On his recent trip to France to explore the history, Palace and products of Bénédictine, DTS remembered to bring back a little something for me to try back at home. Well, quite a big something, as a matter of fact. This impressive bottling is of Bénédictine Single Cask, a fine dry version of the herbal liqueur. It still contains the secret recipe of twenty-seven herbs and spices that go into the original Bénédictine, but is aged in single, small, Limousin oak casks underneath the Palais de la Bénédictine in Fécamp, Normandy. It is bottled at a higher ABV (43%) and is aged for longer than the the classic liqueur.
It’s also only available from their shop in Normandy, so it’s more than a little bit special and I was eager to see what it would bring to some of my favourite drinks.
On its own
Nose: Light, sweet and herbal, with a medicinal, but revitalising, hint of menthol about it.
Taste: Predominantly warming and herbal, this starts out with lots of medicinal, spicy notes, followed by a quite intense, but not artificial, sweetness. The herbal notes than really kick in, along with hints of honey and aniseed, before a long herbal finish that, compared to the start, at least, is slightly bitter. Wonderfully warming, making this a lovely tipple for a rainy day like today where winter seems ever closer.
The Robert Burns (the more serious version of the Bobby Burns)
[30ml Scotch, 30ml Red Vermouth, 15ml Bénédictine Single Cask – Shake]
Sweet and very herbal, this has just enough of that honey sweetness at the start to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. The finish, meanwhile, was full of lovely drier grape and Sherry notes that stopped it from becoming sickly.
[Make an Old Fashioned in your usual way replacing the sugar syrup and bitters with Bénédictine Single Cask]
Delicious, fresh orange to start, backed by a herbal, but not overly honeyed, sweetness that accompanies a wonderful hint of spiced dark chocolate. Sweet vanilla and oak from the bourbon make themselves known towards the end. The finish is drier and lighter than expected, making this pretty perfect, in my opinion.
Bene ‘n’ Hot
[One Part Bénédictine Single Cask, 3 Parts Hot Water, Lemon Slices]
An intriguing alternative to a whisky toddy – it starts out with notes of clove and aniseed, that are quickly replaced by slightly more bitter notes of tea and lemon. The aftertaste, which is more herbal than I had expected, reminds me very much of that of aniseed flavoured boiled sweets.
This was delicious and I’m already a big fan of the variety of cocktails that it produced, especially given today’s flurry of rain and lower temperatures. Particular favourites were the Bene ‘n’ Hot, which was a wonderful, slightly sweeter and more herbal alternative to a whisky toddy, and the Old Fashioned, where the oak and herbal notes combine seamlessly to produce a complex and yet elegant cocktail. I will be rationing this bottle, I think!
– Mrs. B