A typically sweet & often un-aged spirit, sweetened & flavoured using a variety of fruit, herbs, spices, flowers, nuts and cream. Most liqueurs [also referred to as cordials or schnapps in different countries], have an alcohol content between 15–30% though some are considerably higher.
- De Kuyper is the 9th oldest family business in the Netherlands. Their story begins in 1695 when Petrus De Kuyper & Anna Custers open a cooperage making casks for gin and beer.
- In 1729, Jan de Kuyper [third son of Petrus & Anna] opens a distillery in Schledam making gin/genever, followed by Jan’s sons who buy another distillery in Rotterdam in 1769.
- The 1800’s sees the development of De Kuyper’s overseas exports to Britain and the Colonies, most notably by Matthew Clark & Sons.
- De Kuyper’s Cherry brandy is sold to Great Britain for the first time in the 1950’s.
- In 1998 De Kuyper becomes the world’s leading producer of liqueurs. Other owned brands include Triple Sec, Advocaat and many different flavoured schnapps products, liqueurs and cordials. Their products are sold in over 100 countries with annual sales of over 50,000,000 bottles.
De Kuyper Cherry Brandy Liqueur 24% [3cl]
‘Starting from the small, bitter Marasca cherries selected for the extraction to the added fine cherry brandy. By blending the extract and the spirit with warm flavours as vanilla, cinnamon, some almond, crushed cloves and cherry kernels, we created this instant classic liqueur. It’s cherries galore’. dekuyper.com
- N: All of the cherries [many heavily stewed], almonds, Bakewell tart, Listerine, flannels,….
- T: Cherry cough sweets [Tunes], Benylin,…
- F: … soon moves to redcurrant jelly and sherry trifle. Becomes Cognac-y/brandy-ish at the death with more cherry sweets coupled with bitter herbs lying underneath. Cherry tannic & medicinal to the last with a strange & lingering medicinal/TCP/lightly perfumed bar soap note.
- C: Not my style at all but no doubt ideal in cocktails. Here’s a recipe: 2 parts cherry liqueur, 4 parts vodka, 2 parts fresh lemon juice, 1 part sugar syrup.
Now to Italy
Montenegro Amaro Italiano 23%
wiki: Amaro Montenegro is a traditional amaro distilled in Bologna, Italy. It is made from a secret blend of 40 botanicals, including vanilla and orange peels. The amaro was first produced by Stanislao Cobianchi in 1885 and is named after Princess Elena of Montenegro.
- N: Of the 40 botanicals employed, what predominantly comes across is a Terry’s chocolate orange whisky liqueur with firm [bourbon-y] vanilla notes.
- T: Super-bitter>sour medicinal-vanilla with dominant clove, aniseed and some euthymol toothpaste.
- F: Only now does the sweetness properly kick in before a finishing flourish of heather, cloves, bitter sticks and bitter>sour medicinal herbs.
- C: A firmly bitter-biting alternative to commonly sweet liqueurs. Works fine as a digestif as well as in cocktails.
Staying in Italy:
Giuseppe Alberti liquore Strega no abv stated [3cl]
- N: Very possibly from the 1960’s, we’ve bold fennel with the addition of lime, sage, juniper, dried mint and icing sugar.
- T: Sweet=herbal on fennel & liquorice. Understandably dusty given the bottle condition/level.
- F: Still continuing on the sweet/herbal, the sweetness is something between candy [Wham] bars & icecream.
- C: Really nice old liqueur, more than acceptably intact despite nearly 50% oxidisation.
Now to Scotland
Glenturret Malt Liqueur Ob. 35% [5cl]
- N: Well well! This smells like a malt, a rich resinous<vibrant malty malt with notes of new laminated furniture, creamy emulsion, lovely straight grain, asparagus, a touch of bleach [that generic industrial citrus-y scent employed worldwide], burning caramel/treacle-varnish, dry earthy dunnage,… oh, that’ll do – let’s not complicate this. All you may want to know is, as liqueur’s go, it smells malt-ily moorish.
- T: It’s typically liqueur-y now, the sugars combining suitably with the malt base. However, there’s more than a feeling that the sugars are disguising what seems to be an underlying rough spirit, and water would seem to reveal a soapy profile. Back to it neat then, we’ve coffee liqueur and sweet malty sponge cake brimming with toppings and fillings. The [caramel] bitters are equal to the sugars.
- F: Malty with increasingly more soapiness. Strong suggestions of added E150a caramel, and yes I’ve tried it neat.
- C: Shame about the soapiness because as a malty syrup it works rather well. Refreshingly un-honeyed compared to Drambuie [coming up].
Whilst we are here, let’s try another Turret sample if only to check the soapiness wasn’t a random mishap. This version is entitled ‘Original’.
Glenturret ‘Original’ Malt Liqueur Ob. 35% [5cl]
- N: Much less emulsion to this sample with more fauna and a firm wood-chip and MDF sawdust maltiness – think B&Q down the trade end. It’s also far more sour with really no indication of the sweetness to come.
- T: Malty/sawdust-y/E150a bitter-to-sweet, turning more sour and cardboard-y/teak-y and decidedly malty on the turn. Compared to the first sample, here we’ve far less coffee liqueur references and only a thin slice of grapefruit & orange sponge.
- F: A little chemical-y but with little-to-no soap like the previous sample. There’s a long drawn-out bitter/sour-to->sweet interplay at the end which is welcomed. It’s continually E150a-heavy and grapefruit-y bitter/sour with a touch of hairspray and an unsmoked cigarette filter at the death.
- C: Appears to be a more intact sample or indeed a totally different batch with the bitter/sour grapefruit working commendably against the sticky sweet sugars. It’s just, those poles are so extreme/apart that there’s little connection between the malt and the liqueur side of things until the closing stages.
Drambuie Liqueur [1970’s] 70 proof [5cl]
Stated on [all] bottles at the time was a sentence that read, ’A link with the ’45’. Further reading: diffordsguide
- N: Chemical creamy lime detergent.
- T: Aah no, this isn’t right – hairspray!
- C: ‘Corrupted file’. Lets dig out another.
Drambuie Liqueur [1970’s] 70 proof [5cl]
- N: Thankfully less chemically than the first bottle with a consistently similar lime cream shortbread note. Truly simple.
- T: There’s a slight medicinal note – creamy Lockett’s on butter>honey biscuits with a hint of fennel and a pinch of nutmeg.
- F: True to form. Water elongates the journey and brings through more shortbread.
- C: When all is said and done, I find this a mildly nagging lemon-y/lime>honeyed liqueur. A few sips is really enough. It’s back to the Glenturret for me.