We talked to Edith Giffard, the 4th generation of Giffard Liqueurs & Sirops, about the development of the brand business in Asia.
130 years of history
Giffard’s business was started in 1885 by Emile Giffard, who was a dispensing pharmacists in Angers (Val de Loire, France) at that time. He found refreshing properties in a special peppermint plant, Mitcham from England. It was so pure and fine, Emile decided to make it into a mint liqueur and tested his creation with the guests in the Grand Hotel near his pharmacy. The product was served to beat the heat during the summer time and received great response. Emile then decided to change his pharmacy into a distillery to produce this single product and named it after a very famous mint sweet at that time called Menthe-Pastille (mont pasti).
130 years later, with Edith, Bruno and Francis Giffard introduced to the family business, Giffard maintains its business within the family. The company is now producing 50 different types of liqueur and 74 types of syrups.
Giffard products are made from natural fruit maceration, natural flavours and 100% beet sugar. “We use fresh ingredients that have the best flavours and combine them with a traditional process that extracts the best essence of these flavours. This is why Giffard’s liqueurs retain the refreshing notes of taste and smell even after mixing with other liquids. We put the alcohol and fruits into the tank and we wait.” said Edith proudly.
The process can take from 24 hours to 3 months, depending on the type of ingredients used. Ingredients like ginger or lemon take about 24 hours to complete; strawberries and raspberry take about 2 months and harder fruits like peach or apricot take about 3 months. Giffard also uses sugar beet produced in France that allows them to control the sweetness of sugar level in their products.
Flavours which are very popular in Asia are lychee, rose, grapefruit, peach, and cucumber which carry refreshing flavours. For the past two years, Giffard has been doing R&D on an egg white syrup which has a life span of 2 years. The syrup is created mainly for easy transport and food safety. Giffard’s latest creation is Toffee Nut Syrup created for the growing demand in the coffee industry.
Acquisition of Bigallet
In April 2000, Giffard acquired another family run business which was founded the same year, the Bigallet Distillery. The latter was founded by Felix Bigallet to produce plant liqueurs using ingredients from the Alps such as the Génépe, Thyme and Vervian (China China). The last owner of the distillery, Dominique Bigallet sold the company to Giffard when he retired without an heir. He wanted the family business to be continued with the same values and mind set on the requirement for only using quality fresh ingredients for their products. Bigallet is based in Virieu-sur-Bourbe (Isère, South-East of France) with a plant of 30 people where workers today still peel fruits by hands just like a century ago when the distillery was founded.
Giffard still prides its brand very much on liqueurs even with the introduction of syrup production in the 1920s’. The long lasting taste and prime flavours are the reasons they are selected by many bartenders to create cocktails with. With alcohol volume up to 40%, Giffard’s Asia Brand Ambassador Tim Jason shows us how the liqueurs can be mixed into cocktails on its own without other base spirits.
Read on: 5 Cocktail recipes with Liqueurs