Hydromel – one of the oldest drinks around

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 - 1:09 am
By Colin

I was on vacation last month and walked into a honey shop….

badump bump.  

No, there is no punch line. 

I was in Bayonne, France, and really did walk into a store entirely dedicated to honey products.  Honeys, honey soaps, honey body creams, honey face creams, honey sauces, honey liquors, honey homeopathic remedies…

Honey stores are rare. I can’t recall having ever seen another. So I felt this deserved a look.

The money honey, who ran and owned the place, gave us an exceedingly enthusiastic tour of her hive.  It had the desired effect:  we were so impressed with her energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of apiculture, that we bought a few uncommon honey products. I didn’t buy any straight honey, because I can get that anywhere.

Instead, I bought a bottle of hydromel, a fermented honey alchohol which has been around since the bronze age. (Was still new to me! :-)) I got the bottle with the strongest proof, 13 degrees. If nothing else, it would have an effect.

Turns out that wasn’t such a bad decision. I think, in a sense, hydromel might be the francophone world’s fancy answer to moonshine.

This is a very rich drink, a desert liquor that takes the place of the desert — well, duh, it’s from honey. It’s very smooth, but with some peculiar taste. Imagine a subtle after-taste of burnt caramel with your sweet wine. That’s the best I could place it.

I understood why it isn’t all the rage, even though it’s been around for ever. Nevertheless, what it’s lacking in taste, it makes up for in effectiveness. It goes down gently, and moments later there’s a knock in your head. The brand I got was Kirikino I Largian.

I also bought a small jar of honey for athletes, called Apinergie.  According to the label, “Cet aliment energetique naturel convient a toute personne ayant des activites physiques ou intellectuelles intenses.”  Hmm.  The honey does taste more intense.  It’s like honey concentrate.

Lastly, going out on a further limb, I picked up a fig jam, and a jar of spicy hot pimento jam (??), both of which are blended with honey, and both of which I have yet to try. 

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