May 17, 2009

Hiram Walker Triple Sec Review

hiram_walker_triple_sec.gifWe've never reviewed triple sec here on the site, but we're starting to think we should focus more on things like this. Hell, sometimes liqueurs and other mixers make up 25 or 30 percent of the cocktail you're drinking - we're thinking we're going to want to make sure the stuff is on the level.

Plus, this is going to be a fun review for another reason - because the Hiram Walker folks sent us a bottle of Cointreau, what many people consider the industry standard in orange liqueurs. So how does good old Hiram measure up to Cointreau? Only one way to find out, isn't there?

Hiram Walker
Triple Sec (Orange Liqueur)
60 Proof (30% ABV)
Typical Price: About $5-$10
Available: Pretty Much Anywhere

The Look: Hiram Walker's triple sec is in a brown glass bottle with orange highlights on the label. It looks like a good, old fashioned liquor bottle you might find in your parents' liquor cabinet, and there's something reassuring about that.

The Nose: Sweet and orangey, with the faint tint of orange peel. It smells more of orange than the peels like some liqueurs, which seem to have a more bitter scent from the pithiness of the peel. At 60 proof this stuff is a bit stronger than a lot of liqueurs, but the orange scent effectively hides any of the alcohol tang, letting the sweet and pungent odor of oranges take the front.

The Taste: This triple sec starts off sweet, with the reassuring taste of candied oranges and other citrus flavors on the back end. It is a bit thick, as many liqueurs tend to be, without being syrupy, and the citrus flavor holds out in the long run, with an ever-so-slightly dry finish. Definitely not something we would sip every night as a digestif, but we enjoyed it on the rocks when our sweet tooth was kicking in. It also held its own very nicely in mixed drinks, adding a sweet orange flavor without stepping all over the other ingredients as the more syrupy brands tend to do.

The Verdict: We liked Hiram Walker in all the cocktails we mixed, and we thought it was a very nice addition to our liquor cabinet. In the past we haven't been incredibly discerning about the triple sec we would buy for margaritas and other drinks, but this tasting experience has opened our eyes, especially when compared to some of the triple sec bottles we have moldering in the liquor cabinet.

"But Liquor Snobs," you're asking. "What happened to that Cointreau comparison you promised us?" We knew you'd be curious, so we thought we'd include a few thoughts here at the end. We did a blind taste test between the Cointreau and the Hiram's, and while our discerning tasters were able to tell the difference between the two in our makeshift Pepsi Challenge, they appreciated the opportunity to compare between the two.

Cointreau comes in on the bitter end, as though they rely more on the peels than the fruit to make the stuff, and with the higher alcohol content (it's 80 proof) there was definitely more of a kick. Our tasters thought they might be more prone to sip Cointreau on the rocks due to the lessened sweetness, but we generally don't buy orange liqueur just to drink it. They thought Hiram Walker's slightly smaller footprint would make for more subtle drinks, and everyone agreed the fact that you can buy four bottles of Hiram for every one of Cointreau was a huge plus, especially if you're planning to entertain a lot.

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at May 17, 2009 9:13 PM
Recent Comments

Harlequin Orange Liqueur stands up pretty well in the comparison too.

And no, I don't work with Harlequin. I just think it's tasty. ;-)


Posted by: Rich G at May 18, 2009 4:31 PM
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