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New local liqueurs celebrate fresh fruit

Peach No. 4 from Blended Family Spirits wraps subtle aromas of honeysuckle around bold peach flavors.
Peach No. 4 from Blended Family Spirits wraps subtle aromas of honeysuckle around bold peach flavors.

Credit: Angela Hansberger

Credit: Angela Hansberger

Georgia’s Blended Family Spirits captures taste and smell in a bottle

There is an ephemeral loveliness to orchards and brambles in late spring and early summer in Georgia, with sweet-smelling honeysuckle vines scenting the air. Peach season is much anticipated, and so very fleeting. While it’s here, we see them piled high at the market, and as part of many restaurant specials.

If only there were a way to capture that taste and smell in a bottle.

Enter the new Blended Family Spirits Peach No. 4. The straw-colored liqueur has strong flavors of natural peach, with subtle wafts of honeysuckle that perfume and add depth of flavor to a finish that clings to the palate.

“I wanted it to evoke Georgia in the springtime,” operating partner Scott Mayer said. To accomplish this, he used a Japanese technique for making plum wine that he read about and applied to peaches. “In Japan, they often use jasmine as a back note for plum wine. I use honeysuckle for a similar result in No. 4,” he said.

Each bottle has 2/3 lb. of peaches, sourced from the Southeast as much as possible. Mayer macerates the fruit in grain-neutral spirits and deionized water (purified to remove dissolved mineral salts). The liquids are strained and filtered. Cane sugar and natural flavors — like herbs, spices, flowers, and even vegetables — then are added. He strains it again, and it gets bottled.

“I’ve been making my own cordials and liqueurs since 2009, when I lived in Miami,” Mayer said. Friends and co-workers have encouraged him since that time to bottle them. But, running beverage programs, jobs with spirit companies, moving back to Atlanta, and having a second child put his fruit liqueurs on the back burner.

“Last summer, everything fell into place after I made and shared a few samples with friends in the industry,” he said.

Mayer quickly was introduced to three guys building a distillery in Roswell. He began a partnership with Rob, Greg and Mike Chandler, and Blended Family Spirits started in a building on Oak Street.

Mayer wanted to distinguish the brand from the mostly European fruit liqueurs on the market. He reached out to Krista Lark Slater to create a design for the small-batch product. She is the co-owner of the Expat in Athens and also holds a degree in visual art/art history. She used to work in large-scale surreal urban landscapes, but now creates mostly pen and ink drawings or watercolors. “He wanted more dynamic imagery, so I did my style of illustrations with those marching orders,” Slater said.

In her role as a bartender, Slater thinks the liqueurs play nicely in cocktails, particularly the minimalist style of drinks she mixes at the Expat. “I really appreciate how light and vibrant they are,” she said. “They are much more pleasant as sipping liqueurs than more unctuous styles out there that are only palatable in a cocktail.”

Current bottlings of  Blended Family Spirits include raspberry, peach and blueberry liquers, and more flavors are in the works.
Current bottlings of Blended Family Spirits include raspberry, peach and blueberry liquers, and more flavors are in the works.

Credit: Courtesy Blended Family Spirits

Credit: Courtesy Blended Family Spirits

The Raspberry No. 8 and Blueberry No. 22 both are bright and tart, with just the right amount of berry richness. The raspberry is lush, tasting of the delicate berries in peak season. It’s great in a spritzer, or as a component in a classic Clover Club cocktail. Or, you simply can sip the raspberry liqueur as a cordial after dinner.

The blueberry liqueur similarly isolates the flavor of fresh blueberries. It has the complexity and dimension of crushed berries, mixed with understated notes of tarragon. Blueberry No. 22 would make a tasty bramble cocktail, or could be drizzled over desserts, like a blueberry crumble or just vanilla ice cream.

You can find suggested drink recipes at blendedfamilyspirits.com. New flavors are on the way, as well. Mayer is working on a triple sec, using Florida oranges, white cacao, a coffee collaboration and pecan praline.

As for the name, why Blended Family? “I struggled with finding a name that resonated with me and what is important,” Mayer said. “I have eight siblings, some step, some halfs, some are full. They are all amazing people that create my family, of which I am proud to be a part.” Meeting the Chandler brothers further cemented the idea in his head.

And, what do the numbers mean in No. 8, No. 4 and No. 22? “A company needs to have some secrets,” Mayer said.

Suggested retail price for Blended Family Spirits liqueurs: $24.99 per 750-milliliter bottle. Available at Alpharetta Street Bottle Shop, Brandon’s Package Store, Conley’s Wine and Spirits, HD Wine Spirits, Strong Water, the Spirits Co., Wine Shop at Parkaire, Jax Package Store and Kedron World of Beverage. blendedfamilyspirits.com

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