Il Menhir – maker of liqueurs and bath salts

by admin on 02/10/2012

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We met Rosa outside the house in which she produces, stores and packages her products, that is liqueurs and bath salts. Being a person full of initiative and having done courses on aromatic, medicinal plants and phytocosmetics (cosmetics in which most of ingredients are of vegetable origin), she decided to found her firm in 2000. Transforming plants into liqueurs is quite complex and the following is meant as an introduction only.

A plant excretes particular chemical substances and an essential oil from the same plant can have two chemotypes, one beneficial, for instance for the skin, while the other one can be toxic at high and extended doses.

Chemotypes are products of adaptation due to varied ambient conditions in which the same species can find itself growing: a specific chemical production allows the plant to better exploit the soil in which it is growing, defend itself against parasites and be more resistant against diseases.

Rosa never uses the seeds of a plant and always tried to maintain the chemotype and typology of the mother plant.

When she started her activity she collaborated with the Universities of Sassari and Cagliari in order to optimize the methods of transformation of medicinal plants into liqueurs with natural colourings while her partner Francesi has learnt how to do the distillation of the herbs in a repeatable way.

All the herbs are picked near Laconi by Rosa and with help from friends and relatives. The harvest is done in the balmy season, that is when the plants has the highest concentration of essential oils and active substances. Some of the balmy seasons are as follows:

  • rosemary – from June to September
  • thyme – the whole of August
  • angustifolium – one week in June
  • myrtle – December

After the harvest, the berries and the herbs are put in an infusion where the time it will stay depends on the type of plant (more time for berries, less for herbs). Then, the liquid is let out, while the solids are kept.

Infusions are a kind of dye which Rosa uses for colouring her products such that they can be distinguished by sight. For example, she produces an almost black thyme, a dark green juniper, a light green fennel and a yellow mountain thyme.

In order to make liqueurs, the berries are macerated and mixed with 95 % alcohol. After about 20 days, the infusion is removed and the remains are diluted with water and sugar. How the last operation is done depends on what the requirements are and if one wants a more or less sweet liqueur. In any case, the maximum alcoholic percentage is 55%.

Rosa produces the following liqueurs:

In order to make bath salts. Rosa buys sea salt and mixes it with water, essential oil and a fixative of natural origin. Finally she adds a natural colourant and puts it in a bottle.

She produces bath salts based on the following essential oils:

  • rosemary – splendid fragrance, relaxing, cures muscular pain
  • laurel – aids in removing impurities from the skin
  • mint – fragrant and refreshing

The products of Rosa are sold in some restaurants, in shops selling typical products from Sardinia and directly from her firm, often as Christmas presents. Both bottles and labels are made in accordance with the simplicity of the products.

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