Just when you thought the world of coffee liqueurs couldn’t get any more innovative, along comes Australia’s Mr Black, with two expressions finished in barrels that had different types of spirits. (There’s also been a liqueur finished in WhistlePig Rye barrels, not reviewed here.) These all start with Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur, Arabica cold brew at heart, then find finishing time in their respective spirit casks. The results speak for themselves. Let’s dig in.
Both are 50 proof and are available as part of limited production runs.
Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur – Rum Barrel Rested – Rested in Bundaberg rum barrels for three months. The rum is on the subtle side but there, imbuing that classic mocha-heavy Mr Black liqueur with notes of sweet toffee and molasses, licorice, and just a touch of overripe fruit, sweetening up the normally pulled-back liqueur quite a bit. The remainder of the experience feels driven mainly by the coffee — nutty, with notes of coconut and, well, a bold espresso overtone. If you like your coffee liqueur with a healthy pinch of sugar, this will be your new go-to. A / $40
Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur – Mezcal Barrel Rested – This bottling goes into Ilegal Mezcal casks for three months, adding a smoky element to the liqueur, something that doesn’t immediately seem obvious. You can’t argue with the results, though. As with the rum, the influence of the finishing cask is subtle, though considerably less so than with the rum barrel expression. Here, the smokiness of the mezcal doesn’t really impact the nose, which remains fruity and boldly mocha-driven, but it influences the palate in a number of ways. The experience kicks off with a sweetened coffee note, then slowly but clearly opening up the smoke vents. The smoky essence of mezcal is stronger at first; it tends to waft out of the glass shortly after pouring and getting a little air. The liqueur is surprisingly fruity on the finish — even more than the rum barrel expression — cherries and apples and raspberries, all with a lick of barbecue smoke in the mix. Exotic and worthwhile. A / $55