WHISKY LIQUEURS & CORDIALS

 

Before we begin this part of the journey let me take a moment to clarify some terms which are often interchanged.

  • LIQUOR: Spirits, a result of distilling a fermented beverage.
  • LIQUEUR: A flavoured alcoholic beverage consisting of;
    • SPIRIT BASE: Ranging from Whisky, to Rum, to Brandy as well as Neutral Spirits
    • FLAVOURINGS: Herbs, Spices, Cream, Roots, Fruit, Petals, Flowers, Leaves, Chocolate, Honey and so on
    • SUGAR: The standard amount varies from country to country, generally to be qualified as a liqueur in the US 30% must be sugar as compared to the 20% of Europe.
    • They are generally 15% ABV or 30 PROOF
  • CORDIAL: The American word for Liqueur, Cordial to Europeans however means concentrated alcoholic fruit syrup.

Now Liqueurs are a lot simpler than the spelling is (trust me, if I had a buck for each time I misspelled it in an exam, id be a millionaire). Simply put, it is a DIGESTIVE, meaning it is meant to be had after the meal. This is due to the fact that it is sweet. The sweetness being a result of sugar or honey added to the base spirit. Perhaps this is what Archie Andrews was talking about in his hit single Sugar, Honey, Honey .

Broadly speaking one can use Cold or Hot processes to produce a liqueur, further divided into 3 methods;

  1. COLD METHODS:used for delicate fruit pulp, leaves, petals etc.
    • INFUSION:where water steeped with flavouring agents is mixed with the base spirit.
    • MACERATION:Where the base spirit is directly steeped with the flavouring agents, causes more concentrated flavour extraction than infusion.
  2. HOT METHODS:used for dried flavouring agents, which require steam for flavour extraction.
    • PERCOLATION:Where while distilling the spirit, one inserts a sort of chamber filled with the spices, herbs, roots etc. allowing the vapour to be flavoured.

Now moving on to whisky liqueurs, which refer to liqueurs with whisky as the base spirit. They may be further distinguished by what other components are present in the product. For instance, Whisky-Cream & Whisky-Honey liqueurs.

WHISKY- CREAM BASED LIQUEURS;

Baileys. The first and last thing that comes to mind when one says cream liqueurs. This is not to be confused with crème liqueurs which are liqueurs with the highest sugar percentage, making them extremely smooth. Now you must be wondering how the hell do you prevent whisky and cream from splitting. Well some mad scientist (I’m picturing a cross between Doc Brown and Rick Sanchez) or rather Ingenious distiller, came up with the idea of Using extracts from vegetable oil to emulsify whisky and cream. This prevented it curdling, provided it was not exposed to acidic or extreme heat based environment. Here are  some of the Cream Based whisky greats in all their glory.

*NOTE: Prices have been based from TheWhiskyExchange  unless specified and may vary on place of purchase. One can find lower rates at duty free stores.

  • BAILEYS IRISH CREAM 17% ABV :

Baileys-Irish-Cream-The-OriginalThis heavenly concoction is a mixture of fine Irish whisky’s mixed with the finest dairy cream of Glanbia. It is a perfect way to end a meal, either on its own (my favourite), mixed with some cold coffee (my fathers personal favourite) or simply poured on some ice cream (recommended service). However note that although the manufacturers claim it has a shelf life of 24 months, open or unopened, refrigerated or not, in my experience India’s tropical climate knocks the rule far from point, resulting in me opening on many an occasion, a bottle of Baileys cottage cheese (not that that stopped me from having some). It has firmly gone on to have a Mint Chocolate, Hazelnut Biscotti, Vanilla Cinnamon, Cherry Strawberry and even Salted Chocolate variant.

PRICE: Rs 1330/- (700ml)

  • CAROLANS IRISH CREAM 17 or 14.5% ABV:

cq5dam.web.1280.1280Much to my surprise Baileys is not the only company to have Irish Cream cemented after its name. A lesser known player in the cream liqueur game is Carolans, which is similar to baileys save for the use of HONEY as well. I have not had the opportunity to have an entire bottle to my name, but I believe that it must be treated like baileys in terms of its storage (meaning pop it in the refrigerator in India, at least when we reach our Papad popping 40+ temperature range).

PRICE wine-searcher.com: Rs 806/- (750ml)

 

WHISKY – HONEY BASED LIQUEURS:

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One must understand that whisky liqueurs are nothing new. Scots for centuries now have been mixing honey, oatmeal and whisky to make “brose” a hearty concoction to battle the weather of Scotland. One might also have heard that during our parents time, Brandy, Honey and Water was combined to help children recuperate (I don’t know of its effectiveness, but I’m sure any doctor who would prescribe it to adults today might make a shelling….. I might propose that to my doc the next time I meet him). These examples show how honey and spirit are a classic combination, so lets delve a little further into the topic.

 

  • DRAMBUIE & DRAMBUIE 15yr 40% ABV

New_drambuie_bottleIf Baileys dominated the the cream based section, this undoubtedly defines the whisky honey  genre as a whole.  Legend says that after the battle of Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles Stuart fled to the isle of Skye where he was given sanctuary by Captain John Mackinnon who was given the recipe as a reward. From there it travelled hands from France to the US and ultimately reached the  Grant family where it stayed within it for 100 years. It is now being produced by BOWMORE Distilleries (see Islay Section) at Glasgow. Having been the first liqueur kept in the house of lords cellar as well as the staple source of warmth for British soldiers it maintains its legacy today. It has been given a 96/100 score in the Wine Enthusiasts Spirit Rating Competition. Part of its charm is its use of heather honey which some say has a smokiness of its own right.

