Expanding Your Taste Buds: Drambuie

When developing your palate, it is important to explore various sources of new flavors. Different and unique beverages can provide you with a starting point, an new direction, or simply a nice change of pace when developing your recipes. EYTB is here to provide unique things to try that might give you the spark for your next great beer.

I came into possession of a 750ml bottle of a drink I’d never even heard of before: Drambuie. While, perhaps those of you readers who are well versed in Scottish beverages may have heard of this drink, for those who haven’t, it’s a scotch based liqueur. Weighing in a 80 proof, this Scottish dram is featured in several mixed drinks, such as the Rusty Nail. However, if you’re trying to EYTB, it’s sweet enough to enjoy on the rocks.

Drambuie, the name deriving from the phrase the drink that satisfies, is scotch whisky based, blended with Scottish honey (made from something else truly Scottish, heather pollen) as well as several other herbs and spices. It pours a light golden color, similar to most scotches. Honey and anise dominate the nose of the liqueur, along with a light floral aroma.

Once you take a sip, the anise subsides and allows the whisky to warm your mouth, but the honey’s sweetness cuts the burn perfectly. In truth, I’m a bit shocked the proof is so high, as the honey hides it extremely well, without feeling like you’re just drinking sugar water, which many such beverages tend to lean toward.

In one small glass, I fell in love with this stuff. Initially, I was afraid the anise aroma was an indicator of the flavor, and thought I was about to drink a weak Jagermeister clone, with no color. The second it hit my lips I changed my mind. I must say, this stuff rocks.

Now, taking this to the next level, three flavors/aromas I hadn’t put together before I now know work pretty well together:

  • Scotch/Oaked Scotch
  • Anise
  • Honey

Using this as a starting point, a host of ideas come to mind:

  • Adding scotch soaked oak chips into a mead
  • Using anise as an adjunct in a scotch ale
  • Using anise in secondary for a mead
  • Putting some honey into a scotch ale

While these are just a few ideas from off the top of my head (some of which I know for a fact have been tried several times), I may (or may not) have been skeptical of their merits. I now have a pretty good idea as to how these things interact and have some new ideas for the next time I go to draw up a new recipe.

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