We covered Merlet’s new Cognac a few weeks ago, but the company is arguably best known for its fruit liqueurs, which we’re finally getting around to covering them. All of them, actually. Thoughts on these high-end liqueurs and two unique Cognac/liqueur blends follow.
Merlet Triple Sec – Triple sec is perhaps the toughest liqueur there is to mess up, and Merlet’s, made with bitter orange, blood orange, and lemon, is perfectly solid and is at times a bit exotic with its melange of interrelated fruit flavors. A very pale yellow in color, the lemon is a touch more to the forefront than I’d like, lending this liqueur a slight sourness, but on the whole it’s a perfectly worthwhile and usable triple sec that I have no trouble recommending. 80 proof. A- / $30
Merlet Creme de Poire Williams (2013) – A comparably mild Poire Williams, very easygoing on the nose but more powerful on the body. Somewhat lemony, with elderflower notes as you take in the aroma. This sweetness continues in the body, which ultimately lets in some of the sense of earthiness that you get with pears. Poire Williams isn’t a spirit I tend to sip on much, but a perfectly acceptable expression of the liqueur. 36 proof. B+ / $23
Merlet Creme de Peche de Vigne – Peach liqueur, very fragrant on the nose, again with an undertone of floral elderflower. As with the pear liqueur, it’s mild on the body despite considerable sweetness, but here it slowly fades away rather than building up much secondary character. Peach lovers will rejoice. 36 proof. A- / $30
Merlet Creme de Fraise des Bois – Made from wild strawberries, and really quite tasty. The nose and body remind me of those little round cookies with strawberry jam in the middle — full of juicy strawberry flavor, but more tart than the ones you get at Safeway. The rich body plays well with the hefty level of sweetness, leading you to a nicely balanced finish. 36 proof. A / $30
Merlet Creme de Framboise – This raspberry liqueur is quite similar to the Creme de Fraise, with even more of a tart edge. I’d use these two spirits pretty much identically in cocktails, though I think the strawberry-fueled Creme de Fraise has a bit more versatility due to the sweeter flavor profile. 36 proof. A- / $30
Merlet Creme de Cassis de la Saintonge Boisee – Good creme de cassis is never something you want to mess with lightly. Merlet’s rendition is thick, intense, and almost syrupy with an intense and lasting expression of blackcurrants. Use sparingly in a kir royale. 40 proof. A- / $30
C2 is Merlet’s brand name for its line of liqueur-Cognac combos, which currently comprises just two products.
Merlet C2 Citron & Cognac – Aka C2 Lemon. A blend of VSOP Cognac with macerated lemon and lime peels. Lots of citrus, particularly key lime, on the nose, with little hint at what else lies beneath. As you sip, the smooth, vanilla-inflected Cognac character comes across, but it’s whisked away quickly by a big, tart, lemon finish. This is a pleasant enough concoction — almost like a sidecar cocktail in a bottle — but as I sipped it I couldn’t help but think how much I’d prefer just having the Cognac on its own. 66 proof. B+ / $30
Merlet C2 Cassis – A blend of VSOP Cognac and Creme de Cassis. A deep purple in color, proof that a little cassis goes a very long way. I get almost no Cognac in the body on this one (and none on the nose), just a hint of it as the currant character finally fades away, leaving behind a bit of sweetness to remind you of its provenance. B / $30