Review – Benedictine D.O.M. Liqueur
With the international transport networks so much a part of everyday life, we are accustomed to enjoying food and drink containing ingredients from right around the world. Back in the 1700’s however when Benedictine was first produced by a Venetian monk, sourcing 27 botanicals including angelica, hyssop, juniper, myrrh, saffron, aloe, arnica and cinnamon must have been quite the challenge. A half-Century or so gap in production at the beginning of the 19th Century followed, before the original recipe was re-discovered, modernised and put back into production. Today the exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, but we know that it is distilled in copper pot stills and aged in oak barrels for at least a little while.
Nose: Those who have failed to note this liqueur ways in at 40% abv are soon reminded when they plunge their nose into the glass. After the initial alcohol hit subsides, a delightfully understated aroma of lavender honey and complex herbal spice dotted by a range of botanicals that intermingle to create a complex and enjoyable aroma.
Neat: This is not liqueur that does anything by halves; Its high (for a liqueur) abv, intense sweetness and robust herbal palate are all big on the palate. A few ice cubes helps to loosen things up a little, revealing the true beauty of this liqueur; And what a beauty it is. As the initial honeyed sweetness fades, a mix of Christmas spice, summer fruits and gin-like aromatics offer up a deliciously complex and herbal profile. There is not a hint of the ‘medicinal’ taste that often is present in herbal spirits, and as such this is a liqueur with wide appeal. The finish ends with a lovely marzipan note that will keep you coming back for more.
Mixing: From the ridiculously simple but delicious Benedictine and Brandy, to the more complex Singapore Sling, Benedictine works wonders in mixed drinks. The complexity offered by the vast array of botanicals means that it pairs very well with a wide range of spirits and drink styles, making it a versatile ingredient to have on the shelf. From the gin-based Jubilant, to the classic bourbon and cognac Vieux Carre, this is a liqueur that likes to get in on the action whatever the base spirit. The high level of sweetness does make it a tricky proposition in larger amounts, but it is easily balanced by citrus and drinks such as the Between the Sheets work very well when the balance is struck right. Although many recipes call for Benedictine to be used in a pleasantly subtle way to accent other ingredients, it really shines when mixed in the classic Bobby Burns (recipe below), where the combination of Benedictine, whisky and vermouth is quite simply sublime. The versatility of this liqueur is rounded off perfectly by the finding that it also sits very well in champagne cocktails such as the Benediction (recipe below),in which it offers a wonderful sweet and aromatic complexity that is as delicious in taste as it is easy to make.
Signature Cocktail – Bobby Burns
30ml blended Scotch whisky, 15ml Benedictine, 30ml sweet vermouth
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an lemon twist.
Signature Cocktail – Benediction
25ml Benedictine, dash orange bitters, Champagne
Add Benedictine and bitters to Champagne flute, top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.
Benedictine D.O.M. has been around for nearly 300 years for very good reason. Its full-on and complex flavour profile makes it a versatile and successful ingredient in all manner of cocktails. Whatever your preference, there will be Benedictine cocktail for you. A must have ingredient for the home bar.
Benedictine D.O.M. is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.