Rich, fruity, generous, the Guignolet of Anjou is one of the precious liqueurs of France, an iconic drink made with the highly perfumed local wild cherries of the region. Straight and lightly chilled as a before dinner drink or mixed into a cocktail, this unique libation, whose original version is distilled in Anjou by the Distillerie Combier, is a refreshing alternative to the usual litany of before-dinner drinks.
The Guignolet story all began back in the 17th century in the heart of the Benedictine Monastery, La Fidelité de Saumur. Mother Madeleine Gautron was chosen to be the prioress there when she was just 23-years-old and she would remain in the position for 42 years. To make their way in life the cloistered nuns worked, notably making their liqueur, the highly sought after Guignolet of Anjou, a refined drink made from local wild cherries, the guignes, typical of the region. The monastery located just 350 meters from the Combier Distillery has disappeared, the liqueur that was made there remains. It was this recipe that her descendant Georges Gautron is said to have entrusted to James Combier in 1890. Today the house perpetuates the tradition using the guignes cherries from the region. It is a drink that is an abundance of fruit, just the way the Mother Superior, Madeleine Gautron, probably imagined it.
Founded in 1834 in Saumur — where it remains today — The Combier Distillery is one of the oldest in the Loire Valley. Its location offers the house the capacity to obtain fresh local fruits in a region that is known as The Garden of France.
©The Gourmet Gazette
Categories: Gourmet Fare