Paul Pacult, the renowned drink expert and author of Kindred Spirits said of a Walnut Liqueur it was the "Best Liqueur in the World". Though its history can be traced back thousands of years to when the Celts dominated Central Europe and today versions of it can be found throughout Central Europe, it is still a fairly rare drink to find in the UK. The new British made Demijohn Walnut liqueur is now here to change that.
Black walnut liqueur seems to be found where ever there is an abundance of walnuts growing, which seem to exist in the region around Central Europe from Italy, Southern Germany, Croatia and France. The most commonly known version, Nocino, comes from the Emilia Romagna region in Northern Italy, however, not so widely travelled from the regions where they are made, very similar drinks such as Vin de Noix from France, Nusse or Nussenschnaps from Germany and Austria, Licor de Nuez from Spain, Orechovka from Czech Republc, Diolikor from Hungary, Orzechowka from Poland and the Croatian walnut liqueur called Orahovac.
Traditionally unripe, green walnuts are harvested on the eve of San Giovanni (Saint John), 24th June, and are then left to soak in a mixture of alcohol and spices until at least November 3rd to ward off evil spirits and to allow the liqueur to mellow. During this time the flavour and colour from the walnuts is extracted. First a light greenish, yellow colour, leading to what appears to be black, though which is in reality, is an extremely dark green. However once the liqueur is exposed to air during the filtering process, a chemical change occurs and the liqueur really turns black.
Walnut Liqueur is the prefect drink for sipping on cold winter nights by the fire. Its unique deep, dark, espresso colour, aroma of spices and citrus, the slight bitterness of the walnuts, luxurious sweetness and a warming hint of cloves just conjures up the idea of Christmas in a glass. Other nut based liqueurs pale into insignificance in comparison.
Like many other liqueurs, Monks have long used liqueurs made from Walnuts for their medicinal properties, but it is far too good to be keep for when you are feeling poorly. It is very well suited as an after dinner digestif in a comfortable chair by the fire, but it also makes an excellent cheese or dessert drink especially with crème caramel. It can also be added to coffee or hot chocolate for a decadent treat, poured over ice-cream as a topping, or even as an ingredient to make a boozy, grown-up ice cream. It is also strong enough to hold its own in walnut liqueur cocktails such as a Walnut Martini or a Nutty Russian. After winter as passed, if there is any left, try it in a tall glass with ginger beer and ice, for an amazing aperitif.