Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sukkah Hill Spirits Liqueurs: Etrog & Besamim

I don't drink a lot of liqueurs, but every once in a while I find one that's interesting. Sukkah Hill Spirits, named for the outdoor shelters from the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, is a small, Los Angeles area company. Like many liqueur start ups, it was started by a culinarily inclined couple who used to blend alcoholic infusions for holidays (hence name). They went into business and are now making two liqueurs:  Etrog, based on a rare citron-like fruit, and Besamim, a sweet and spicy liqueur.

As a base, both spirits use a neutral spirit distilled from cane sugar in South Africa. They use all natural ingredients with no artificial flavors or coloring, and both of their spirits are certified Kosher. They sell for $33 for a 375 ml bottle.

Etrog (38% abv) has a great nose with bright citrus notes. On the palate, it has a light citrus flavor with none of the Lemon Pledge notes that are so typical in citrus liqueurs. As with most liqueurs, it's too sweet for me to drink straight, but it does well in cocktails.  In terms of whiskeys, they suggest adding it to rye, which is good, but I prefer it with heavily peated Scotch since I love the combination of sweet and smoke. It's like a citrusy, smoky Rusty Nail.

Besamim (37% abv) is a delicious, spice mix with tons of cinnamon (real cinnamon, not that Red Hot style flavor you get in flavored whiskeys), clove and ginger; they hand grind the spices for it. It's pretty much pumpkin pie in a bottle, and puts you right at the Thanksgiving table.  There are tons of cocktail possibilities, but honestly, I just like to sip it neat, even as sweet as it is. That warm holiday feeling that it gives me will be perfect when it starts to cool down around here.

Occasionally I'm surprised by something I wouldn't normally like, and these liqueurs are really good. If you have a sweet tooth, I would definitely recommend them. They may have a holiday theme, but you don't have to wait until the high holidays or Thanksgiving to give them a try.

Thanks to Sukkah Hill Spirits for providing samples of their spirits.

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