What Does Drambuie Taste Like? Is It Sweet or Bitter?

Is Drambuie worth trying, or is it another nasty liqueur you should leave on the aisle? In this article, we will break down what this unique alcoholic actually is, its flavor and how to best enjoy it! 

What Is Drambuie?

Drambuie is a liqueur made from herbs, honey, and scotch whiskey. Drambuie is a digestif and best drunk after a meal. It was created in 1910 in Scotland and has a lovely golden color and is 40% ABV.

Is Drambuie a honey liqueur? Drambuie is a honey liqueur made from scotch whiskey and herbs and infused with heather honey. Drambuie is known for its strong sweet honey taste.

A honey liqueur refers to any alcoholic beverage that is flavored with honey. Most honey liqueurs feature grain-based alcohol, honey, and a blend of herbs and spices. Drambuie is made with real heather honey, so it is definitely a honey liqueur. Heather honey has a reddish, amber color and has a lovely tangy, smoky and sweet flavor. Drambuie’s sweetness is thanks to its heather honey-infused recipe.

Is Drambuie a digestif? Drambuie is a digestif because it is sweet (contains heather honey), has a high alcohol percentage (40%), features scotch whiskey (popular digestif alcohol), and is made from a blend of herbs.

Aperitifs are drunk before a meal and are meant to whet your appetite. Aperitifs are traditionally low in alcohol (12% to 20%) and are bitter and acidic. In contrast, digestives are meant to be drunk after a meal and aid digestion. Classic digestives are high in alcohol content (30% to 40%), have spices and herbs, and have a sweet flavor.

Drambuie fits the standard description of a digestif. Drambuie has a high alcohol content (40%), is made from a blend of herbs, and is a sweet honey liqueur. Drambuie’s base is also scotch whisky which is a popular digestif.  

Is Drambuie a cognac? Drambuie is not a cognac because it is not made from grapes. Drambuie is a liqueur because it contains a secret blend of scotch whiskey, herbs, and heather honey. Drambuie is also a sweet digestif.

Cognac refers to distilled white grape juice, which is aged in French oak barrels for at least 2 years and produced in the Cognac region of southwestern France. Drambuie doesn’t fit this description at all because it is made in Scotland from honey, herbs, and scotch whisky, which is grain-based alcohol. Drambuie contains zero grape juice!

What Does Drambuie Taste Like?

Drambuie tastes like smoky scotch whiskey with a strong sweet candied honey flavor. You can taste black licorice and a range of citrus flavors, such as orange peels. Drambuie coats your entire mouth and is syrup with a very sweet flavor combined with a bitter herbal taste.

Drambuie tastes like a syrupy, very sweet scotch whiskey with hints of vanilla, lavender, anise, and citrus. The sweetness from the heather honey is powerful and slightly overwhelming and is combined with a strong bitter flavor. The aftertaste will remind you of a bittersweet medicine and is definitely an acquired taste. Unfortunately, the aftertaste is similar to cough syrup.

Is Drambuie sweet?

Drambuie is very sweet because it contains heather honey. Drambuie has a candied honey syrupy sweetness that almost overpowers the entire beverage but is slightly subdued by a bitter herbal flavor and hints of black licorice, lavender, and orange peel.

The first thing you will notice when you drink Drambuie is the very sweet honey flavor. Drambuie contains real heather honey, which completely covers your mouth. The syrupy texture combined with the sweet honey will remind you a little of cough syrup. Drambuie is not only sweet as it features a range of herbs that produce a bitter flavor. The bitter flavor reduces the sweetness, but Drambuie still tastes like candied honey.

Is Drambuie bitter?

Drambuie is mostly sweet and tastes like candied honey. However, Drambuie also has a powerful bitter herbal taste. This Scottish liqueur is made from various herbs, and you can taste black licorice, lavender, and orange peels.

Drambuie is predominantly a sweet honey liqueur. The thick texture of this scotch whiskey blend will coat your entire tongue with a syrupy candied honey flavor. However, your taste buds will also be hit with a range of bitter herbal flavors. You will be able to taste anise, bitter fruits, overripe berries, and even lavender.

