More subtle and floral in nature than its relatives Chartreuse and absinthe, génépy is made from “lesser” wormwoods that grow in craggy nooks at high elevations—a proclivity that makes the plants difficult to cultivate. After a single bloom in late summer, the white and yellow flowers are harvested and dried, stems on. Most commercially distilled génépy is made by macerating the dried flowers in high-proof neutral spirit and sweetening it into a liqueur. But a more obscure tradition, practiced in génépy’s place of origin, the Savoy and the adjacent Aosta Valley, calls for a wine base instead—it’s this interpretation that has long interested Aaron Fox and Daniel de la Nuez of Brooklyn’s Forthave Spirits.
After nearly 200 years as the reigning elixir of the Western Alps, génépy is forging a new identity in America at the hands of distillers with a thirst for lesser-known spirits. The inspiration, it seems, is infinite. “We’re always investigating new botanicals to work with,” says Fox. “Whether they’re inspired from history, our travels or found in our own backyard.”