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Alastair roots out a classic apéritif - Salers Gentiane

By Sarah Groves, also posted in News on

Salers GentianeSalers Gentiane is a classic French digestive. It's made from the root of Gentiane lutea - a wild flowering plant that grows in the Massif Central area of France. Its large tuberous roots, and all parts of the plant, are very bitter and it has been used over centuries as a tonic for a variety of ailments. Alastair Marshall, Adnams' Senior Wine buyer, has always loved the different brands of Gentiane digestives that can be found in France, but it wasn't until his sister moved to the Massif Central that he started to seek it out in earnest. After trying a wide range, it was the Salers that Alastair judged to be the most authentic and original. [caption id="attachment_6433" align="alignright" width="200" caption="The large tuberous roots of Gentiane lutea"]The large tuberous roots of Gentiane lutea[/caption] "Gentian is named after Gentius, King of Illyria (now the Western Balkans) in the 1st century BC, who is said to have discovered the plant's usefulness as a tonic. It has a delicate yellow flower and a large root which is used in the making of many bitter liqueurs. The Salers distillery is the oldest of all the producers of this unique aperitif style. It is based in the town of Salers, close by the Puy Marie, the highest mountain in the area and the source of the finest gentian root. Fabled as an aid to digestion, it's a widely popular drink in France.

Tasting note

The colour of amber with the aromas of candied peel, hints of coffee and with a highly distinctive bitter / sweet flavour. [caption id="attachment_6434" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Gentiane lutea grows wild in the Massif Central region of France"]Gentiane lutea grows wild in the Massif Central region of France[/caption] I must confess that this is a 'Marmite' sort of drink but if you are inclined, as I am, to enjoy bold flavours then a bottle of this is what you need in your drinks cabinet. I urge you to try a bottle as we should all support such artisan creations as this - a world without bitter / sweet memories is dull indeed!" The Gentiane Lutea roots are unearthed by hand from their alpine environment when the plants are between 15 and 20 years old. They are taken from the wild, so great care is taken to preserve the grassland and the ecosystem of the beautiful volcanic landscape of the Massif Central. Bitterness is tamed by ageing in barrels of Limousin oak.

Serving suggestion:

Serve well chilled over plenty of ice. Salers Gentiane is available in 1ltr bottles on-line and in our Adnams Cellar & Kitchen Stores, £22.50


Sarah Groves