Most Americans are woefully unaware of historical battles fought between European countries. However, if you are a lover of history as I am, you may have read or watched the “Outlander” series. The stories take place during the mid-1700’s when the Scots and the English were fighting over the rightful ruler of the crown. Tradition says that the recipe for Drambuie was given as a reward to Scots Captain John MacKinnon by Prince Charles Stuart as a reward for helping the Jacobite cause.
Whether this is true has not been ascertained. But, it does make for a good story. Regardless, the Scotch lost the war and they remain a part of Great Britain to this day. The liqueur itself was not widely known until the 1870’s when it was served at the Broadford Hotel on the island of Skye. Its popularity eventually led to exportation to the United States and other European countries shortly before World War I.
Today, the brand is in the limelight again with a modern eye given to bottle and graphic design along with an aggressive ad campaign. As well, this year marks the first new Drambuie iteration ever, a 15-year-old Scotch version, which has slightly higher proof and a richer and mellower flavor. Tasting the two Drambuies side-by-side is a real treat and makes the differences between them quite obvious.
Drambuie (80 proof)
Visual: Rich gold.
Nose: Quite herbal, but still with the distinctive Speyside whisky character. Lots of high, heathery and floral notes with a subtle honeyed character.
Taste: There is a vast cascade of herbs and spices reminiscent of liqueurs made by French and Belgian monks. Sweet, but with a bit of fire and a warming buttery, golden honey taste.
Finish: Medium long, and slightly medicinal. But, a very pleasant way to take your medicine, as it were.
Overall: In the same high quality and attention to detail as liqueurs like Cointreau. An eminently Scottish liqueur that works just as well straight as mixed in a cocktail.
GSN Rating: A-
Drambuie 15 (86 proof)
Visual: Interestingly, this is slightly paler than the regular version, being a medium gold.
Nose: Lighter, with more of the Scotch character coming through. The herbal notes are there, but in a less overt way.
Taste: First off, the mouthfeel is lighter. The flavor is wider with more whisky character driving the overall flavor profile. This comes off as less of a liqueur and more of a lightly flavored Scotch. The balance between the two is an interesting battle on the tongue. There is definitely a more peppery and spice driven presence here than the regular Drambuie.
Finish: Medium long with a pleasant and warming Scotch finish. Just enough spice to tease the tongue into wanting more.
Overall: Oh, yes. You need a bottle of this. Very impressive and an amazing liqueur that takes Drambuie to an entirely higher level. Amazing.
GSN Rating: A+
For more information go to: Drambuie