Native to southeast Europe and southwest Asia, Licorice root is one of the most widely used herbs today. Licorice (alternatively spelled liquorice) comes from the root of a perennial plant native to a large swath of Eurasia. It takes nearly three years for a licorice root to be ready for harvesting, requiring several years of growth.
Liquorice is popular in its native regions as both a sweetener and component of natural medicine. It’s particularly of interest in gin, because the root itself is thought to have been widely used as a sweetening agent in early gins, including some Old Tom styles.
Licorice has a distinctive flavor, similar to anise or fennel, but with a pronounced additional sweetness. It’s used in gins for both its flavor and for the sweetening effect.
That distinctive licorice flavor - spicy, earthy, bittersweet - is all the rage in craft cocktails. Licorice root is a regular ingredient in amari, aperitivi, and bitters of all stripes. And the root itself has a far milder flavor than other spices (star anise, aniseed, fennel seed, even tarragon) that deliver a licorice flavor.
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Botanical Name: Glycyrrhiza Glabra
Also known as: Liquorice or Sweet Root
Country of Origin: South Africa