Likör und wie wird er hergestellt

The most important facts summarized for you:

  • Liqueur always consists of water, alcohol, sugar and fruit, herb or other plant extracts
  • According to EU regulations, liqueur must contain at least 100 g of sugar per liter (except for cherry and gentian liqueurs)
  • Liqueur has at least 15 % vol. alcohol
  • The most popular varieties are Herbal, fruit or fruit juice liqueurs, coffee, nut, egg and cream liqueurs
  • Liqueur is usually produced using the maceration process

What is liqueur made from?

Liqueur is generally regarded as the little, less strong brother of brandies and spirits. However, this is only partly true, as liqueurs can also have an alcohol content of a good 40% vol. The real difference between liqueurs and brandies, spirits & co. lies in the addition of sugar. The European Union even stipulates this: 100 g of sugar per liter must be included as a minimum. Exceptions are cherry liqueurs (70 g per liter) and gentian liqueurs (80 g). Incidentally, the minimum alcohol content of liqueurs is 15% by volume.

But what does liqueur actually consist of? Essentially, the alcoholic drink is always made up of three basic ingredients: Alcohol of agricultural origin, mixed with foodstuffs - either naturally produced (i.e. fruit, herbs, juices, spices, milk, eggs, wine, extracts such as essential oils, etc.) or nature-identical (i.e. substances that have the same chemical composition as an apple but have been produced artificially) and sugar.

The art of liqueur production, however, lies in harmonizing the individual flavours of the ingredients in such a way that the end result is a tasty drink. There are different approaches to this.

Buying high-quality liqueurs:

How is liqueur made?

Liqueur can essentially be produced in two different ways: Maceration and distillation. As a rule, however, liqueurs are produced using the maceration process.


The ingredients that are to make up the liqueur are soaked in alcohol. This can either be a neutral-tasting alcohol, for example from grain, or another high-proof spirit such as rum or whisky (at Rose Valley, for example, the distiller soaks the nuts for the hazelnut liqueur in hazelnut spirit). Then they wait until the ingredients have released their substances into the alcohol.

As a rule, the macerate is simply left to stand in metal vats or wooden barrels, which can release additional aromas. However, there are also exceptions, such as percolation, in which the alcohol slowly passes through the ingredients. Sugar and water are then added to the resulting liquid in order to regulate the alcohol content to the desired drinking strength. Before the liqueur can be bottled, it is filtered.

In der Regel werden die Zutaten für Liköre in Alkohol eingelegt (mazeriert), damit sie ihre Aromen an die Flüssigkeit abgeben.
As a rule, the ingredients for liqueurs are macerated in alcohol so that they release their aromas into the liquid.


The distillation process is rarely used and mainly produces clear liqueurs. As with brandies, a mash is prepared from the desired ingredients. The liquid is then evaporated in the still. The vapors are drawn off through the so-called spirit tube and fed into a cooler, where they condense again. The condensate, which we usually know as brandy, is then mixed with sugar and also brought to drinking strength with water.

The most popular liqueurs at a glance

Herbal liqueur

Kräuterliköre gelten als die Urform der Liköre.
Herbal liqueurs are considered the original form of liqueurs.

  • "Original form" of liqueurs
  • were originally produced as a remedy, which is why they are still considered to have digestive properties today, for example
  • used to taste very bitter, today (due to the addition of sugar) they have a rather mild and sweet flavor
  • Difference between herbal liqueur vs. bitters: herbal liqueurs tend to be sweet in taste, bitters (also known as bitters or semi-bitter) tend to be tart and bitter
  • usually made from a mixture of several herbs

You can find our range of herbal liqueurs here.

Fruit & fruit juice liqueur

Fruchtliköre können entweder aus ganzen Früchten oder aus Fruchtsaft hergestellt werden.
Fruit liqueurs can be made from either whole fruit or fruit juice.

  • Difference: Whole fruits are macerated in fruit liqueurs, while only the juice is added to the alcohol in fruit juice liqueurs
  • Fruit juice liqueurs contain at least 20 percent juice
  • have been increasingly consumed for around 30 years
  • Great variety of flavors

You can find our fruit liqueurs here

Nut liqueur

Die beliebtesten Nussliköre sind Haselnuss- und Walnussliköre.
The most popular nut liqueurs are hazelnut and walnut liqueurs.

  • is produced using the maceration process
  • common are hazelnut liqueur and walnut liqueur, but also pistachio, peanut or coconut liqueur

You can find a selection of nut liqueurs here !

Egg liqueur

Der Vorläufer von Eierlikör wurde aus Avocados hergestellt.
The forerunner of egg liqueur was made from avocados.

  • Creamy-sweet taste
  • consists mainly of egg yolk, sugar & alcohol
  • is often prepared at home with milk, cream or condensed milk
  • The original form of eggnog was made from avocados

Order your favorite egg liqueur now!

Cream liqueur (also known as cream liqueur)

Sahne- oder Creamliköre dürfen nicht im Eisfach gelagert werden!
Cream liqueurs must not be stored in the freezer!

  • similar to egg liqueur creamy-sweet taste
  • Main ingredient: cream or milk, usually in combination with chocolate or similar
  • often based on whisky, cognac or vodka
  • must not be stored in the freezer, only in the fridge

Coffee liqueur

Kaffeeliköre werden oft in Cocktails, wie dem Espresso Martini, verwendet.
Coffee liqueurs are often used in cocktails such as the Espresso Martini.

  • goes back to the Mexican Kahlua
  • usually has a sweet coffee flavor, but tart variations are also possible
  • is usually produced using the maceration process
  • is often used in cocktail recipes

Discover now: Coffee liqueur

Bitter liqueur

Auch Bitterliköre werden oft in Cocktails verwendet, so wie in diesem Negroni hier. Aber auch als Aperitifs trinkt man Bitterliköre gern.
Bitter liqueurs are also often used in cocktails, as in this Negroni here. But bitter liqueurs are also popular as aperitifs.

  • are mostly made from plant extracts
  • taste tart, but still slightly sweet
  • make a good aperitif due to the bitter aromas they contain (appetizing)
  • can be found in classic cocktails such as Negroni, Aperol or Old Fashioned

You can order bitter liqueurs here! To the assortment

How do you drink liqueur?

Liqueurs are traditionally drunk neat. Bitter and herbal liqueurs are particularly popular as an aperitif, i.e. an appetizer before a rich meal, or as a digestif after a meal.

However, you can also use liqueurs as ingredients in cocktails and for cooking and baking - or enjoy them with a filler, such as tonic water, as a long drink. Freytag's hibiscus blossom liqueur, for example, tastes excellent in this way. There are no limits to your creativity when it comes to combinations!

Depending on your taste and preferences, you can choose from creamy-sweet to sour or spicy-hot flavors for a wide variety of tastes. Taste your way through the colorful world of liqueurs and discover the variety of flavors of high-quality craft spirits! Buy liqueurs online now

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About the autor:

Anastasia Hartleib

Anastasia Hartleib

Katalog & Marketing Managerin

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Für mich geht nichts über das Entdecken kleiner Manufakturen. Ob das der Micro Craft Brauer aus Bayern oder die sächsische Brennerei ist, die es bereits seit Jahrzehnten gibt - hauptsache klein, regional verwurzelt und mit Sinn für's Handwerk!

  • Liebt: frische Luft, ihren Hund & Vinyl
  • Favorite drinks: wechseln mit so ziemlich jedem Glas...
  • Empfehlung des Monats: Alkoholfreier Gin. Der EASIP Fields holt den Frühling ins Glas!