A bittersweet amaro-style liqueur, Calisaya is made in an Italian style, but not in Italy — rather, in Cottage Grove, Oregon.
Not nearly as dark as most amaros, Calisaya is a deep orange, in keeping with its orange-inflected flavor. But the base of Calisaya is not distinctly orange but rather cinchona bark, a tree which offers bitter, quinine-type compounds and hails from Peru. Various other (unnamed) botanicals, sugar, and water are added to the blend, offering this 70 proof final product.
The flavor is intense, with sweet orange candies and serious bitterness playing together, with a thick, syrupy body that coats the throat. Secondary notes include brewed tea, almonds, and fruitcake/gingerbread characteristics.
All sounds interesting, and if Calisaya clung together a little better it would be a more pleasant product. It isn’t bad, but this concoction is frankly much too syrupy and unbalanced, its bitter flavors knocking out the sweet and spicy without much fuss. I’ll take Fernet over this any day.
Reviewed: Lot 93, from production year 2010. Not to be confused with Calisay, a Spanish liqueur.
B- / $NA / calisaya.net