Cream liqueurs have a fascinating science surrounding them but it is their flavour which appeals to so many. Festive seasons like Christmas always seem to bring out these products but they are truly enjoyed everywhere. So many cocktails to choose from and they are all great over ice. Some of us have a cheeky tipple with hot chocolate and that indulgent festive latte. Their versatility also means they are fantastic in desserts like pannacotta and special bread and butter puddings.
The techie bit: cream liqueurs are essentially composed of dairy cream with a base of alcohol and other added flavours.
The key is keeping the cream in an emulsion. In some cases the shelf-life is extended to 30 months which reflects the skill in creating a stable emulsion. Acids from citrus fruit or indeed fruit juices generally are to be avoided as a drop in pH affects the cream emulsion and it produces an unpleasant separation let alone a poor experience with flavour. It doesn’t work with carbonated drinks either so no mixers of this type should be used.
All these liqueurs need to be shaken well to make sure none of the contents have settled. Just check if there are any special instructions about storage. The high level of alcohol means it is a preservative in its own right. Most producers suggest storage in the fridge and drunk within the month.
They should all have an allergen warning because they contain milk – beware of any brands that doesn’t contain the warning as they might not be true cream liqueurs anyway. Avoid vegetarian versions!
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The Top Brands
When you look at brands, Baileys are for most people the cream of the crop but there are other producers too. It had become the case that Baileys were the only people in town but other brands have crept onto their patch. Still they are hard to knock.
Lets not forget the own label brands either as they have some very palatable sippable creams on offer.
Aldi have created for 2020 their BallyCastle White Chocolate flavoured cream liqueur which some of the headlines have described as a reproduction Milky Bar it’s so good. Their press release describes it as “A light yet luxurious cream liqueur with the classic flavour of cocoa butter and cream.” Sounds superb so take a look!
Lidl are not far behind with their Queen Margot Espresso & Cream Liqueur. We tried this for its strong heavy cream with some coffee. It has a fine texture. Get from Lidl
Baileys Irish Cream
The classic Irish whiskey liqueur mixed with cream which is regarded as the number one brand. Who hasn’t added a tot of this liqueur to coffee to give a bit of sinful twist. It has won a number of awards including the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012 and it wont stop there. It’s produced by Gilbeys in Ireland which is owned by Diageo. Its declared alcohol content is 17% by volume. It was first produced and launched onto the market in 1974.
The product is well patented to protect its unique flavour combinations which include cocoa and vanilla. The addition of cream generates a luxurious, velvety smooth texture.
Baileys recommend adding this cream liqueur to your favourite coffee or to pour over vanilla ice cream for an indulgent treat. Has a shelf-life of two years.
A number of different variants are now available including chocolate (nowadays Chocolat Luxe which is Belgian chocolate), almande, red velvet cupcake, strawberries and cream and salted caramel.
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Baileys Salted Caramel
Is this more grown up than your usual cream tipple? It is as smooth as the Irish Cream but has a delicious, nay scrumptious saltiness that is blended with smooth caramel. Love the feel and turns salted caramel icing into a sweet joy. Similar ABV of 17%.
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Merlyn Welsh Cream Liqueur is made by Penderyn in South Wales and is one of the first from this part of the United Kingdom. It is produced from Welsh malted barley spirit and pure fresh dairy cream. Best served with ice but we also like a shortbread biscuit with it too. No caffeine and suitable for vegetarians.
It was the 2015 Bronze Medal Winner – International Wine & Spirits Competition
Columba Cream Liqueur
Columba is produced on the Isle of Mull and named after the famous St. Columbas. As well as using malt whisky and cream, it incorporates honey to create a smooth flavoured sweet liqueur.
Amarula Cream Liquor
Age Verification Required on Delivery: This product is not for sale to people under the age of 18. Proof of age and a signature will be required on delivery.
The Scottish answer to Baileys. A cream liqueur produced in the capital, Edinburgh. This is a great product which won a gold medal in the worldwide Liqueur Masters competition 2020. This was for quality in the ‘cream’ category. The alcohol is a high quality single malt Scotch Whisky from Speyside, not Irish whisky. The product has a worldwide following too.
Revision: Updated profiles from the 1st publication of the 18th December, 2019.