Drambuie Alternatives

What drink is similar to Drambuie? Drambuie tastes similar to other scotch whiskey and honey blends such as Lochan Ora, Grandtully, and Glayva. You could also substitute Drambuie with a honey liqueur-like Barenjager, which is vodka-based, or even a sweet whiskey liqueur-like Southern Comfort.

Drambuie’s main ingredients are scotch whiskey and honey. There are other liqueurs, such as Lochan Ora, Grandtully, and Glayva, which have the exact same bases as Drambuie and are very similar taste-wise. These scotch and honey liqueurs each taste a little different as they have their recipes. For example, Glayva features Mediterranean tangerines, cinnamon, and almonds combined with whiskey and honey. 

If you can’t find a scotch and whiskey liqueur, you could try a honey liqueur with different base alcohol. The German vodka and honey drink Barenjager is tasty, especially straight out of the freezer. Alternatively, you could try a sweet whiskey or bourbon, which may not contain honey but still mimics Drambuie’s sweet flavor, like Maker’s Mark or Southern Comfort.

Is Drambuie a good drink?

Drambuie is a good drink if you like sweet honey liqueurs, scotch whiskey, and bitter herbal flavors. Drambuie is much thicker and more precious than standard scotch whiskey and may take some getting used to if you are a straight scotch drinker.

Drambuie is definitely not everyone! The syrupy texture and combination of sickly sweet and strong bitter flavor has some comparing it to cough syrup. If you don’t enjoy honey, then you won’t like this drink, as heather honey really shines through and almost overpowers the drink. Drambuie is also strong at 40%, so it is not good if you are looking for a lighter, smoother beverage. Drambuie is a good drink for people who like the taste of scotch, enjoy sweet liqueurs, and are not turned off by a variety of herbal flavors.

How to Drink Drambuie?

Drambuie is best drunk straight on the rocks with a candied cherry on top. If you are looking for a weaker drink, Drambuie is also very tasty with club soda, ginger ale, or ginger beer. Drambuie is a digestif and is best drunk as a nightcap after dinner.

Most people prefer to drink Drambuie neat on the rocks. The scotch whiskey honey blend was designed to be drunk straight and does not require any mixers. However, if 40% ABV is too strong for you, then we recommend adding in some club soda or ginger ale. Drambuie tastes great with some added fizz!

What does Drambuie go well with? Drambuie goes best with club soda, ginger ale, or ginger beer. If you want to get more exotic, you can try an apple juice and lemon juice Drambuie cocktail. Or keep it simple and sip straight on ice.

Drambuie is a pretty versatile drink. The most popular ways to drink it are straight on the rocks or with club soda. It also goes very well with ginger beer. Adding some fizz to Drambuie really enhances the flavor. If you are feeling adventurous, try making a lemon calm which features Drambuie, apple juice, lemon juice, and vanilla syrup.


How strong is Drambuie?

Drambuie is 40% ABV and has the same strength as scotch whiskey, even though it is a honey liqueur. Despite its high alcohol percentage, Drambuie is a smooth liqueur and is best drunk straight on the rocks.

Should Drambuie be refrigerated?

Drambuie does not need to be refrigerated. You should store Drambuie at room temperature in a dark place, away from sunlight. However, once opened, it should be placed in the fridge.

How long will an unopened bottle of Drambuie last?

An unopened bottle of Drambuie should last for up to 2 years if it is stored at room temperature, away from sunlight, and the lid is secured. An opened bottle of Drambuie should last for 6 months if refrigerated.

Final Thoughts

Drambuie is a slightly controversial scotch whisky honey blend. Many whiskey purists find Drambuie overly sweet and bitter and resemble cough syrup. However, the candied honey flavor combined with the mixture of herbs creates a unique and smooth digestif that can be an incredible nightcap on a cool winter’s evening. To truly enjoy Drambuie, we recommend drinking it straight on the rocks or adding club soda.

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