Aromas de montserrat
Following the tradition of many monasteries in Europe, the Monasterio de Montserrat used to produce an alcoholic beverage which is called 'Aromes de Montserrat' or 'Aromas of Montserrat'. This Spanish liqueur is produced with 12 different herbs and can be found on sale in the region of Catalonia, and some other locations across Spain. Originally produced as a digestive drink for private consumption by the monks, this drink has become commercialised and popular throughout the country.
Today, the Aromes de Montserrat can be found across Catalonia and is easy to spot in its characteristic green bottle with its bright silver label- so keep an eye out for it if you ever visit Barcelona or anywhere else in the Spanish region of Catalonia. The liqueur is usually served very cold or with ice. It is advised however that you do not drink more than 100ml per day - always make sure that you drink with moderation.
History of Aromes de Montserrat
Unlike the rest of the European monasteries that produce alcohol, there is actually very little known about the origins of the drink in this particular monastery. It is believed by some that the monks themselves came up with the recipe for the drink, following the traditional Benedictine practise. Others believe that a foreign monk who was transferred to the monastery brought the recipe with him. The most common belief is that a foreign monk brought a similar recipe with him to the Monastery of Montserrat, which was then adpated by the monks to produce their own version.
However what is clear is that its digestive properties were highly valued and therefore the Spanish liqueur began to be made on a commercial scale. Before this, the drink had been produced for the exclusive use of the monks at the monastery as well as any pilgrims who had journeyed there. The drink is also believed to help lower cholesterol; however that is not an excuse to start drinking it! It still has a high alcohol percentage and should therefore be drunk in moderation. At first, the production was limited to the monastery and then later, to the Can Castells building which is located outside of the monastery grounds.
In recent years, the production of Aromes de Montserrat has been taken over by the Anís del Mono de Badalona factory from Barcelona; the same company that makes Anís del Mono. Despite this, the drink is still made in the same way as before, including using the original stills from the monastery.
The only other change that has been made to the drink is the ingredients. When the Aromes de Montserrat first began being made at the monastery, the recipe was a mixture of 15 different ingredients, whereas today, they only use 12. Also today, most people do not drink Aromes de Montserrat as a digestive aid, but it is much more commonly used in cooking and pastry making.
Production of Aromes de Montserrat
The Aromes de Montserrat liqueur is made from a number of herbs being distilled in a alcohol which has an alcohol content of around 31%. The herbs used include lavender, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, juniper, and coriander. Other ingredients include water and sugar.
This Spanish liqueur is still made using the traditional method which has been used for over a century, as well as almost the original recipe as when it first began. The herbs are distilled in copper stills called alambiques before being transferred to oak barrels where the mixture can mature and age.
If you want to find out more about the history of the production of the Aromes de Montserrat, you can always pay a visit to the monastery where you will receive a guided tour. The tour will take you around the factory where they make the drink, as well as the other products they make including Crema Catalana, Licor de Avellana, Ratafia, Anís and Herbes. Don't forget that to get the best information and the best experience, it is often a good idea to learn some Spanish for these kinds of tours, which are often provided in Spanish only.