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Onilikan’s Myrtle Berry Liqueur

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Sinaloa’s agricultural vocation provides us with a variety of raw material for making liqueurs, all of them of very high quality including the delicious myrtles berries (arrayanes), today’s topic.  Before coming to Sinaloa I had heard of but never seen a myrtle fruit.  So just in case any of you are in the same situation, here I share a short description.  The myrtle can be described as a small tree or big bush, rather thin, white flowers, in Sinaloa yields tiny, but very aromatic, waxy yellow fruits, they look like tiny guavas.

They say that the name ” Arrayan” comes from the Arabic ar – Rayhan or Rihan which means ” aromatic ” and interestingly the term Myrtle (Mirto in Spanish) comes from the Greek ” myrtos ” meaning perfume, which I imagine is also descriptive of a very aromatic plant.  The scent of the plant seems to be legendary, and to prove,  I share with you some trivia that I think emphasizes the impact of the aromatic qualities of this plant / fruit.  For starters the Myrtle gets mentioned in Old Testament as the material to male garlands used in special ceremonies, and Theophrastus, Aristotle’s pupil assigned to do his successor at the Lyceum, mentions this plant as one that he longed its aromas.

In al- Andalus (the Iberian Peninsula region under Muslim rule during the Middle Ages, between 711 and 1492) it was a popular plant used for its healing properties, its taste and it was used to produce a king of wine obtained by macerating fruit and leaves, which was used as an appetizer. This liquor was called Mirtídano , Latin Myrtibanum and it is said that if you drank this wine before taking other spirits you would not get drunk. The Mirtídano is still produced in some Muslim countries.   Also as a legacy of the Muslim  influence in Spain the Alhambra palace in Granada has a famous Myrtles Garden and the name of the Spanish city of Murcia is apparently a name of Latin origin which derives from Myrtea or Murtea meaning “place of myrtle ” or ” where myrtles grow . “

Currently Myrtle Berry Liqueurs are well known in Italy and apparently very popular and traditional island of Sardinia where they make it by maceration Myrtle berries or a mixture of fruit and leaves of the same plant. On the island of Sardinia it is traditionally served as a digestive after a meal and offered very cold. And on that same island in the village of Telti every year they have a festival for the tasting Mirto, which is like the Sardinians, call the liquor of Myrtle liqueur.

Returning to Sinaloa, where we have the good fortune to have access to Arrayan we have made a liqueur at Onilikan, Artisan Liqueurs of Mazatlan following the tradition of fruit maceration, much like they did in-Andalus and still currently done in Sardinia . Unfortunately I cannot share its taste electronically but I promise you that its unique and delicious flavor is worth the trip to taste it in Mazatlan.

Saludos y salud

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