A good spirits range is well complemented by the right range of liqueurs, it’s no good selling something cheap and a bit nasty – you can buy those anywhere – and with Christmas coming now is the time to revamp your liqueur range and make sure you’ve got the best lineup out there. Here are my Top 10 – and like dogs these aren’t just for Christmas. I have tried NOT to include those things that are readily available in the supermarkets – and so I’ve looked at Sainsbury and Tesco websites to do that but that doesn’t mean you won’t find some of them instore somewhere. The great thing with liqueurs is that if you pick the right ones and go for it – you can really develop a local market for that product. You’ll need to commit to pushing the product and instore tasting but if you invest in them they will repay you.
1. Stag’s Breath – rich, silky caramel flavoured Speyside malt whisky flavoured with fermented honey. The perfect thing for putting in a hip flask.
2. Compass Box Orangerie – don’t be fooled by this whisky bottlers liqueur – whisky it isn’t – but take the richness of whisky and blend with cloves, cassia and orange to create something really rather special. I just can’t work out why more people haven’t latched onto it yet. Taste it and then you will buy it.
3. Chase Elderflower Liqueur – St Germain may come in a nicer looking bottle but blind tasting the pair there is only one winner. Once has a purity and concentration of floral bouquet that wipes the floor with the other. It’s English too so what more reason do you need. Lovely with Prosecco but add a little to a gin and tonic to make a lovely summery cocktail.
4. The King’s Ginger Liqueur – for whatever reason this has always been a little difficult to source – despite its huge increase in popularity – but it’s now more readily available and is a drink that seems to fly off whichever shelves it happens to find itself on.
5. Diplomatico Rum Liqueur – those excellent chaps at Diplomatico don’t only make some of the nicest rums you are going to taste this side of Christmas (not just this Christmas but any Christmas!) – they now produce this really rather wonderful rum liqueur too.
6. Mozart Gold Chocolate Cream Liqueur – it seems like everyone wants to produce a chocolate liqueur – Bailey’s, Thorntons and even a wine based chocolate liqueur called Rubis (which sells incredibly well but frankly I’d rather it hadn’t been invented). This is high quality however and well worth having instore.
7. Grant’s Morella Cherry Brandy – wowsers! This isn’t like any ordinary cherry brandy this is quite delicious and complex. Well balanced with a slightly dry edge I was very impressed with this indeed. It’s not for the person looking for the cheapest option out there but it is for the person looking for the best and if you give it the full instore tasting support during the year and include in things like festive tastings you can quickly develop a good local market.
8. Frangelico – this used to be quite widely available but for whatever reason it has disappeared off shelves – and yet it would appear that there is still demand for it – just perhaps not enough for Mr Tesco. This Hazelnut liqueur is a perfect partner to chocolate cake (or better still a hazelnut chocolate cake!)
9. Chase Sloe & Mulberry Gin – Sloe gin is riding the gin wave in terms of popularity and a lot of craft gin producers are making some as an additional income stream. Almost without exception these are of far higher quality than anything that has been on the market commercially before when the choice was often limited to Gordon’s or Plymouth Sloe Gin or make your own. I really like this from Chase and for me it’s certainly one of if not the best product on the market.
10. Bepe Tosolini Fragola Spezieria – realised coming to the end of the list that I was a little short of fruit liqueurs so my final selection is a goody. What is not to like about a strawberry liqueur in a terrific bottle with wild strawberries floating in it. On the shelf the bottle looks brilliant and so people will buy it – but on tasting it they will become lifelong fans. It’s a terrific liqueur that meets all the criteria to be both a gift and a personal favourite.