Pacharán is an aromatic liqueur made in Navarre, which was originally home-made, whose name comes from the old version of the Basque basarana which means sloe, the fruit from which the liqueur is made. The sloe shrub, a spiny plant with rough, dark branches, grows profusely in the central and southern areas of Navarre.
The liqueur is made by macerating anise with sloe berries
, an all round bluish-black fruit with a bitter taste, about the size of an almond. The fruit consists of the skin, pulp and stone and is a source of vitamin C. The sloes are collected in autumn
and it is essential to ascertain their level of ripeness to ensure the optimum extraction of colour and other substances.
The result of macerating the fruit in anise is a deep red coloured nectar which has been protected by a Specific Designation since 1988. Medicinal properties
have been attributed to pacharán since ancient times, as a stomach tonic and astringent for intestinal disorders. It is known, for example, that Queen Blanca of Navarre (1385 - 1441) took pacharán for its curative properties when she fell ill in the Monastery of Santa María de Nieva (Segovia province).
This 'elixir' puts the final touch to any truly Navarrese meal, and the keys to its success are its characteristic sweet and pleasant flavour
and low alcohol content. Some people add cinnamon, orange peel or coffee beans to enhance the sweetness.