Experimental Kumquat Liqueurs

The kumquat tree is absolutely dripping with fruit right now. Some of the neighbors have come to pick fruit and I’ve made one batch of marmalade so far, but there are just so many kumquats.

Years ago I took a class on making homemade fruit liqueurs that included a tasting tray of liqueurs made with different alcohol bases: white rum, cheap vodka, everclear, and white brandy. The white brandy-based liqueurs were smoother by far with cleaner fruit and spice flavors. That tasting made a deep impression on me. Even though I’ve had the urge to make liqueurs since then, there’s been no white brandy to be found. The last batch of kumquat liqueur used cupcake vodka, which was yummy with some ice and soda, but not a sipping drink.

Well, over the holidays my sister and I happened to drop by the liquor store in my old neighborhood and I was perusing the shelves to see if there was anything I wanted to pick up to make cocktails. I was thinking about making sidecars and looking at cognacs… and spotted a bottle of clear Armagnac. I had never noticed Armagnac before and asked the clerk about it, who said “Oh yeah, it’s white brandy”. I clutched the bottle in my hands, cackled like a madwoman, and danced out of that store. Finally the white brandy was mine!

Kumquat Liqueurs

Three months is the minimum aging time for mellow liqueurs. My husband and I are going camping for a week in March with a few thousand of our closest friends. It’s the best time of the year to share special drinks- no one’s driving anywhere! I made these just in time.

Kumquat- Vanilla Liqueur

2 packed cups of sliced and seeded kumquats
1/2 of one good vanilla bean
375 ml Domaine D’Esperance Blanche Armagnac
1/2 c raw cane sugar
1/2 c water

Fill a 32 oz mason jar halfway with the cleaned and sliced fruit. Slit the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a very sharp knife and poke the halves down into the fruit. Pour the brandy over the fruit, shaking the jar to settle the fruit under the level of the alcohol. Screw on a lid and put in the back of the pantry for six weeks, shaking every few days.

Then make a simple syrup by simmering together the sugar and water just until the sugar is fully combined. Let it cool completely. Strain the liqueur into another container using a fine mesh strainer if you don’t mind the vanilla seeds, or through a coffee strainer if you want your liqueur absolutely clear. Discard the solids. Then add the simple syrup, put back in the jar, and put it back into the pantry unmolested for at least six more weeks. Then drink!

Kumquat- Thyme Liqueur

2 packed cups of sliced and seeded kumquats
4-5 stems of fresh thyme
375 ml Domaine D’Esperance Blanche Armagnac
1/2 c raw cane sugar
1/2 c water

Fill a 32 oz mason jar halfway with the cleaned and sliced fruit. Run a rolling pin over the stems of thyme, lightly crushing them to release their essential oils. Push the whole stems down into the fruit. Pour the brandy over the fruit, shaking the jar to settle the fruit under the level of the alcohol. Screw on a lid and put in the back of the pantry for six weeks, shaking every few days.

Then make a simple syrup by simmering together the sugar and water just until the sugar is fully combined. Let it cool completely. Strain the liqueur into another container using a fine mesh strainer. Discard the solids. Then add the simple syrup, put back in the jar, and put it back into the pantry unmolested for at least six more weeks. Then drink!