Review – Chambord Liqueur
Although the story goes that Chambord has links as far back as the late 17th Century, when King Louis XIV was presented with a sample of liqueur during one of his visits to Chateau Chambord. It wasn’t actually until 1981 however that Chambord was launched as a commercial product by a chap named Norton Cooper, who based the liqueur on a product produced by his father Maurice, Forbidden Fruit. Chambord is produced using a three step process, the first of which sees whole raspberries and blackberries macerated in neutral spirit for four weeks, before being re-used in more neutral spirit for a further two weeks. Once both both infusions are complete, the fruit is crushed, and the resulting infusion liquid filtered then blended with raspberry, blackberry and blackcurrant extracts together with cognac, vanilla extract and herbs. The final stage sees the addition of sugar and blending for taste consistency.
Neat: Not as sweet as the nose suggests, but still plentifully so. Much more definitively raspberry in flavour but these are stewed raspberries, not fresh. Hints of chlorate, honey, and other stone fruits add a decent level of complexity to proceedings. Vanilla subtly permeates throughout and balances well with the ‘bucket loads’ of fruit flavours. Smooth and silky but particularly benefitting of an ice cube to cut through the sweetness and reveal some delicate citrus notes.
Mixing: The signature (recipe below) French Martini, aside from being absolutely not at all a Martini is perhaps the most well-known of Chambord cocktails. And for good reason, for it is a particularly moreish example of a guilty-pleasure drink. A simple mix of vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice, it is but a boozed up fruit cocktail where the Chambord is asked to provide much of the complexity, and it delivers the goods. Many other cocktails make use of its ability to add a distinct fruity note, the sparkling Ja-Mora for example with apple and orange juice for good measure is no way to treat good Champagne but it most certainly is a way to make average stuff taste pretty good. It is however possible to have too much of a good thing, and the combination of fruity red wine, fruity rum and fruity Chambord in the Red Rover is just that. The addition of Cognac into the Chambord blend makes this an obvious base in cocktails, so the Red Marauder which also adds in cranberry juice and lime should be a decent idea. It does however illustrate one of the downsides to Chambord, in that it does not always play fairly when picked alongside other bold flavours. Here it tries to dominate, resulting a a messy battle of flavours. Aged spirits are however in many respects the way forwards with this liqueur. The Charlie (a twist on a Manhattan) balances all components nicely, with the Chambord doing what it does best in providing a subtle fruity tang in a delicately understated way on account of its relatively small volume in the finished drink.
Signature Cocktail – French Martini
2oz Vodka, 0.5oz Chambord, 1.5oz Pressed Pineapple Juice
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Chambord Liqueur is a delightfully fruity specimen that proves to be a versatile and moreish cocktail ingredient. Despite the neutral spirit base, it delivers a decent level of complexity and is in fact particularly successful when partnered with aged spirits.
Chambord Liqueur 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.