Which cream liqueur wins 14-bottle mystery taste test?

irish cream liqueur reviews

A cream liqueur is a snuggly comfort cushion as the cold winter wind whips around outside. Now its getting cold I asked some of my girlie pals to help me blind-taste 14 cream liqueurs.

They didn’t complain. We’re not industry experts but we’re typical comfort cushion girlies who love a cream liqueur especially at Christmas.

I wrapped all 14 bottles in tin foil and then popped a number on them – don’t worry, by the time it got round to the blind-tasting I’d forgotten which was which.

I gave my pals the rules  – drink lots of water – keep the glasses clean – be honest – write down your scores and your comments.

blind taste test cream liqueur bottles

Then get set, glasses at the ready .. let’s go.  One pal told me afterwards: “I really loved trying all these. Who would have thought they could all taste so different, it was a real eye-opener.”

I couldn’t agree more. There wasn’t much to choose from in the scores once we got beyond the top five, but our girlies’ thoughts were oh so varied.

Let’s move on … here’s our humble, fun and slightly scientific, results. 

Continue reading “Which cream liqueur wins 14-bottle mystery taste test?”

The winning cream liqueur:

Specially Selected Irish Cream, AldiSpecially Selected Irish Cream Liqueur (Aldi £6.99) This was by far and away the winner. When I did the Big Reveal there were plenty of oohs and aahs.

Two pals had been convinced this was Baileys and were quite surprised. I thought it had a little note of citrus – where that came from only knows.

It was powerful on the alcohol, but not as much as a Baileys by comparison. One chum said “this is creamy but not too strong” and another … “very smooth to taste”.

Second place

Baileys Irish Cream LiqueurBaileys Original Irish Cream (several retailers, in Tesco at  £12) This is probably the tipple we all think of when talking Irish creams. I’d challenged all the girls to see if they could spot it when blind-tasting. No-one did.

You don’t realise how much of a kick Baileys has until you try it alongside other creams –  I blindly said it was a gloopy glug of alcohol with a strong final alcohol kickback.

One of the girls said it was  “stronger than it smells” which probably explains why she was gradually leaning into the wall.

Third place

Sainsbury Taste the Difference Irish Cream LiqueurTaste the Difference Irish Cream Liqueur (£10, down from £12 until December 8, Sainsbury, 1 litre)

 “Ugh” said one friend who didn’t like it at all – but her sister declared it was her favourite out of all of the cream liqueurs.

She gave a *thumbs-up*. Although on second thoughts, she might have been trying to hang onto the chair. I thought the cream and some chocolatey notes combined really well. A nice fling with vanilla.

Fourth Place

Delaney's Irish Cream LiqueurDelaney’s Irish Cream Liqueur (£5.99 Co-op, 70cl) This tastes of Christmas! proclaimed one of my pals who should win a Guiding Badge for cream tasting  dedication (if only they did them). 

She described this as having aromas of nutmeg, mingling with vanilla. When she went back to the Delaney’s after tasting all the others, she said she also loved its creaminess.

I thought there was more emphasis on dairy cream than alcohol. One girlie threw a curve ball saying she could smell and taste butterscotch. I tried again – and you know, I did too.

Fifth Place

Feeney's Irish Cream LiqueurFeeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur  (£10, reduced from £12 until December 8, Tesco, 70cl) Feeney’s won a Platinum award and ‘Best in Class’ at the 2015 SIP Awards. It might not have been best in class with my ladies, but it was definitely holding its hand up and winning praise.

I thought it was a pick-me-up luxury in a glass, and our dedicated sipper said “it tastes of cocoa and is very rich”.  One of the sisters picked it as her favourite out of the bunch and said “lovely like Ovaltine!”

Though I don’t know what one of the girls  was doing, as she wrote “the alcohol goes up your nose”. Well – this was the 14th disguised bottle in the taste test line-up.

