So how do you go about comparing 23 different orange liqueurs? When I first decided to conduct this comparison I imagined gathering at most perhaps ten different liqueurs, so didn’t give much thought to the logistics of the exercise. However, as the number of bottles I had amassed began to creep above the dozen mark it became apparent I needed a plan. I knew the comparison needed to be done blind, but beyond that how was I going to sample so many orange liqueurs?
To try and get an idea of how best to taste liqueurs I tried a few non-orange flavoured spirits in my collection, such as apricot brandy and crème de mûre. Tasting at room temperature provided a good insight to the flavours going on, but quickly became a little overwhelming due to the very sweet nature of fruit liqueurs. Erik’s recommendation of cutting the drink with some vodka helped this a lot, and also brought out some flavours which were perhaps being masked by the sugar.
With this in mind, I decided to use both a 1 oz room temperature sample and a chilled ½ oz vodka, ½ oz liqueur mix for each bottle on test. The room temperature sample was tasted first, followed by the chilled sample which was cooled with a single ice-cube for exactly one minute before tasting. In an attempt to ensure I didn’t become too inebriated, most sips were discarded before swallowing (or spat out as it is more concisely referred to).
All the orange liqueurs were sampled over the course of one (fairly long) evening, and I tried to leave a little time and drink plenty of water between each bottle to help avoid my taste buds becoming completely frazzled. As mentioned the liqueurs were served to me blind, with their identities only revealed after the tasting was completed. Prior to that revelation, and indeed in a few cases afterwards, I did go back and compare some liqueurs side-by-side where their similarities warranted further investigation.
So those are the notes on the tasting – tomorrow we move on to the tasting notes…
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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