PRICE : Rs 2745/- (700ml)

PRICE 15Yo: Rs 4670 (1000ml)

 

  • CHIVAS LOCHAN ORA 35%ABV

2868While primarily known for its premium range of Blended Scotch, Chivas also has its name in the liqueur trade with Lochan Ora. Guaranteed satisfaction for those who are hooked to the brand with its combination of Chivas signature blend, honey and herbs and spices. Meaning the “Golden Loch (Lake)” It is evident in the rich golden colour present in the product, not to mention that the bottle itself holds a picture of a deep gold lake in it.

PRICE: Rs 2548/- (700ml)

  • JACK DANIELS TENNESSEE HONEY 35% ABV

2378527_t1_1200x1200While NO.7 may be what defines Jack Daniels to the masses, Bourbon with its already sweet chocolaty taste takes on honey I the most beautiful way possible. Although I might have a disagreement with its marketing slogan “a little bit of honey, a whole lot of Jack” (which if twisted by any adolescent mind would dissuade you from the product all together)

PRICE: Rs 2259/- (700ml)

  • IRISH MIST 35% ABV

irish-mist-the-original-honey-liqueur__25886.1325887157.1280.1280Here is a product that uses two strains of honey, heather and Clover that bring a beautiful mingling on the palate. Not to mention the most aromatic herbs of any liqueur on the list. The company claims that the recipe itself is over 1000 years old, which based on its flavour does have a tinge of tradition. The makers claim that the best way is to have it with cola and lime (*insert finger in mouth GIF*), that being said a Rusty Mist is a delectable combination of Irish mist and Drambuie.

PRICE: Rs 2160/- (700ml)

  • J & B URBAN HONEY 35% ABV

w-liq_j!b1From another Scotch  powerhouse comes J&B urban honey, a welcome addition to the market for whisky lovers,

PRICE: Rs 1959/- (700ml)

 

 

  • JIM BEAM HONEY 35% ABV

jimbeam_honey750__58525.1376318081.1280.1280“It was worth every sting”, the tagline says it all, and I agree. Jim Beam and its honey début into the market is best served chilled giving off beautiful flavours of vanilla along with the signature bourbon sweetness.

PRICE: Rs 2160/- (700ml)

SPICE & FRUIT – WHISKY LIQUEURS

One would find that honey and cream are not the only flavours that whisky can assimilate. In fact some of the finest whisky liqueurs include Cinnamon, Apple, and even Peach as flavours. Here are some;

  • SOUTHERN COMFORT LIQUEUR

w-liq_sou11Now I’m going out on a bit of controversy here. If you read on it, this liqueur has more neutral spirit than whisky. That being said one can taste  American style whisky in every sip with robust amounts of peach, orange and a number of herbs and spices.

PRICE: Rs 2180/- (700ml)

 

  •  JIM BEAM APPLE 35% ABV

w-liq_jim4

 

Bourbon with the crispness of apple, some say it goes well with tonic water.

PRICE: Rs 2160/- (700ml)

 

  • FIREBALL 33% ABV

w-liq_fir1A name which has more in common with Hogsmead and the land of Harry Potter than whisky, its deep punch with Canadian Whisky and Cinnamon is a treat to behold. Better keep a bottle when travelling to the hills (if had in the raging sun of the tropics however, keep a fire extinguisher handy, trust me)

PRICE: Rs 1669/- (700ml)

  • GLENFIDDICH MALT WHISKY LIQUEUR 40% ABV

w-liq_gle1

Now I’m a sucker for Scottish Single Malts, and because of that may not look at this very objectively. That being said, it is a brilliant blend of Glenfiddich’s signature single malts, citrus, pear and  brown sugar.

PRICE: Rs 12,277/- (500ml)

 

 

  • JACK DANIELS TENNESSEE FIRE 35% ABV

w-liq_jac6

The only contender to Fireball in terms of its Cinnamon punch, recommended to be had chilled.

PRICE: Rs 2357/- (700ml)

 

  • SOUTHERN COMFORT LIME 20% ABV

w-liq_sou5With the signature peach and orange, with the addition of Lime, The brand introduced its new line in 2010, with a reduce alcohol percentage of 20%. It can be used to make a variation on the Classic Mint Julep, with the addition of crushed ice, mint and a small dash of water.

PRICE: Rs 1669 (700ml)

 

  • JIM BEAM MAPLE 35% ABV

w-liq_jim3

Now here is a combination made in heaven, maple syrup and whisky. One could use this to spike their pancakes (Drunken Pancakes anyone)but I doubt they would be of much use for the rest of the day.

PRICE: Rs 1660/- (700ml)

 

  • FAMOUS GROUSE LIQUEUR 35% ABV

w-liq_fam1A good quality blended scotch brand in itself, add some bourbon, mandarin and gingery spice and you have a equation for success. The story goes that late one night the master distiller decided to make himself a drink while having some mandarin ginger cake, one thing lead to another and the liqueur was born.

PRICE amazon: Rs 15,453/- (70oml) ( EXTREMELY RARE NOW)

 

  • ROCK AND RYE (multiple producers)

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Now this liqueur does not have one single producer, but often includes rye whisky with citrus and rock candy.

PRICE (Mr. Boston Rock and Rye) : Rs 773/- (700ml)

 

 

I recommend to people unfamiliar to whisky liqueurs to begin with Cream based liqueurs before moving to Honey based liqueurs and ultimately Fruit and Spiced based liqueurs. So go out and try a bottle of LIQUID DESSERT.

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