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The deeply black, herbal Spirit that is the national drink of Latvia.
JSC Latvijas Balsams does one thing, and one thing only — they produce a range of traditional Latvian Spirits called Balsams. Their core, signature Black Balsam is thought to be the oldest botanical bitter Spirit still in production. The original recipe was created in 1752 by Abraham Kunze who lived in Riga, Latvia, at the time. A pharmacist by profession, he compiled a wide range of twenty-four botanicals to craft a therapeutic Digestif or Aperitif. Aside from an interruption during World War II, it has been in content production ever since. Often imitated, never equalled, it is the national Spirit of Latvia.
Riga Black Balsam Original is made from twenty-four botanicals that are traditionally used as natural remedies. The list includes Peruvian balsamic oil, birch, peppermint, wormwood, ginger, bitterwort, oak bark, St John’s wort, bitter orange zest, nutmeg, black pepper, sweet flag, tilia, bilberries, raspberries, lemon balm, gentia flowers, golden withy (bog myrtle), linden blossoms, and buckbean flowers. The other four are still a mystery. These botanicals are infused in the barrel, then brought to proof at 45% ABV and lightly sweetened with caramelized sugar and honey. It is famous for its deep black hue, ceramic bottles, and singular flavor profile.
The full recipe is a closely-held secret — only the Head Liquor Master and his apprentices know the exact formulation.
Appearance / Color
Nose / Aroma / Smell
The fragrance is deeply complex with layer upon layer of fruits, florals, and herbals over an earthy sweetness.
Flavor / Taste / Palate
Unlike anything else, it has flavor elements from Vermouth and Absinth underpinning notes of rose water, elderflower, blueberry cobbler, and sandalwood.
The finish is long, herbal, and lightly sweet.
The Flavor Spiral™ shows the most common flavors that you'll taste in Riga Black Balsam Original and gives you a chance to have a taste of it before actually tasting it.
We invented Flavor Spiral™ here at Flaviar to get all your senses involved in tasting drinks and, frankly, because we think that classic tasting notes are boring.