In 1885, Fernand Moureaux inherited a family distillery in Maisons- Alfort. In order to rescue the company from the brink of bankruptcy, he joined forces with Henri Porte, his bank manager's son, to create a new aperitif. The two men believed in the future of chilled aperitifs and the power of a brand, so together they strove to create a new sort of aperitif, going against the grain of what was fashionable at the time: instead of basing their aperitif on wine, they used a plant — gentian!
The idea was ingenious, and in the heat of the following summer, the gentian aperitif quickly drew many enthusiasts. It even won over Parisians when, in 1889, Fernand Moureaux presented his aperitif at the World's Fair and was awarded the prestigious gold medal. To mark the event, the pavement cafés of Paris were festooned with eye-catching orange, the signature colour of what would henceforth be known as "Suze". Does it bear the name of Fernand Moureaux's sister-in-law, who loved the gentian aperitif, or a small river in Switzerland close to where Fernand harvested the ingredients for this celebrated formula for the first time? In fact, the origin of the name Suze remains a mystery to this day.
The famous aperitif is now produced in our factory in Thuir, in the Pyrénées Orientales department of France. It is an outstanding architectural structure and used to be a marshalling yard for the Byrrh cellars, whose designer was none other than Gustave Eiffel!
The ceiling, which is a composition made of corrugated iron and nuts and bolts, leaves no doubt to the identity of its creator; it echoes the Garabit viaduct, and of course, the Eiffel Tower. The Thuir factory now produces the Byrrh, Suze and Pernod Absinthe brands.
SUZE, FROM GENTIAN HARVEST
For generations, Suze has been renowned for its original recipe and traditional production. Its aromatic complexity is the result of a subtle balance between fresh gentian and many different aromatic plant extracts. Suze is made from both farmed gentian and wild gentian..
There are two gentian farms: one in Auvergne and the other in Seine Maritime. The first gentian crops date back to 197. They need lots of attention because the plant takes minimum 10 years to reach full maturity. During its initial years, the plant needs protection, especially from other grasses, so that it can develop properly. Pioneer in the 1970's, Pernod-Ricard developed the cultivation of gentian in France and implemented a reasoned and responsible agriculture (without fertilizer and without irrigation). Pernod-Ricard is still today the only manufacturer to master such cultivation. The unique know-how allows us to limit our pressure on wild resource in order to be sustainable, to protect wild gentian and to control the quality and supply of the root.
When the gentian has been picked, it is washed, cut and left to macerate in alcohol for at least a year. The juice of the gentian is then extracted by pressing its roots. Next, this juice is distilled in a still following a process that has been specially designed for making Suze, and which gives the product its signature. Then comes the final blending stage, when the gentian is combined with other aromatics.
This mastery of raw ingredients, from the pastures or fields to the traditional production process, and the respect for the time needed for each stage give Suze its unrivalled organoleptic character. The sweetness and depth of the aromas allow the bitterness of the gentian to express itself fully.