Crème au Genièvre is a cask-aged spirit and more specifically a juniper-flavoured liqueur made from distilled juniper and sweetened with sugar and then flavoured to give it a range of age expressions.
Confusingly a crème is not the same as a “cream” of “cream liqueur” though the word crème is the French word for cream.
A crème does not contain any dairy ingredients such as Crème de Menthe (Mint Liqueur) or Crème de Mûre (Blackberry Liqueur). By definition, with the exception of protected geographical indicated (PGI) crème drinks such as Crème de Cassis de Dijon (400g of sugar per litre), a crème should have 250g of sugar per litre of alcohol and be bottled at a minimum 15% ABV. It is this higher sugar concentration that makes the Crème au Genièvre have a viscous and heavier character.
Together the liquor of Crème au Genièvre is maturated, aged, rested and stored for several weeks, months or years in either a virgin or re-used cask known as a barrel, hogsheads or butts of various sizes. Either American white oak (Quercus alba), European oak (Quercus robur), and Japanese Oak (Quercus acuta).
Each species of oak is differentiated by its level’s lignin, cellulose and tannins that all affect the finish of the gin. The flavour profile of Crème au Genièvre is developed from the relationship between the botanicals and the cask.
The American white oak grows faster and has a mellower, finer and more contained aroma, whilst the European oak provides full, intense aromas and more tannins. The cask and its size give the Crème au Genièvre an added depth of flavour and colour.
During the resting period, the wooden cask expands and contracts due to seasonal changes and artificially managed changes in temperature to alter the aroma and flavour.
When the cask expands the spirit seeps into the wood’s pores and is reversed when the wood contracts. The net effect is the liquor is infused with wood-derived congeners and any previous essences.
Crème au Genièvre can be drunk either on its own or used as a base for mixed drinks or as a substitute for sugar syrup in many gin cocktails.