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flowers & Fruits

Fruits and flowers add a perceived sweetness to vermouth even if no sugar has been added. There are many usable parts of a flower. Rose petals, for one, can be used in skincare products and cooking, whereas saffron – the vivid stigma of a Crocus sativus – is a highly-prized spice. A vermouth without flowers or fruit is like a dish without seasoning; it’s still edible, but won’t excite the palate.

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leaves

Leaves are essential to most of the plant world. Leaves harness the power of the sun using photosynthesis to sustain the plant. Science aside, the leaves can be incredibly pungent and quite ‘green’ in flavour, adding an extra layer of freshness to a recipe.


ROOTs, BARKs & SEEDS

The primary reason we use roots in vermouth is to add extremely high levels of bitterness. Through years of evolution, our tastebuds have come to recognise bitterness as a potential toxin and are programmed to alert us to its presence. The upside of this fact is that when we do ingest something bitter, the brain identifies it as a poison and speeds up the metabolism to help the body digest it. This is why our favourite after-dinner drinks or aperitifs usually contain something bitter. To create a palatable vermouth, you are looking for a balance between the sweet and sour base ingredients and the bitterness of roots to round out the holy trinity.

Barks act similarly to roots in contributing bitter notes to vermouth. They are incredibly aromatic, too. Many barks also have antiseptic properties, which is to say; next time you cut yourself, skimp on the antiseptic cream and drink some vermouth instead.

Seeds are used in the production of vermouth for one very simple reason: spice. They bring a lovely warming characteristic that can be reminiscent of mulled wine and apple pie. Seeds are quite often dried to intensify their flavour so, generally speaking, a little goes a long way.

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Artemisia absinthium, or Grand Wormwood, is used in vermouth as well as absinthe. In fact, under EU legislation it is required that A vermouth use at least a species of the Artemisia genus in order to be called a vermouth.

Besides being mandatory under the law, there are other reasons why vermouth producers harness wormwood. One is the bitterness. For novice bartenders, the importance of balancing sweet, sour and bitter flavours in cocktails cannot be overstated, and it’s one of the first things they learn how to do.

The base of vermouth is wine, which contributes acid and sugar. A third, bitter element is needed to ensure harmony of flavour, and that is wormwood.

This botanical is perfect because, unlike a lot of other bitter plants, it has an amazing aromatic profile. Think soft anise, mint and sage all rolled into one, lifted with the smell of fresh orange flowers. Wormwood not only balances out everything else in vermouth, it provides the backbone for those flavours to sit on.

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