Ute Londrigan is the founder of Heimat NY, a small-batch fruit liqueur producer based in the quiet suburbs of New York, ideally situated between the bustling city and the lush and diverse fruit farms further north. The launch of Heimat NY in November 2018 seems almost predestined, as Londrigan carries the torch of the craft of artisanal fruit liqueur production that she witnessed in her grandmother’s kitchen growing up in Germany. “Natural,” therefore, has an almost idyllic criteria in her ethos: Respecting only what the seasons have to offer and when they determine the time is right. (And within reach of your own backyard.)
When Londrigan decided it was time to start her own venture, she adopted this homage to the terroir to her current home state of New York, directly and carefully sourcing from local farms with a production schedule that fully aligns with the natural seasons of the fruits harvested for their liqueurs. Her “backyard” is a bit bigger than her grandmother’s, but the process remains very much hands-on, hand-picked and produced in small batches, naturally. Natural also means using the whole fruit, no extracts or juices (commonly used in conventional liqueur production to pump up the fruit flavor), nor additives, colors, or preservatives.
And for emphasis, no added sweetening agent of any kind. (The fruit, the whole fruit, and nothing but the fruit.)
Since 2018, Heimat’s line of core fruit liqueurs have expanded to include cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, and nectarine, with the latest addition of elderflower, amongst others. In 2021, Heimat introduced their limited edition barrel finished series, and Drinkhacker will inaugurate coverage of Heimat with its most recent offering of the Bosc Pear liqueur finished and aged for 13 months in peated bourbon barrels from King’s County distillery (based in Brooklyn, New York, of course).
First, an introduction of the Bosc Pear in their own words:
Heimat NY is proud to introduce its latest limited edition series of barrel finished liqueurs – Bosc Pear. Crafted in small batches, bosc pears are harvested in Hudson Valley at peak ripeness from a local family farm. The finished liqueur is then aged in peated bourbon barrels from Brooklyn-based Kings County Distillery for 13 months. The liqueur is elegantly rich with a deep pear flavor, notes of oak and vanilla, with a delicate smoky finish. The barrel aged series was developed as part of Heimat New York’s continual experimentation with new recipes and techniques, while staying true to the character of the individual fruit or flower. The liqueur is best enjoyed on the rocks, but equally as enjoyable in a Manhattan or your favorite pear cocktail. Our first barrel finished series was released in 2021. Cranberry and Pear liqueurs were aged in used bourbon and rye barrels from Van Brundt Distillery in Brooklyn.
And now, let’s see how this expression delivers:
The opening act is pretty much the same as the closing: delightfully rich in flavor and mouthfeel from start to finish. The nose is deceptively simple in its pleasant, fruity allure but has a touch of spice, a touch of oak, and a touch of vanilla that never quite stand out on their own. It’s like trying to pick apart the independent melody lines of a well-executed harmony. Bosc pear as a fruit has that intriguing and fragile characteristic of always being understated in its sweetness and body, a bit teasing but never wanting. This expression somehow maintains that allure even while being amplified, most likely owing to the result of deeper concentration of the natural pear flavors unadulterated by any other flavoring agent. What you get is a refreshing and satisfying display of caramelized pears poached in the vanilla and oak notes of the bourbon barrel. This liqueur can do no wrong. It is delightful as a straight slow sip; refreshing over ice as either an aperitif or digestif, but also incredibly sessionable. In cocktails, its alchemy is to elevate the balance of the ingredients.
If there ever was a perfect bottle of “something-something” to have on hand for any occasion, this would be it. It’s so perfect that, while I was in the process of this review, I unwisely offered some to guests that were recently over to “have a taste” and it was emptied before I could salvage some to complete my review. I went to the store to grab another bottle, which, honestly, I was more than delighted to do.
Update: Heimat liqueurs are in fact made with added sugar.
A+ / $45 per 375 ml bottle / heimatny.com