Another year is upon us, which means Kahlua is here to try its hand at another holiday release (though this one will be part of the permanent collection going forward). Up for 2016: chili chocolate, which sounds like a fair enough experiment.
This one works better than most of Kahlua’s recent concoctions, finally dialing the sweetness back to a more manageable level. By using chili pepper, Kahlua gets to sidestep some of the issues that come with, say, pumpkin spice or gingerbread flavors, namely the need to liberally dose these liqueurs with tons of sugar.
While the nose is classic Kahlua — coffee, with a reasonable amount of sugar added — the body kicks in immediately with the heat. I figured a Kahlua product would play things safe, but that’s not the case here. This is really quite spicy, an authentic-tasting chili heat that can really scorch the tongue and throat if you let it linger. Chocolate notes are present, though they aren’t the main event. (In time, dark chocolate is more evident on the nose than anything else.) The finish finds the coffee making its strongest showing, but it’s the chili that sticks with you for quite some time.
All told, this might be Kahlua’s best seasonal release to date. I can see why they’d want to add it to the permanent lineup. (I think it’s better than standard-issue Kahlua too.)
B+ / $16 / kahlua.com
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