Review: Cointreau (82.5 pts/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka) Arctic Wolf
Published on May 14, 2013
Adolphe and Edouard-Jean Cointreau first established their distillery in 1849. Although their first success was with a wild cherry liqueur called Guignolet (still available in France); they are more famous for the production of their sweet orange liqueur, Cointreau which was first distilled by Edouard-Jean’s son Edouard. The first bottles of Cointreau were sold in 1875, and by the early 1900’s, sales had reached 800,000 bottles per year. The brand is now owned by Rémy Martin, with annual estimated sales of 13 million bottles, world-wide.
According to the Cointreau website, this orange liqueur is produced according to a secret recipe which includes sun-dried orange peels, alcohol, sugar and water. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 4/5
To the left is the square brown bottle with the dusky orange top which houses Cointreau. Apparently the four-sided bottle was ‘invented’ by Edouard Cointreau (the son of Edourd-Jean) in the same year that he distilled the first batch of Cointreau. A modern version of this square bottle is still in use today over 135 years later. It is hard to argue with such long-term success, although I find the plastic cap tends to get gummy with the sweet residue from the liquid inside after only a few pours. I wonder to myself if there is not a better way to seal the bottle to avoid this problem.
In the Glass 9/10
Cointreau is clear in the glass with a slightly thickened appearance consistent with other orange liqueurs in my marketplace. The nose is very nice with a clear orange notes radiating from the glass into the breezes. I catch wiffs of both fresh-cut Valencia oranges, and what smells to me like the peel of both Mandarin and Curacao oranges. I also note a distinct impression of lemon drop candies wandering through those clear orange notes. The nose is delightful and vibrant.
In the Mouth 49/60
Unfortunately, the delightful nose does not translate completely through to the flavour experience. The liqueur has a lightly musty and lightly sour taste which accompanies the sweet flavour of Valencia orange juice and the lightly bitter flavours of orange peel. If you have ever bitten into an orange that has just started to go soft, you know what that lightly musty, lightly sour taste impression is like. When I mix simple cocktails, some of that light mustiness always seems to sneak into the flavour, and rather than it complementing the resulting bar drink, I find the flavour distracting.
In the Throat 12.5/15
The finish is quite complex with both bitter and sweet orange flavours pushing though to the exit. That lightly musty and lightly sour earthiness seems to ebb a little in the exit. Adding to the earthy character, I seem to notice a vague woodiness and a light herbal aftertaste after the Cointreau is swallowed.
The Afterburn 8/10
I use Cointreau sparingly in my recipes, and when my current bottle is emptied, it is doubtful I will restock it. There are just too many orange liqueurs which work better for me. Bols Triple Sec is cleaner, Grand Marnier has a wonderful softer earthiness, and Pierre Ferrand’s Dry Orange Curacao (and Patrón’s Citrónge) both have more interesting character that translates to the cocktail. There is nothing terribly wrong with Cointreau as my score of 82.5/100 attests; however, on my liqueur shelf, it seems to have become lost in the shuffle.
If you wish to have some comparison reviews of other orange liqueurs you may click here.
The Scottish Tumbler
2 oz fine blended Scotch Whisky (I suggest Old Parr Superior)
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lime
Orange and Mango Soda
Build on Ice in a large Tumbler Glass.
Garnish with a slice of Lime
(In my locale a great Orange and Mango soda is available from Koala Coolers)
My Reviews contain a rating or score out of 100, and these scores can be interpreted using the following scale:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)