One of few liqueurs that can truly claim to be world famous, Suze is beloved for its distinctive, earthy flavour.
Created 1889 by Fernand Moureaux, who was attempting to create an aperitif that was not based on wine, Suze is flavoured with the gentian root. Moureaux inherited the family distillery in 1885, but finding it on the brink of financial ruin, he launched Suze as his last hope to save the business. It was an instant success, winning gold at the 1889 World Fair in Paris. Paris had been decked out in orange for the fair, and Moureaux decided to use this colour to market his new aperitif.
Why the bottling is called Suze remains a mystery – some think it was the name of Moureaux’s sister in law (an early fan of the liqueur), whilst others point to a river in Switzerland where gentian grows.
The liqueur begins with a maceration of gentian in alcohol, a process which lasts several years! The gentian is then pressed, and the juice is distilled. Finally, this distilled juice is blended with other aromatic herbs and spices.
The result is a soft and subtly sweet liqueur with notes of liquorice, rooty gentian, flowers, orange zest, mint, honey and pine.
The liqueur is traditionally drunk with orange juice or tonic, though it makes an interesting spritz.
Suze has links to high art and culture – its distillery in Thuir was designed by Gustave Eiffel, whilst Pablo Picasso took Suze as his muse for his 1912 Cubist masterpiece ‘Verre et bouteille de Suze’ (glass and bottle of Suze).