Ask a bartender: when did s/he last use a Drambuie? Or when was the Crème de Cassis bottle last opened? Hopefully, this often overlooked category of spirits will see a revival with some exciting new entrants in the market.
For instance, Edinburgh Gin Distillery has distilled some exciting and flavourful gin liqueurs, which have the very essence of liqueur, but in a new avatar.
Edinburgh Gin (EG) is a brand of Scottish gin, which produces many versions of craft gins and gin-based liqueurs. The interesting fact with their line of liqueurs is that every liqueur is based on the Edinburgh Classic Gin.
These liqueurs are a fresh and modern approach to all things liqueur. There is no artificial colouring or flavouring, and all these liqueurs are small batch-crafted. The flavour range is exciting and diverse, with a combination of global (the delicate Elderflower) and local (think robust Scottish Raspberries) favourites.
EG liqueurs have a strength of 20% ABV across all flavours and are specially packed in hand-blown artisanal glass bottles sourced from Italy. The liqueurs are beautifully balanced – not chokingly sweet.
These are easy to use and consume, since they are highly mixable – or they can be chilled at home and enjoyed neat. There is no limit to creativity when it comes to enjoying these liqueurs.
Edinburgh Gin and liqueurs are brought to India by Ian Macleod Distillers (India), who own the brand globally. Since India is a regionally diverse market – especially in the major metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru – the selection of the right EG range of liqueurs was not easy!
It seems as though different cities will see different flavours being launched, depending on the response of each. They are available in Maharashtra and Delhi, with Goa, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana and Karnataka next. But the company eventually plans to make all flavours accessible across India.
Elderflower as a flavour component has been in vogue for a while and many are trying to capture this flavour. Unfortunately, it mostly comes off in an artificial manner, more of a flavoured, sweetened extract.
Elderflowers grow in landscapes near Edinburgh; thus, this cordial uses the fresh ingredient which is very essential in making a quality product.
Elderflowers are picked in full bloom, and then macerated for about a month in Edinburgh Classic Gin, which serves a base spirit for all EG liqueurs. One can imagine the extraction of flavours and the depth of these fresh, clean flavours which are imparted by the Elderflowers.
The resulting liqueur has an uplifted floral nose, stone fruit flavours of peach, citrus and balanced sweetness. The honey-like sweetness, coupled with zesty flavours, provides a good match to sharp flavours like that of Champagne or sparkling wine.
One can add it to home-made lemonade, or just have it neat over some ice cubes. Inspired cocktails: Kir Royale and Elderflower Zest.
The Edinburgh Pomegranate and Rose liqueur combination makes me think of India. Gulkand is extensively known in the North India and pomegranate is available across India, with many Indian households actually growing pomegranates at home!
Furthermore, many Indian dishes and sweets use kewra (rose water) mostly for intense perfumed aromas and freshness. Now one can imagine the marriage of these two beautiful ingredients, resulting in a sweet rose incense, fruity liqueur.
The rose used here is the finest quality Damask, originating in what is currently Syria. They are one of the oldest species of the earth and are intensely aromatic.
In India, this rose species was used by the Mughals for their perfumes and in their culinary delights. Till date, some attar makers in Kannauj (Uttar Pradesh), use these heirloom roses using techniques passed down from generations to make beautifully scented attars and rose oils.
Inspired cocktails: Rosette Martini gives a cultural salute to the classic Martini with the addition of this liqueur.
Summer in bottle
Edinburgh Raspberry Gin liqueur is the freshest, juiciest fruity liqueur based on raspberries exclusively from Perthshire, harvested from a family owned farm in Alyth, Blairgowrie.
The perfect balance between the sweetness and the natural tartness is essential during harvest, much like grapes for quality wine making. To ensure this, the fruit is picked at peak ripeness to ensure this perfect balance.
A delicious, sweet, fruity, tart comes together in this; and the tartness balances the sweetness, thus making the whole experience a refreshing one.
Inspired cocktails: Berrylicious is an upgrade of G&T with addition of this liqueur, topped with some mint and fresh raspberries.
The Edinburgh Apple & Spice Gin liqueur is a culinary flavour duo, reminiscent of freshly baked apple pies sprinkled with some cinnamon sugar. This flavour is a new launch (2018), and is delightfully different from other flavour profiles.
Fresh apples harvested in autumn are skillfully bundled with warming cinnamon before being macerated in Edinburgh Classic Gin. The fresh juicy apples at the core, surrounded by gentle warming peppery spice in the background, makes for interesting cocktail inspirations for bar professionals.
However, to experience its true flavour, it is recommended to have it with some ice and chilled soda, garnished with thinly sliced fresh seasonal apples.
Inspired cocktails: Add this liqueur to a good Scotch with ice and chilled soda. Garnish with a stick of cinnamon and thin slices of apple. These delicious, full-flavour liqueurs will surely want you to mix, stir and shake your own cocktails filled with wonder.
(This concludes the two-part series on EG liqueurs. The first appeared in the June-July 2020 issue of this magazine. Check it out at www.brewsnspirits.in)
EG liqueurs in India (500-ml)
- Apple & Spice liqueur: Rs 2,999 in Delhi, Rs 3,900 in Maharashtra
- Rhubarb & Ginger liqueur: Rs 3,900 in Maharashtra
- Elderflower liqueur: Rs 3,900 in Maharashtra
- Raspberry liqueur: Rs 3,900 in Maharashtra, Rs 2,999 in Delhi, Rs 3,200 in Goa