Correction: Fig and aniseed liqueur. Hrmmmm.
Mahia actually is a general term for anise liqueur in (Algerian) French, and this spirit (produced in New York) is inspired by that traditional liqueur — distilled from fermented figs — which is made in Morocco.
It should come as no surprise then that Mahia comes across primarily not as with its figs at the forefront but rather the anise which is steeped in the spirit as a flavoring agent.
The anise is pastis-heavy on the nose, not pungently complex in an absinthe way but distinctly and straightforwardly licorice-fueled on the nose. On the palate, it’s even more like chewing on a Panda licorice candy, sweeter than the nose would indicate but drying and lightly bitter on the finish. Some added spice comes along late, mainly of the savory — pepper, cardamom — variety.
What’s lacking is much in the way of figs — you get hints of them in the initial sweetness on the tongue — or much in the way of balance. I’ve been a bit baffled over how to put Mahia to good use. It has nothing in the way of fig flavor that would come through in a cocktail, and it lacks the sweetness that would make it a suitable pastis substitute.