It seems as if liqueurs are often associated with royalty, probably due to the cost of the high sugar content; whereas spirits are associated with the common folk because they are of a necessity, pretty down to earth. This may be a generalization, but at least with this review, there is a genuine connection to the real Napoleon Bonaparte that this sweet beverage is named after.
It seems that Napoleon’s director-general of instruction, a Docteur Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy had a bit of the amateur mixologist in him. He had the brilliant idea to soak mandarin oranges in alcohol, then blend the infusion with cognac. This proved to be a popular beverage with the young ruler of France, so much so that in 1892 (over 70 years after Napoleon passed away in exile on the isle of St. Helena) the same formula that he loved was finally made available to the public.
Still made from a blend of mandarin orange peels from Andalusia, Sicily and Corsica along with 10 year old cognac, spices and herbs, it ages for three years before it is bottled. The only thing that has changed over the years, is the bottle design which once again features the familiar chapeau of Napoleon. As the great man himself said, “One must change one’s tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one’s superiority.”
Mandarine Napoleon (76 proof)
Visual: Beautiful crystal amber.
Nose: Fresh squeezed orange scent with high notes of bright spices.
Taste: Rich, viscous and light in orange flavor. Not overly sweet, as it has a certain slightly bitter edge to cut the higher sugar content of a liqueur.
Finish: Fairly long, leaving an elegant and refreshing taste.
Overall: A very pleasant and mild liqueur perfect for sipping on the rocks or used in place of any other triple sec.
GSN Rating: A-
For more information go to: Mandarine Napoleon