Bols orange liqueurs

March 26th, 2008

The Great Oh Gosh! Orange Liqueur Showdown

We start the Great Oh Gosh! Orange Liqueur Showdown in alphabetical order with two offerings from Bols. A Dutch company founded in 1575, Bols produce the full gamut of fruit liqueurs and are probably one of the biggest brand names in this sector. It should be noted the products tested are the international versions produced in Holland. The bottles available in the USA are made under license by a different company and share only the Bols name. For details on how the comparison was performed, check the notes on the showdown.

Bols Dry Orange

24% ABV

Bols Dry Orange liqueur

Bols Dry Orange is a deep bronze colour, verging towards red, and is fairly light in the glass compared to some which were rather thick and viscous. Unusually it contains rum, albeit as a flavour component rather than the base as with the Santa Teresa and Clément liqueurs. This shows up fairly heavily on the nose with a strong white rum smell, along with some mild citrus and orange zest notes.

In the mouth the rum almost completely disappears, leaving a fairly mild orange flavour with perhaps the slightest hint of vanilla and other aromatics. There is a definite richness to the taste, and only the slightest suggestion that it is indeed alcoholic. The sweetness you would expect from a liqueur is there but it isn’t cloying, though there is a definite candy-like aftertaste.

Overall a surprisingly balanced offering, though whether this delicateness can hold up in a cocktail remains to be seen.

Bols Triple Sec

21% ABV

Bols Triple Sec liqueur

Bols Triple Sec follows the typical triple sec trait of being clear, though at 21% ABV does come in fairly weak compared to many triple sec offerings. The nose has a sharp, bright combination of orange zest and alcohol that greatly contrasts the mellow Dry Orange smell. The initial taste almost perfectly mirrors the nose, with a bright but not particularly strong orange flavour.

This orange flavour continues in to the finish, with a more zesty component developing as time goes on. To my surprise, given the low alcohol content, this triple sec develops a mild but noticeable burn towards the end. The sweetness was unremarkable, being neither too strong nor notably absent – unlike some triple secs my notes mention sweetness only at the very end, almost as as afterthought.

While Bols Triple Sec is fairly one-dimensional in the flavour department, it retains an impressive kick given its strength. Considering it is one of the cheapest triple secs in the comparison it stands up pretty well. It isn’t the best, but it certainly isn’t the worst.

Note: In the interests of full disclosure, the liqueurs included in this comparison are a mixture of bottles I have purchased myself, and samples solicited from their UK distributors.

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Posted in Orange Liqueur Showdown, Reviews

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7 responses to “Bols orange liqueurs”

  1. gilrain gilrain says:

    Bols is a sore spot with me, as I’ve always heard they’re pretty good for mixers across the board — particularly their curacaos — but that the US versions are junk. Very disappointing.

  2. Jay Jay says:

    I do find it strange that a brand like Bols, which has a long history, and a fairly well respected line of liqueurs, chooses to simply license a US producer. Especially when the US producer puts out, at least from everything I’ve read, such bad quality products.

  3. Tim Tim says:

    I wish I’d read these comments before I purchased some! Wanting some cheap triple sec for margaritas at a big party, I purchased some Bols Triple Sec. At $6 for 1L, it is quite the bargain!

    The nose smells strongly of rubbing alcohol, and the taste has a very mild note of orange. I tried making a White Lady and a Cosmopolitan with the remains of the bottle (two drinks dependent on the taste of the triple sec), and the Bols triple sec simply ruined the drinks.

    I’ll be trying the Boudier Curacao Triple Sec next as a nice orange liqueur which can act as an orange curacao (due to its sweetness) or as a triple sec (if, perhaps, a little sweet). What do you think of this idea, Jay?

  4. Tim Tim says:

    By the way, I wanted to thank you for all of the excellent reviews! I would have never considered Patron Citronge if it wasn’t for your reviews (as I see the tequila as an overpriced, second-rate tequila). Also, although I bought the Bols on your recommendation, I won’t hold it against you. =)

  5. Jay Jay says:

    Tim – I did point out at the start: “It should be noted the products tested are the international versions produced in Holland. The bottles available in the USA are made under license by a different company and share only the Bols name. ” ;-)

    To be honest, if you’ve not already got a bottle of Cointreau I’d pay the extra and give that a try. From what I understand many of the curaçaos and triple secs aren’t that easily available over in the States, and overall Cointreau is hard to beat for general cocktail use.

  6. Tim Tim says:

    Wow! A quick reply! Indeed, the selection here is poor. Cointreau is twice the price of any other orange liqueur though, and I was seeking a more reasonably priced replacement.

    Patron Citronge sounds like it would work fine for a margarita, but I’m making Mai Tais this weekend and was seeking a sweeter Curacao. Being somewhat broke, I don’t have the budget to stock two orange liqueurs and was seeking an affordable orange liqueur for every occasion.

  7. Tom Greene Tom Greene says:

    We have a customer with interest in a pail of triple sec essence. Do you have it?

    Tom Greene

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