D15= Drambuie 15
Michigan State Minimum
Appearance: Old gold, with some necklacing. (both)
Drm: Orange blossom honey, alcohol, malt whisky, woodruff, tarragon, a touch of ginger.
D15: Much drier. Sherried single malt, woodruff, thyme, wildflower honey.
Drm: Sweet and syrupy. A bit of burn, then orange and lemon thyme.
D15: Still sweet but not nearly as thick. More like a top shelf toddy than a liqueur. Dry sherry, malt whisky, honey with a faint herbal background note.
Drm: Clingy and sweet like that person you dated in High School. Hangs on for a long time, but with little depth.
D15: Dry and short by comparison. Wildflower honey again, alcohol and malt whisky.
Mixed: I tried them both in three mixed applications: A rusty nail (using a 12 y/o sherried single malt), a recipe from the Drambuie website called a “rusty cola” (self-explanatory), and with club soda on ice. The rusty nail with the standard version was fine and the malt did a good job of cutting the sticky sweetness of the liqueur. The 15 didn’t really add much. It just tasted like a sweet malt. The rusty cola was tasty but very sweet with the standard. The 15 tasted weird with cola at first but it grew on me. Standard Drambuie was refreshing with soda but still very sweet. The 15 was really delicious with soda, like a high-end blend.
Parting words: I don’t review liqueurs much but I have a small bottle of Drambuie languishing in my liquor cabinet and I was able to find a mini of Drambuie 15 so I figured I should do a head to head. They are whisky liqueurs after all.
Anyhow, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed tasting these two. The ordinary Drambuie is so sweet that it’s not something I drink very often but is a nice change of pace. The spice and herbal flavors come through nicely and give it some character beyond the cloying honey. The 15 y/o is truly delicious and does best with soda or neat.
That raises the question of price. Drambuie is not too expensive for a high-end liqueur but for the price of the 15, one could by a decent Highland or Speyside single malt that is just as sweet and complex and have some money left over. That is what keeps it from getting a full recommendation.
If you enjoy honey whisky liqueurs, Drambuie is recommended for mixing and Drambuie 15 is mildly recommended for both mixing and sipping.