Perique Liqueur de Tabac is a 31% abv. / 62 proof liqueur made for Jade Liqueurs by Distillerie Combier in France from Eau de vie de vin, distillation of Perique tobacco, and is sweetened with sugar. It has no other ingredients and is one of the most unusual, and lovely tasting liqueurs I have had the pleasure to experience. It is elegant, refined, but with a masculine touch.
The color is a very light amber/gold, strikingly similar to an old cognac. The aroma is unique, but with touches of cognac, woody tones, Perique tobacco, spices, and briny sea air. In addition I was surprised and intrigued by a complex base of fermented notes in the aroma which bring to mind just a touch of belacan or bagoong alamang suspended pleasantly within. Some could think this a negative aroma, but as in the iodine brine of a good seaside single malt Scotch, it adds a unique touch that brings the other components together.
The taste is sharp, but smooth, with a mild sweetness that balances the fire in the liqueur. The tangy fermented Perique tobacco comes through more so than in the aroma, as do the hints of spices. Then it has a woody finish combined with fine leather, as if you were sitting in an old leather armchair, in a cozy library where your favorite grandfather had smoked his pipe a few hours before.
I gave samples to several people to try, all of them connoisseurs of fine spirits, without telling them what it was they were going to taste. Unanimously they loved the liqueur and were pleased to taste one that wasn't overwhelmingly sweet, and exclaimed over the dry, complex, and spicy taste. Everyone agreed that this is a very unusual and most interesting liqueur, and we all loved it. I was pulled aside at one point or another and requested to get more of it. Sadly I broke the news about how limited the availability was.
If you aren't familiar with Perique tobacco, then you wouldn't associate tobacco with this exquisite liqueur. But if you are familiar with its taste and aroma, then it is unmistakable. I have a nice fresh bag of pure St. James Parish Louisiana Perique tobacco here on my desk beside my glass of Perique liqueur, and going back and forth I can clearly smell the similarity. Although interestingly enough the tobacco actually smells sweeter that the liqueur. I keep coming back to the fact that the liqueur is at the dryer end of the spectrum of liqueurs with only a touch of sweetness, just enough to balance out the mélange of flavors. If you like a fine aged cognac, or a dry and spicy single malt Scotch with a touch of seaside iodine, and spice based liqueurs like Drambuie and Benedictine; but don't want the sweetness of those two, then Perique Liqueur de Tabac is the liqueur for you.
I was told by Fabian Bourgeois of Jade Liqueurs that it took around 1 ½ years to develop the liqueur. When I asked him for details he was hesitant because he didn't want to reveal any of the trade secrets in making this fabulous creation. He did say, "What I can tell you is that Perique is crafted from an eau de vie du vin from the Loire Valley, and of course, fermented Perique tobacco from St. James Parish, Louisiana. The flavoring of Perique Liqueur is entirely comprised of these two elements, with a small concentration of sugar for balance. The process is conducted in such a manner that as far as our testing to this
point indicates, Perique is nicotine free."
I expect to read more about it in the future, and I heard on the grapevine that Gourmet will be doing an article on it in their April or May issue this coming Spring. À votre santé.