Cream liqueurs: Our favourite niche category in the spirits segment
1. What exactly is a cream liqueur?
Let’s take a step back and start with some basics.
What is a liqueur?
It is an alcoholic drink (liquor/spirit) that is sweetened and flavoured with other ingredients, such as fruit, coffee, nuts, herbs, spices, etc. So, as you might have guessed already, a cream liqueur is a liqueur that contains cream.
2. Is this the same as a crème de … liqueur?
Cream Liqueurs and Crème Liqueurs
As weird as this might seem, since cream and crème are essentially the same word in two different languages, the answer is no. Cream liqueurs contain cream, while crème liqueurs contain no cream, and do have a higher sugar content and thicker texture than regular liqueurs. Fun fact: if you see a product that says “crème de” then this product does not contain cream and falls under the crème liqueur category.
However, some brand owners differentiate their non-dairy “creamy” drinks from dairy cream liqueurs by referring to them as crème liqueurs, but we always recommend checking with your local labelling authority.
3. What is the right way to spell this creamy alcoholic beverage?
Do you know how to spell this creamy alcoholic beverage?
If there was a list of the most misspelled words out there, we are pretty sure cream liqueurs would make the Top 10 (okay, probably Top 20).
If you’ve ever spelled them as cream liquors, crème liquors or crème liqueurs, you are not alone. A look at Google Trends shows that cream liquors and cream liqueurs are both popular, however the latter is the winner in most regions.
Now that you know the right way to spell this creamy alcoholic drink, there is no excuse to misspell cream liqueurs (although if you do, we won’t hold it against you).
4. Liquors, Liqueurs, Cream Liqueurs – what is the difference
An important point of differentiation among these three types of alcoholic beverages, is their level of alcohol.
According to this chart on thespruceeats.com Spirits (or liquors in the US) usually range from 20-75.5% Alcohol by Volume, while Liqueurs can range from 15% and can go all the way up to 55% Alcohol by Volume.
Most Cream Liqueurs on the other hand, typically range from 15% (again depending on local regulation) to 18% Alcohol by Volume, so they do fall on the lower side.
5. When did cream liqueurs first appear?
Cream liqueurs date all the way back to the 1970s, when they first surfaced as an Irish delicacy. Since then, the cream liqueur segment has gained significant popularity and is consumed all around the globe.
6. What makes a good cream liqueur?
The basis of every good cream liqueur is a stable emulsion.
If you don’t know what an emulsion is, it is the combining of two liquids that are immiscible, or in less technical terms, do not naturally mix. In the case of a cream liqueur, these two liquids are cream and alcohol. The beauty of a cream liqueur is a stable emulsion, which will remain intact for a long period of time. Of course, there are so many other factors to consider, such as the known fading of colours and flavours over time, but a stable emulsion is “the foundation” of a good quality cream liqueur.
Looking to launch an emulsified beverage? You’ve come to the right place. Explore some of our options here.
7. Storage and Handling
As a rule of thumb, cream liqueurs are shelf-stable and do not need to be refrigerated. However, there are certain conditions that will maximise the life of your cream liqueur. We always advise limiting the product’s exposure to direct sunlight and high temperatures.
If you are interested in launching your own cream liqueur, more information is available. Just send us a note!
If you are a consumer (or retail customer) make sure to always check the product label for any special handling instructions. Generally, cream liqueurs do not require refrigeration but refrigeration will certainly increase the product life. Also, be sure to close the bottle tightly after serving to prevent alcohol evaporation.
8. Standard of identity
There are different regulations around the world regarding what can be called a cream liqueur.
In the US, cream liqueurs need to have cream (dairy cream) and meet an official standard of identity for liqueurs (info can be found on the TTB.gov website). However, the plant-based and free-from trends, have created demand for vegan offerings which we believe would still fall under the standard of identity for liqueurs similar to how cream liqueurs are currently treated, but make sure to check with your local regulatory authority.
9. Flavours and Spirits
The great thing about cream liqueurs is that they are so versatile.
They can be created with any type of flavour (including botanical extracts, essential oils, essences, etc.) or spirit.
For many years, consumers seemed to think that cream liqueurs were either chocolate or coffee flavoured and were a cold-weather or seasonal drink. We’ve proven that fruit flavours work very well in cream liqueurs and have year-round appeal. In fact, flavours can be fruity, spicy, savoury, or a combination of these. The possibilities are endless!
Related but somewhat different are wine creams. These are simply cream liqueurs where we’ve replaced the spirit alcohol with wine.
10. But I thought cream liqueurs were only consumed in the winter!
During product development we can adjust the formula to achieve the desired end-product, whether it is a thicker, indulgent cold-weather drink or a lighter-bodied, fruit-flavoured, refreshing summer-time drink. Cream liqueurs can be consumed neat (made without ice or mixer), straight up (chilled), on the rocks, or as a cocktail ingredient.
Get creative! Try it over ice cream or add it to your coffee for a cappuccino cream liqueur.
Be aware that acidic ingredients (such as coffee, juice or carbonated beverages) may cause the product to curdle. If you’re interested in launching a mixable (low pH) cream liqueur, we have a solution!
If you are ready to launch your cream liqueur or just want to learn more, drop us a line and our team of experts will reach out.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch our What is a cream liqueur video, this is the time to do so!