(Bourbon) Drambuie Experiment #1 — UPDATED

drambuieUPDATE: 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.