Maybe I’ve only noticed this because I have a slight obsession with anything coffee-flavored, but there seems to be quite a few Colorado distilleries creating their own coffee liqueur recently. A few that come to mind include Leopold Bros (Denver), Roundhouse (Boulder) and one that I just discovered this past weekend, Richardo’s (Lyons). Well, it just so happened that I had all of these on hand last night, so I decided to do a little after-dinner tasting to see which of these three delights wins the Colorado coffee liqueur crown. (I posted this Vine before I did my tasting – be sure to follow Denver Off The Wagon on Vine to keep up with us!)
Before we get started, why should you keep a coffee liqueur on hand? First of all, pouring a coffee liqueur over ice and sipping on it as an after-dinner drink is so satisfying. Second, you can drizzle it OVER ICE CREAM. Thirdly, it’s a no-brainer add to your cup of coffee… need I say more?
The line up!
For this taste test, it’s important to note that all of these coffee liqueurs sit at exactly 40 proof so they are incredibly comparable on paper.
Leopold’s is known for creating a variety of downright delicious liqueurs, from their Michigan Tart Cherry to their Three Pins Herbal liqueur. Their Frenchpress-Style Coffee Liqueur certainly doesn’t disappoint, either. To create their coffee liqueur, Leopold’s actually starts with a french press of a proprietary blend of coffee, then mixes it with their eau-de-vie and just a pinch of sugar.
Roundhouse doesn’t currently carry a lot of variety, but the Corretto comes from the same distillery that has made the now incredibly-popular (and oh, so tasty) Barrel-Aged Gin. To make their Corretto, first Gerry Leary of Boulder-based Unseen Bean hand-selects organic free-trade coffee beans before the distillers add in whole vanilla beans to the mix. Roundhouse touts that their Corretto is not only delectable, but comes in at only 53 calories (hello, ladies!).
While Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur has only been bottled at Spirit Hound’s distillery in Lyons since late last year, it’s history dates much farther back. Creator Rick has been making his coffee liqueur for more than 20 years, but only delivering it to his friends in Lyons. As legend has it, for all those years, Rick delivered his coffee liqueur in milk crates, and then picked up the empty bottles to be refilled and redelivered when they were ready. Richardo’s is also made with real coffee and vanilla.
Now on to the tasting!
Any legitimate taste test starts with first observing the smell of the drink. On the nose, both the Richardo’s and the Corretto smelled like delicious, sweet coffee, but had a relatively strong alcohol fragrance. However, the Leopold’s smelled almost exactly like a fresh pot of coffee. It smelled roasty and slightly bitter, and made me nearly start a pot just to add the liqueur to my cup. Round one goes to… Leopold’s!
Next, I poured a touch of each of the coffee liqueurs into a glass–no ice, just served neat. I tasted one after the other. The Richardo’s was more syrupy than the other two, but was nice and sweet with a great coffee flavor. Easy to sip and quite enjoyable. Corretto had more of an espresso flavor than the other two, but just like on the nose, it carried a fairly strong alcohol flavor on the finish. Leopold’s probably tasted the most different from its smell among the three; it was incredibly bitter and had almost a sour component to its flavor. Round two goes to… Richardo’s!
To mix it up, of course I had to add ice to the samples before I made any final decisions. In my mind, I would most likely drink one of these on ice anyway, so this is the ultimate test. It was amazing how much the ice changed the flavor profiles of each of the coffee liqueurs. The ice tamed down the coffee flavor of both the Richardo’s and the Leopold’s, but I was missing that coffee punch. The Leopold’s was still quite bitter as well. However, with the Corretto, it removed any of that strong alcohol flavor I was getting before and made the coffee flavor jump out at me in a really, really great way. Round three goes to… Corretto!
As you can see, Colorado makes some mighty tasty coffee liqueurs. For this taste test, I have to give the crown to Roundhouse for their Corretto Coffee Liqueur.
What’s your favorite coffee liqueur?