Review: Chinola Passion Fruit Liqueur
It looks like, what? Cantaloupe puree? A glass of POG? It’s really hard to say: Thick, cloudy, and a ruddy shade of orange, but what it is is Chinola (chee-noh-lah) — not a juice but a liqueur, branded based on the name given to the passion fruit in the Dominican Republic.
Chinola hit the market first in 2015, but it’s slowly making its way across the U.S. The Dominican liqueur “has a unique blend creating an old-world artisanal style liqueur that balances tart and sweet essences with tropical aromas. Absent of artificial additives, each bottle contains roughly six large passion fruits, all of which are grown in the Samaná peninsula along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, a fertile valley between the mountains and Caribbean Sea. With a focus on sustainable practices, the sugar cane and rum used in making Chinola are locally sourced within the Dominican Republic. Beekeeping also has a presence on the farm, as honeybees are utilized to assist with the critical task of fruit pollination. In pursuit of quality ingredients, the team created a passion fruit hybrid out of two varietals brought in from California and Honduras giving Chinola Liqueur a distinct sweet and tangy taste.”
Intensely fruity on the nose, there’s no mistaking the passion fruit in the mix here, although notes of papaya and guava give the liqueur a little added substance and richness. Sweet, sour, and a touch salty, there’s definitely a lot going on aromatically. The palate follows suit, a distinct tartness giving the liqueur a slight mouth-puckering quality, followed by that floral passion fruit note, some sour citrus, a touch of peach, and more of that papaya-guava mix. Surprising in its complexity, the liqueur is racy and exciting — yet it doesn’t feel particularly versatile, destined certainly for beachside sippers and, perhaps, an alternative spin on a Bellini. That said, it’ll work just fine in a pinch in cocktails which call for passion fruit juice but where none is to be had.
B+ / $33 / chinola.com [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]
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