Spirit drinks
Herbes de Mallorca

The Arabs discovered and promoted efforts to distil alcohol back in the 9th century. The discovery spread to Europe at a later date (in the 12th and 13th centuries) thanks to Venetian traders. Monasteries and ecclesiastical orders played an important role in producing distillates and originally they were used for healing and medicinal purposes.

In Mallorca, in the late 13th century, the native islander Ramon Llull made significant contributions to the distillation process. In the late 18th century there were 177 stills on the island used for making spirits, producing some 780,000 litres, 60% of which was directed at local consumption. In the 19th century drinks were exported to other places including South America. At the end of the same century, when the manufacture and consumption of herbes became more popular and more widespread, several distilleries were opened that still exist today. At present the island has a big network of production facilities, making spirits that are highly valued by both islanders and visitors alike.

These products form part of Mallorca's local festivities, customs and traditions. In the regulation containing stipulations on this geographical designation, Herbes de Mallorca is defined as an aniseed-flavoured liqueur mainly made with different aromas extracted from local plants like fennel, rosemary, lemon verbena, camomile, lemon balm and orange and lemon trees. The origin of herbescan be traced back to monastery life, where friars made a wide range of liqueurs and spirits using herbs and fruits. In the mid and late 18th century, Mallorcan agricultural workers on the island's rural estates made their own herbes, thanks to the existence of numerous stills that supplied the aniseed spirit. Later liquor factories were created with high production levels, even though it is still common for homemade herbesto be made for non-commercial consumption, using recipes appropriate for each family's personal tastes. Traditionally this aniseed-flavoured liqueur is very popular in Mallorca, both on an industrial and domestic level. In the year 2002 the regulation for the Herbes de Mallorca Geographical Designation was approved, thus protecting this geographical name, whilst also preventing unfair competition and guaranteeing the quality of the product.


The manufacturing process Herbes de Mallorca is made by mixing an aniseed-flavoured spirit with a hydroalcoholic solution to which aromas have been added by a process of maceration and/or by the distillation of aromatic plants. The fundamental ingredients of Herbes de Mallorca are:


  1. An aniseed-flavoured spirit
  2. Ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin
  3. Water
  4. Aromatic plants: lemon verbena, camomile, orange and lemon trees, rosemary, lemon balm and fennel, all grown on the island Herbes de Mallorca - Balearic Islands - Agrifoodstuffs, designations of origin and Balearic gastronomy of Mallorca.

Herbes de Mallorca is manufactured and bottled solely and exclusively on the island of Mallorca.

Its sensorial properties Herbes de Mallorca has a green to amber colour with different degrees of intensity and hints of colour, with a rich blend of aromas that envelop its aniseed fragrance. Many different degrees of sweetness are available so that all consumers can find the one they most prefer.


The chemical properties of Herbes de Mallorca The regulation with stipulations on the Herbes de Mallorca geographical designation defines it as having the following chemical properties:

  • Alcohol content: 20-50% vol.
  • Max. methyl alcohol content: 0.5 g/hl of alcohol per 100% vol.
  • Max. degree of volatile impurities: - esters (expressed as ethyl acetate): 300 ppm; - aldehydes (expressed as acetaldehyde): 90 ppm; - volatile acidity (expressed as acetic acid): 150 ppm; - furfural: 15 ppm; higher alcohols (expressed as amyl alcohol): 225 ppm.
  • Max. heavy metal content: - arsenic: 0.8 ppm; - lead: 1 ppm; - zinc: 10 ppm; - copper: 10 ppm. The total heavy metal content expressed as lead may not rise above 40 ppm.


Types of Herbes de Mallorca Depending on the sugar and alcohol content, we can distinguish between three different types of Herbes de Mallorca:

  • Herbes dolces: with a minimum 20% alcohol content and a minimum 300 g/litre of sucrose.
  • Herbes mesclades: with a minimum 25% alcohol content and a sugar content of between 100 and 300 g/litre. This variety was created in response to a demand by consumers in bars for a blend of sweet and dry Herbes. Waiters used to take a bottle in each hand and skilfully pour them into a glass at the same time, so that they mixed together.
  • Herbes seques:: with a 35% minimum alcohol content and a maximum 100 g/litre of sucrose.


The control system


To use the Herbes de Mallorca designation on their labels, manufacturers must be listed on the Geographical Designation Register, supervised by the Directorate General of Rural and Marine of the Balearic Government Department of Agriculture, Environment and Territory. Herbes de Mallorca manufacturers must use a record system, with the prior authorization of the Directorate General of Rural and Marine, that guarantees the identification and traceability of aniseed-flavoured spirits commercialized with the Herbes de Mallorca geographical designation. Every year Herbes de Mallorca manufacturers must submit a declaration to the Directorate General of Rural and Marine on a standardized form, indicating their stocks, output and sales of Herbes de Mallorca.

Herbes de Mallorca - Balearic Islands - Agrifoodstuffs, designations of origin and Balearic gastronomy
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