Lovely complex liqueur with flowery, spicy,citrusy notes
Notes: We first reviewed Sorel 11 years ago when it first emerged into the spirits and cocktail market. After a number of logistical challenges and hiatus from production, we are happy to report it is back!
Sorel Liqueur from Jack from Brooklyn is not only a small batch product; it is a surprisingly, perhaps refreshingly, small company of 4 talented individuals working in a small pre-civil war building in Brooklyn. Sorel itself is an interesting mix of ingredients, Brazilian cloves, Indonesian cassia, Nigerian ginger, Moroccan hibiscus, pure cane sugar, and organic New York grain alcohol. The partners developed this traditional Jamaican-style libation from a homemade recipe to a commercial and shelf-stable liqueur ( not an easy undertaking in/on many points). The short form on how it’s done: They do a flavor extraction on a proprietary mix of exotic spices and add pure cane sugar. They source the finest organic wheat base grain spirit (as they believe wheat adds the creamiest texture market has to offer), ( which, by the way, is from New York State to boot, making it organic and somewhat locavore) and mix the extract with the organic grain alcohol to reach their target proof. Batches are then racked and cold-filtered, then bottled and labeled. Total time from start to finish: 48 hours.
Appearance: Red/deep pinkish, almost purple, brilliantly clear, leaves very even edge line on swirling.
First Impression: Lovely spicy floral bouquet with hibiscus, clove, ginger, cinnamon, and citrus aromatics with very nice cassia, pepper, and slightly bitter notes, all blending in for an overall intriguing and pleasing tease for your nose.
Taste: A very interesting melange of spices with the cloves and hibiscus taking the forefront and the cassia and ginger backstopping the sweetness and adding some bitterness and a little heat to balance out the sweetness.
Drinks: While not as aggressive as a pimento liqueur and far more floral, it works well for a number of cocktails calling for Pimento Dram and is also a lovely swap out for maraschino liqueur especially in a Last Word Cocktail, or use it instead of Creme Yvette or Creme de Violette, but in both cases, you will get much more flavor-forward notes.
Bottle: Tall clear glass, rectangular base with curved sides tapering at the shoulder to a round neck. Label and graphics are tastefully done, resembling antique-type labels. Small neck collar label with clear plastic neck wrap topped by a black plastic cork ( seals the aroma in better than a natural cork) imprinted with JFB in bronze/gold letters.
Other: A recipe 500 years in the making. Support a small business. Unlike a host of other small spirits companies, JFB has not taken the money and sold out to a huge corporate entity that then proceeds to cheapen a worthy brand for profit. Jackie has stubbornly clung to this brand and kept his and Sorels’ integrity intact.
Final Thoughts: An entirely different form of liqueur from most things you have ever encountered, combining floral, herb, and spice notes in some very interesting, if somewhat challenging, ways. Think of this as somewhere between a Pimento Dram, Cherry Heering, and a ginger liqueur. While not as aggressive as a pimento liqueur and far more floral and delicate by comparison. A great liqueur on its own and a great one for mixing some inventive cocktails.