Ginjinha or simply Ginja is one of Portugal’s national drinks. It is a liqueur made from cherries (ginja ~ sour cherry), produced only from natural ingredients, i.e. no dyes or other preservatives besides sugar have been used. The cherries have been extracted in strong alcohol, which is most commonly aguardiente, i.e. the distillate which is made from wine leftovers. Seasoned with various spices, of which clove and cinnamon are the most common. Traditionally, the liqueur is bottled in a bottle half filled with cherries. About 150,000 liters of ginjinha are produced per year, of which 90% is drunk in Portugal and only 10% is exported. Licóbidos is one of the producers of this traditional product. The family company was founded in 1949 and over the decades has grown also in the agricultural side. More than 20,000 sour cherry trees grow on the company’s premises, the main part of which is used to make liqueur. Mariquinhas was received as a Christmas present and is the most expensive berry liqueur I have ever tasted, a 50 cl bottle costs €28.
Mariquinhas is dark red in color, like ruby port. The nose has cherry and cinnamon. The mouthfeel is thick and the liqueur is very sweet. Cinnamon and other spices partly cover the cherry aroma. There is also a bit of blackcurrant or other berry aroma. The aftertaste has the dry aroma of wine berry distillate. The alcohol bites surprisingly strongly, even though it is only 18% ABV and a thick sugary product. The alcohol used in the production is not really any neutral column-distilled rectified spirit. Even though the liqueur is thickly sugary, it still has enough cherry acidity that the taste is not too sweet. It’s nice to drink a glass over a meal, but the second one is already too much.
Mariquinhas is an intense experience and far away from the many times cheapest liqueurs which can be found on the bottom-self in supermarkets.. From this you can clearly feel that the liqueur has really been produced by long and diligent maceration, and not by mixing juice, sugar and rectified spirit which is the common way nowadays unfortunately. Whole cherries are also seen at the bottom of the bottle. Cinnamon and other spices have been used a bit too much, I would think that this would be even better if the cherry aroma would be more pure. I also tried Mariqunhas in different cocktails and it really has enough taste. Even a small amount brings cherry aroma and also color to the drink. An excellent and original product and it is also worth the price, if you appreciate high-quality liqueurs.