Not so bitter now

June 11th, 2009

News of partnership between The Bitter Truth and Bittermen’s, which was finally announced this week, reminded me of some other Bitter Truth products I’ve been meaning to write about for a while. As well as their famous bitters, for several years now The Bitter Truth have been putting out a delicious sloe gin and this year they diversified their product line further with the release of a rye whiskey and three liqueurs. Said liqueurs have been sat on my desk unopened for quite some time, but seeing as I’m stuck at home this evening due to a tube strike I figured it was about time to crack them open and see what they’re like…

The Bitter Truth liqueurs

The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram

22.5% ABV

Pimento dram is a liqueur that originally comes from Jamaica, made by macerating pimento berries (also known as allspice berries) in rum and then adding sugar. The liqueur is called for heavily in tiki recipes where the rich spicy flavours of the pimento berry are used to great effect. Homemade recipes are easy to come by, but as regular readers will know I’m incredibly lazy when it comes to homemade ingredients so until recently had been relying on the excellent product from Eric Seed – St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram.

The TBT dram has a wonderfully spicy nose, with a huge overwhelming waft of clove followed by cinnamon. In the mouth an initial sweet burst of clove gives way to a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg which grows drier and more bitter in the finish. If using in recipes that were based on the Haus Alpenz product you’ll want to add some additional sweetness to round out the flavours of the TBT dram, which is much more intense. However in recipes that are already heavy on other sweet liqueurs I imagine the TBT Pimento Dram with work very nicely to add a spicy edge without too much extra sweetness.

The Bitter Truth Crème de Violette

20% ABV

Once a defunct product cocktail geeks could only dream of getting hold of in recent years crème de violette has seen a resurgence with new several brands coming to market and general availability becoming much better. The TBT Crème de Violette is made using wild violet blossoms from the Alps, macerated in neutral grain alcohol.

The darkest of all the crème de violettes I have, this has a surprisingly light nose with just a mild hint of violet. This continues in the mouth with a nuanced but light violet flavour and a short floral finish. I found it most comparable to the Rothman & Winter CdV, though the R&W bottle has a slightly stronger violet flavour and a definite increase in sweetness.

Unfortunately compared to my favourite CdV from G. Miclo, which while much lighter in colour has an intense and rich violet flavour that is really wonderful, the TBT struggles. In an Aviation, the definitive crème de violette cocktail, I found myself adding more and more of the Bitter Truth liqueur to try and get the right hint of violet but found the liqueur just too mild in flavour.

The Bitter Truth liqueurs

The Bitter Truth Apricot Brandy

24% ABV

The Bitter Truth Apricot Brandy is made using apricots from the Klosterneuburg region of Austria, and is a mix of the juice of these apricots plus an eau de vie distilled from the same fruit. The nose is fairly mild, with a bright apricot smell as well as a slight suggestion of alcohol. In the mouth it has a rich, luscious mouthfeel and a very balanced, subtle sweetness. This combines with a fresh apricot flavour that lingers nicely on the tongue resulting in a soft, light liqueur.

Unlike some apricot brandies (Giffard Abricot du Roussillon for example) the TBT Apricot Brandy lacks the more bitter, complex almond-like notes that the apricot kernel introduces. While this makes for a very sippable liqueur, in the cocktails I tried it in like the Claridge Cocktail and Pendennis Club Cocktail the TBT product struggled to stand up to the other flavours in the drink.

Some adjustment to existing recipes is clearly needed, but I look forward to seeing what bartenders come up with that call for this liqueur specifically. A careful recipe that can capture the light, bright apricot flavours could be very tasty indeed.


The Bitter Truth liqueurs are available from The Bitter Truth Shop, who ship worldwide.

Note: In the interests of full disclosure, the TBT liqueurs reviewed here were supplied to me by The Bitter Truth.

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Posted in Apricot Brandy, Crème de Violette, Pimento Dram, Reviews

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4 responses to “Not so bitter now”

  1. eas eas says:

    Having worked with the Giffard Apricot, I wasn’t a fan of the stronger almond note in drinks, but we all have our own preferences.

    For those in the UK who want local market options, the full line of Haus Alpenz is now in stock and available through Specialty Drinks, their London retail shop and http://www.thewhiskeyexchange.com.

    The Whiskey Exchange did pick up some of the last remaining stock of the old Sangster’s Allspice Dram, now long out of production It might be fun to get a reader review of that for contrast.

  2. Ruben Ruben says:

    TBT Pimento Dram is the greatest spice liqueur in general, that I’ve ever tasted, with great mixability. However, if you are using this in drinks, I found that you need to almost halve the amount of Pimento Dram you would usually use so that it doesn’t take over the drink too much.

  3. Cocktails Old Fashioned » Blog Archive » Webweites #4 - Thought’s of a mixology novice says:

    [...] von Oh Gosh! hat sich näher mit den neue Likören von TBT beschäftigt. Der Pimento Dram und Apricot Brandy [...]

  4. Tiare Tiare says:

    I think their bottles really are beautiful.

    I tasted the Sloe gin in the Mixohouse in Nola and i really liked it.

    T

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