I thought as we are in holiday swing now that I would do something a bit different in terms of reviews. For as long as I can remember, my aunts and uncles always have plenty of Baileys around at Christmas, both for having on the rocks and in coffee.
While visiting Forty Creek distillery earlier this fall, I had a chance to try their cream liquor and I was very impressed. Bailey’s is a longstanding favorite of mine, and hadn’t even considered that something else would come in better than it – it was always just the fabulous standard for cream whisky. So, noticing also Sortilege maple cream in the liquor store, I had a few friends over for a cream liquor taste-off. The lineup for tasting included the original Bailey’s, caramel Bailey’s, Sortilege Maple Cream, and Forty Creek Cream.
To spice things up a bit, I submitted two of my own recipes as well. I made two kinds, with a cream base from this recipe. Really, it was quite simple, as my base was simply whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk, and eggs. I divided my batter in two, and made a rum, chocolate, and mint liqueur by adding melted chocolate, sailor jerry rum, and mint extract (i.e., drained rum that was soaking with crushed mint leaves all night). I don’t remember quantities, as I added bit by bit as I blended and tasted. The result was as you might expect – a rich, creamy, chocolate and mint concoction with a touch of rum flavour as well. The guests loved this! To the other half of the cream I added amaretto, vanilla (from vanilla beans and vodka), and bourbon (Eagle Rare 10 year old). The result of this was surprising, and very complex and different. The almond and vanilla set a base for some rich oakiness from the bourbon. I really liked this one. The only critique I got from this was a lack of alcohol kick and a bit too much sweetness (all from the sweetened condensed milk!). Surprisingly enough, my concoctions stood up pretty well against their (more expensive) branded counterparts.
There were 7 of us, and we all rated the liqueurs out of ten (i.e. 70 total marks). The results, in order of total average score:
Mint Chocolate Rum Cream: 55.5 (79%)
Almond Vanilla Bourbon Cream: 54 (77%)
Sortilege Maple Cream: 49 (70%)
Bailey’s Original, Bailey’s Caramel: 47 (67%)
It’s a harsh lot of graders because despite the low marks they all taste pretty fantastic in my book! Forty Creek clearly won, and was the highest mark of 5 graders (tie for best mark for one). 2 of the group liked the rum/mint/chocolate the most, and 2 liked the almond vanilla bourbon the most (tie for best mark for one). The original baileys may have been the least well received as it received the lowest mark from 4 of my friends.
So there we go! My fellow Canadians, why not pick up a bottle of Forty Creek cream instead of Bailey’s or your other default cream? It is wonderful, without as much alcohol bitterness and with chocolate, coffee, and caramel. I (and my 6 other judges) highly recommend it! And, it would appear, there are fellow bloggers who agree.
I was surprised that my own concoctions held up, to be honest. Interestingly enough (or, perhaps, obviously), on ice cream my rum/chocolate/mint cream had no competition. It was fantastic. By the time we got around to judging in coffee and on ice cream, we stopped our serious judging and didn’t come up with results as we had far too much sugar. However, I would modify the recipe. I would use condensed milk (unsweetened), instead, and add maple syrup to sweeten where necessary. That should help it becoming too sweet. Additionally, in the future, I will probably experiment a bit with other options for thickening the cream, as the flavor of condensed milk in a cream-based drink is a bit too dominant. I will tinker more…and in the meantime, making your own cream is also something I recommend! Happy Holidays.