Before I tell you anything more about this liqueur I am going to tell you a story. I make my own liqueurs as a hobby and four years ago I was hired to work as the hard cider maker for an award winning cider company and orchard. While there, I learned that pears don't ripen fully until they have been chilled almost to freezing. So pears left on the tree will just keep making sugar but have no nice flavor, until they are picked and chilled. But if picked and chilled; they ripen, soften, and develop their full flavor. Rarely a frost comes about and chills the fruit before they have a chance to be picked. In this case, if the pears aren't harvested immediately, and sold right away, you end up with a load of rotten fruit.
Well this happened with one tree that had only been half harvested. There was an minor overnight frost on the highest hills of the orchard, and all the workers were scurrying to harvest as much fruit from up there as possible to prevent loss. It seems that this one tree was overlooked. A few days later I was wandering the orchard, tasting apples to see which ones would be most suitable in the blend for my first large batch of cider. I ran across this small tree half covered with tiny, heirloom pears. The tree was over seventy years old and all gnarled and twisted. I picked one of the fruit and tasted it. It was perfectly soft, almost too much so, but at the peak of perfection, the taste was unbelievable. The richest and sweetest pear I have ever had. Full of complex pear flavors covered in honey. I had never tasted a pear this good and haven't since.
I hurriedly picked all the fruit and took it home to set it to steep in 100 proof vodka. A day or two later, while I was off for the weekend, there was a horrible fire at the cider house and practically the whole establishment burned down. Three 120-170 year old historically registered buildings, and every piece of equipment and tool were lost. All that was left was the slightly singed farm house, the slightly charred bakery building, and 95% of the orchard. It was a tragedy.
Well after a few weeks struggling to get over the fire, I realized that we wouldn't be making any cider for a few years. So I resigned. They couldn't afford to pay me and I didn't want to take their money since they could barely keep their head above water. They found out that they were way under insured, and only paid a penny on the dollar for what was destroyed by the fire. To make a long story even longer, after a year I realized that I had left the pears in a gallon jug in my basement. I looked in the container and all I saw was a nasty looking deep brown mess. The pears had completely dissolved into mush. But it smelled great. I was going to pour it down the drain when I said what the heck and tasted it. Aside from the nasty goo texture, it tasted pretty good. I spent several days filtering the mess until it was all liquid. It still didn't look too good, but it tasted nice, so I bottled it and put it away.
Like usual I forgot all about it until a year had passed. (Have you noticed in some of my posts that this seems to be a theme in my life?) I was going through my cellar and saw the bottles. The liquid had settled out and the bottom third of each one was a disgusting deep brown that looked horrible. But the top two thirds was a beautiful golden color. I filtered it again several times, each time getting more of the sediment out of the infusion. Finally it was crystal clear. I tasted it and was awe struck. It was amazing. I put it up into small bottles and served it in dribs and drabs over the past two years. Today I have about eight ounces of this magical elixir left, and I guard it jealously, only serving thimblefuls at a time to people who can really appreciate it. Well the reason I am telling you this story is that I finally found a commercial pear liqueur to rival my own.
The bottle of J Winery Pear Liqueur I have is a cute, small, and squat; with a long neck for its size. Over the neck, covering the cork, was a label stating that it is a Limited Offering, batch # N394697R. The color is a beautiful deep gold, burnished with bronze, just as you see in the photo.
The aroma is that of luscious sweet pears, combined with that of pears baked with a sprinkle of vanilla infused sugar, and just a dash of baking spices. An enchantingly complex mélange that kept me going back again and again for another inhalation of this deep golden aroma.
The taste is rich and bold, but smooth and soft. Just like the aroma it is full of fresh pears and spice baked ones, held together with a slight sharp tang of acidity that balances out the slight sweetness. It tastes so good that I realize I am bobbing up and down in my seat as I humm and buzz in enjoyment. It tastes like liquid gold, and the finish lasts for a good long time as it eases across my tongue and down my throat. I don't know how much more of this is available, but the next time I see any I will have to get several bottles, to stash away for special gusts and long winter nights in front of the fire.