A brilliantly diverse category, encompassing the monastic liqueurs like Chartreuse alongside Italian classics such as Amaretto and Sambuca, cult drinks like Jagermeister and old stagers like Kummel. Many herb liqueurs contain dozens of different ingredients, the exact constitution and combination of which is invariably a jealously-guarded secret.
Packaged in a bottle shaped like a traditonal Incan goddess, Damiana is a liqueur made with the eponymous herb from Baha California in Mexico, and is (possibly spuriously) claimed by its makers to have been an ingredient in the first ever Margarita, before being usurped by triple sec. If anyone can cast any light on these claims, answers in the comments section below, please.
A litre bottle of Suze Saveur D'Autrefois, a spicy fruity liqueur made in the Thuir region of southern France since 1889. Made using wild yellow gentian from Auvergne, this is a secret ingredient of many an American bartender.
Legendre Herbsaint is an anise flavoured spirit. Created by two gentlemen from New Orleans, who learnt about absinthe making in France in the First World War (of which herbsaint is almost an anagram). This was intended to be an absinthe substitute after it was banned.
An old bottle of Maraska Pelinkovac – a herbal liqueur based on wormwood, this is a popular eastern European digestif. Maraska are based in Croatia, which was at the time of bottling (in the 1980s) part of Yugoslavia.
A very special limited edition Chartreuse produced in partnership with a French guild of Master Sommeliers, the MOFS ('Meuilleurs Ouvriers de France-Sommeliers'). The MOFS were flying blind as they weren't allowed to see the original recipe, and this is said to be less sweet and much more complex than standard yellow Chartreuse.
A special edition Chartreuse, originally created in 1984 to mark the 900th anniversary of the foundation of the Grande Charteuse abbey where the liqueur was originally made. This liqueur is similar to green chartreuse but is sweeter and at a lower strength.
In 1605 François Hannibal d'Estrées, presented the recipe for an 'Elixir of Life' to the Carthusian monks. Using over 130 different herbs & spices, the recipe was so complex that it took the monks well over a century to figure it out - production was not begun at the monastery until 1737. This special edition Chartreuse was created in 2005, 400 years later, and is a recreation of the original recipe bottled at the slightly lower strength of 56%.
A half-litre bottle of Chartreuse Yellow VEP. The ageing period for this ultra-mellow Charteuse is at least eight years and the bottle is presented exactly the same way as in 1840, with a wax seal over a driven cork and a wooden box marked with a branding iron. V.E.P. stands for 'Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé', meaning 'Exceptionally Long-Aged'.
A BIG bottle of Jagermeister, complete with recessed area to help those of us with smaller hands pour from the bottle. The chilled shot of choice for the discerning metal band and an excellent digestif for those without quite so much hair.
Ricard is almost unknown in the UK, yet it is the third-best selling spirit in the world. A pastis with strong liquorice and aniseed flavours, Ricard is delicious when diluted with very cold water. We estimate this bottle dates from the 1980s.
Izarra 54 is a herbal liqueur made from a secret blend of herbs and spices including cinnamon, nutmeg coriander, thyme, angelica, anise and peppermint. Produced in Bayonne deep in French Basque Country, this is best served either on its own or with gin.