G.E. Massenez – the master distiller of Alsace


Alsace is famous for its fragrant white wines, sparkling. Few people know of Alsace’s light, aromatic, and succulent pinot noirs that have never been aged in barrels.

Central European food lovers like to finish their meals with a fragrant cup of coffee and a shot of fruit brandy.

This is where Massenez fruit brandies come in – the family distillery that specializes in fruit brandies, fruit-based liqueurs, and cremes.

Massenez was founded in 1879 and remains a family enterprise.

Central Europeans (Swiss, Germans, Austrians and Hungarians) are great consumers and connoisseurs of fruit brandies.

One litre of fruit brandy requires approximately 12kms of fruit, fermentation and distillation.

Fruit brandies are generally not aged except for Calvados from Normandy, and cognacs from Charente Maritime. They are consumed either at room temperature, blended with coffee, or very cold, or in pastries, fruit salads, pie toppings, or for deglazing pans to cerate in-pan sauces, in some soups, flambéing, and in medicines.

Grape brandies are aged and not subject in this piece.

Apples (calvados) or applejack), damassine from Jura in Switzerland, coconut, cherries (kirsch), peach, pears (poire Williams), plums, apricots, quinces, mulberries, raspberries, and strawberries are used to produce fruit brandies.

In Hungary, fruit brandies are called palinka and may be clear of sweetened, slivovitz (plum based) is the name in Serbia, Slovenia, and Slovakia. Romanians call fruit brandies tuica.

Of all the countries, the most famous fruit brandies are France (Alsace, Normandy for Calvados), Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

In France Massenez is regarded as one of the best fruit brandy, liqueurs and creme distilleries.

Recently, I had an opportunity to taste an array of Massenez brandies, liqueurs and cremes.

The difference between liqueur and creme is the former contains 200 grams of sugar per litre and 30 per cent alcohol by volume), whereas creme 400 grams hence lower in alcohol by volume (20 per cent) than liqueurs.

All Massenez fruit brandies are at 40 per cent ABV and available.

All the brandies I tasted (Framboise sauvage (wild raspberry), Kirsch Vieux (cherries), Mirabelle Vieille Reserve Personelle ( plum ), Quetche (quince), Poire Williams (pear) displayed an excellent purity of base fruit, were smooth, seamless, deeply flavoured, fragrant and eminently enjoyable.

The cremes (Creme de Fraises, Creme de Framboise, Creme de Griotte (Morello cherry), Creme de Mirtille, Creme de Mure (bramble berry), Creme de Peche (peach), Cassis de Dijon (blackberry) were sweet, but well balanced and intense in their base-fruit flavour.

Liqueurs (Liqueur d’Apricot, Liqueur de Pamplemousse (grapefruit), Liqueur de Citron Vert et Gingembre (green apples and ginger) were all outstanding and tasted of their base-fruit. All were less sweet than cremes and contained more alcohol hence lighter in texture but more inviting.

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