Great British Bake Off and drinks with sweet things

PX sherry: The Great British Bake Off

I WALKED around work with a Post-it note stuck to my jumper last October. It said: “Don’t discuss The Great British Bake Off … I haven’t watched it yet!!”

This year I’m at least four episodes behind and playing catch-up. I can see a Post-It note coming out again!

The other night I watched a man make a lion’s head out of bread and felt pretty useless so I’ve wimped out of making cakes for my Scientific Experiment (it had been my plan).

Instead, I’ve bought ready-made shortbread, lemon drizzle cake, a chocolate cake and a vanilla cheesecake to talk about wines with cakes, sweet bakes and fruity things.

Jane Clare, The Great British Bake Off
Last year I was determined not to find out who won The Great British Bake Off

There’s a couple of simple rules when pairing wines with sweet things.

Dishes high in sugar should be paired with wines that have at least as much sugar; so don’t pour wines that are less sweet than the yummy treat you’re eating.

What’s this? Babycham? I spotted it in Tesco (£4 for four 20cl bottles) and thought I’d give it a whirl.

It brings back memories of mum, aunties and my sister, though I think brandy was a pairing of choice back then. With a mouthful of lemon cake there was a dapple of lemony explosion but mainly from the cake. The Babycham was much better with shortbread whose buttery flavours shone through.

Sweetheart sparklies that would definitely fizz and flutter with a lemon delight are the dreamy Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato (£9.99, Tesco) or Lidl’s Allini Asti Spumante DOCG (£5.25) which pops with peaches.

Rustenberg Straw Wine 2012 (Majestic, £13.49, or £8.99 each when you buy two until October 26) is a blend of viognier, chenin Blanc and crouchen blanc grapes which are allowed to dry on straw mats for four weeks before they’re fermented.

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Then someone like me comes along and asks it to sit quietly in a glass while I slice tiny triangles of supermarket cheesecake.

There are aromas of pineapple, honey and the candied oranges and lemons you get in a Christmas box. Velvet peach cream oozes in the mouth, divine with the creaminess of the cheesecake. I think I’m in love. The lemon drizzle was too sweet (remember those rules) so stick with creamy fruity bakes on this one.

Plaimont Producteurs Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Duc de Termes 2011 (£4.49 from £5.99, 37cl, Tesco) is lighter on the nose, with vanilla and candied peel.

The Great British Bake Off wines
I had a bit of taste-test fun with wines for The Great British Bake Off

The cheesecake was a decent match as the wine’s apricot notes weren’t overwhelmed.

You’ve got to love pedro ximinez sherry. You might have had PX as a drizzle over ice cream; now try it in a glass with chocolate cake.

Taste The Difference Sweet Pedro Ximenez Sherry (£8, Sainsbury, 50cl) is a sticky glug of liquid bonfire toffee. I bet ginger cake would be perfect, but I won’t tell the chocolate cake if you don’t.

This just doesn’t feel like sherry; it’s unctuous like a liqueur, all gloopy and mahogany-deep, with flavours of raisins and prunes and a lick of spice. Chocolate wonderland.

Over at Marks & Sparks, Rare Pedro Ximenez (£8 for 37.5cl) is a touch lighter and has more fruity freshness. Figs bring the X factor, there’s a velvet encore of coffee and balanced acidity as the curtain goes down.

Next time, I’ll buy ginger cake.

After that, I just wanted a cup of tea which is probably best for the excitable lemon cake. Talking of tea (tenuous link here) I tried a couple of chilled fruity teas (both RRP £1.99) courtesy of the Berry Company (www.theberrycompany.co.uk)

Berry’s Green Tea with Aronia and Blueberry has the haziness of just-squeezed blueberries and is really fruity with just the hint of green tea in the background.

Berry’s White Tea & Peach is a blend of white tea and concentrated peach juice and is pale golden, bright and sharp. Perky peach aromas are backed up with refreshing peach flavours.

To find out more about The Great British Bake Off, click here.

Published in the saturday extra magazine September 26, 2015

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