Genepi, the secret comfort of many a Saas Valley resident
A little story about our alpine herbal liqueur. How we make it and why we drink it.
Throughout Europe’s Alpine regions, Genepi is well known. The Alpine herbal liqueur, flavoured with glacier wormwood (Artemisia glacialis), has been produced in the Alpine valleys of northern Italy, France, and Valais for centuries. In the Saas Valley, as with many other Alpine villages, it is a matter of pride and tradition for families to produce their own Genepi.
Sure, drinking wormwood tea can help with stomach problems and colds. But enjoying the herb’s healing effects as a liqueur is certainly more pleasant.
In July and August, the aromatic glacial wormwood flower tops, known locally as Edelraute, are harvested. They are then dried, chopped and added to a 40 percent alcohol solution to seep for at least 30 days. The herbs are then sieved, and sugar is added to sweeten the final liqueur. As a famous liqueur critic once said, “A good Genepi is a real pleasure. A bad one tastes like cough medicine.”
Flavio Anthamatten, a natural health practitioner from Saas-Grund, recommends a glass of Genepi from time to time because it “invigorates mind, body and soul.” Flavio also produces his own Genepi, which he supplies to Saas-Grund-based county rock band The Genepy. At their shows, the band likes to invite the audience to a tipple of their namesake.