UPDATE: True Drambuie starts with a honey flavor, ends with a clean licorice flavor and is underpinned throughout with mild whisky. What I made had a slight new flavor, and the bourbon knocked out the licorice finish. While very nice on ice, not what I was aiming for. Expect to post Experiment #2 by 10/29.
Drambuie is an 80 proof Scottish liqueur made from Chivas Regal Scotch, honey and a secret blend of herbs, that costs about $35 for 750 ml. It’s very tasty, and since I have honey, I decided to try to replicate it or at least make something similar that is equally tasty.
Most “Drambuie” recipes call for a lot of rosemary, and some also have fennel seed as an ingredient. When I taste Drambuie I taste only non-peaty scotch, honey and fennel, so I went light on the rosemary. As for the alcohol, I used Evan Williams 1783 bourbon, which is 43% alcohol, or 86 proof. Fine Scotch costs so much because it’s imported, and I think bourbon is superior. 1783 is not top-shelf bourbon, but it’s very palatable and reasonably priced. Since the honey is free, this would result in a liqueur costing 25 percent of the cost of Drambuie. On the other hand, the Bourbon Drambuie will be 32% alcohol instead of 40%. Below is the recipe I used:
- 750 ml Evan Williams 1783 bourbon
- 1 1/3 cups honey
- 1 rounded tablespoon fennel seed, coarsely chopped in a blender
- 1 teaspoon (chopped and pressed down) fresh rosemary
Put the honey and herbs in the bowl first, and then slowly add a little bourbon at a time and whisk. When the honey’s loose enough for easy mixing, add the rest of the bourbon. Put the mixture into a quart-sized jar for aging. As luck would have it, it won’t all fit :). Strain the remainder and put in a glass with some ice-cubes and enjoy. Add the strainer leavings to the quart jar and seal.
I’m gong to leave it sit for a month or two to ensure the fennel and rosemary flavors make their way into the liqueur.
The fresh remnants were lovely and I have high hopes for the final result. My husband thought it was very good, but that the bourbon was a little strong. I agreed, and thought that was a very fine thing.