Last Thursday, DBS & I visited Chris Spiller of the Fabulous Vodka Companyand had a wonderful time, discussing all manner of things, including gin, vodka and whisky. DBS will be writing his own article shortly, but today, instead of the normal Whispers of Whisk(e)y, I would like to present my thoughts and notes on Caralicious: the Fabulous Vodka Company’s first product, a caramel vodka made with natural caramel.Chris, a lover of port, told us that Caralicious was created as a result of his desire to create an after-dinner sipper for friends and family that didn’t enjoy the traditional fortified wine, but still wanted a refined and tasty way to round-off a delicious meal.
On It’s Own
The nose, unsurprisingly, is dominated by the rich scent of caramel, like that inside chocolates, but maybe a little more like one made from brown sugar. I also got a hint of coffee.
On the tongue, it is deliciously smooth and syrupy or, rather, silky, and I got a slight warmth in my throat from the alcohol. It wasn’t too sweet, although the sweetness increased half-way through the profile, then gradually disappeared until it was completely gone, leaving my mouth clean.
Where the ice had started to melt, I got a little water to start, followed by a gradual increase in caramel, until you reach the full, brown sugar flavour that almost fools your mind that you have actual caramel in your mouth – I kept expecting to have to chew! The ice, whether it was just the temperature difference, or the small amount of water that it introduced into the drink, brought out more of the flavour of the vodka. A lovely way to drink Caralicious, especially in these summer temperatures!
With Orange Juice
When mixed with orange juice, the Caralicious produces a rich, sweet flavour and the orange and caramel flavours combine more than with any of the other juices, so that the two are difficult to distinguish, although there’s definitely a peak of the orange flavour towards the end. I was left with a sweet, caramel aftertaste.
With Pineapple Juice
Mostly pineapple on the nose, with a hint of the caramel at the end; just enough to draw you in.
The flavour is neat, with the pineapple at the beginning, then the caramel supporting it at the end, rounding it off with a comforting sweetness that doesn’t linger too long on the palette. In my opinion, these two flavours go together better than the other juices that we tried.
With Cranberry Juice
There’s a rich, syrupy smell that brings to mind toffee ice-cream, turning into a distinctive creaminess.
It has an interesting taste: there’s a sweetness to start, like toffee apples, which blends into the acidity and tartness of the fruit juice, before leaving a clean finish. Just before the end, there was a vanilla creaminess that I liked. Despite this, I thought that some people may find the cranberry tartness and caramel creaminess to be pulling the drink in different directions; I vastly preferred Caralicious with pineapple juice.
Extremely creamy, like ice-cream, but still refreshing because of the orange juice. Could be considered a tad too sweet and some may dislike the “swing” from the acidic juice to the sweet finish.
Sweet bourbon nose that is light, but pleasant. Caramel comes in at the end – as before, syrupy. Hints of coffee and burnt sugar toffee.
On the tongue, it is smooth, but full of flavour, with the bourbon adding complexity to the previously experienced caramel flavours. The sweetness of the Caralicious isn’t overpowering and the burnt, dark sugar notes go particularly well with the bourbon, which ensures a wonderful warmth is carried through at the end. Lovely.
In addition to the drinks noted above, DBS pulled out all of the stops and made me some Caralicious apple crumble, as recommended to us by Chris.
In Apple Crumble
This was gorgeous; the alcohol is present, but not overpowering, and adds a warmth to the apple filling that you can taste and smell from the start. The caramel comes through as a warm, rich sweetness and goes very well with the oats – giving it an almost flapjack-like quality. On the Fabulous website, they mention trying it in porridge, which I can imagine tasting similarly delicious.
Overall, I was very impressed by Caralicious; it was great both on its own and as a method of adding a touch of rich caramel to traditional recipes (for both food and drink!). My favourite drinks were Caralicious served frappe and in an Old Fashioned; that said, I’m always a fan of a good crumble.