Travelers in Spain’s La Rioja region may find themselves in the company of good spirits. This wine region is well-known for its rolling hills and vineyards, surrounded by leafy forests and mountains. Expansive hiking trails and wildlife make this an ideal spot for nature lovers. But tucked in the mountains of La Rioja, the Benedictine monastery of Valvanera welcomes guests to another kind of rural experience.
Monks at Valvanera distill a house liqueur on-site, which is rarely sold outside the region. To prepare Licor Valvanera, they dry fresh herbs collected from the area, which include chamomile and juniper. Then, they use the combination of botanicals to produce an herbal liqueur in their own distillery that’s 36 percent alcohol by volume. Tasters describe the finished product as minty and medicinal. Local bakeries feature the liqueur in their pastries, but the monks drink it straight.
Need to Know
The monastery endeavors down nonalcoholic paths, as well. This includes beekeeping (their honey is for sale) and housing pilgrims traversing the ancient Camino de Santiago route from Basque Country toward Northwestern Spain.
Where to Try It
Monastery of Our Lady of ValvaneraCarretera LR-435, Anguiano, 26322, Spain
This monastery produces the one and only Licor Valvanera.