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
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
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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