PNW Ginger Liqueur

IMG_5355When people think of the Pacific Northwest, they think of rain, green firs and ferns, salmon, and ginger (record scratch). OK, maybe not ginger. However, it turns out that we have a number of local distillers who are producing some very nice ginger liqueurs. So we decided to do a little taste test and see how they compare.

The three we chose are the Depth ginger liqueur from Sound Spirits, the ginger liqueur from New Deal and the ginger liqueur from Spiritopia (we actually received a free sample from the latter, and we liked it so much that we bought some ourselves). First up, we tasted each side by side.

Sound Depth

  • Nose: Mild ginger and creamy, malty lemon.
  • Palate: Creamy, malty lemon to start (go figure). Mid-palate adds ginger and a bit of black pepper. Finish is warm, slightly tingly ginger. Faintly bitter aftertaste with the ginger lingering. Very smooth. Moderately sweet.

New Deal

  • Nose: Strong fresh ginger plus a hint of candied ginger. Little bit of alcohol bite.
  • Palate: Start to finish, lots of hot, tingly ginger. Under current of molasses and root beer on the mid-palate. Ginger warmth and a very slight hint of kaffir lime on the finish. Tastes the most like fresh ginger.


  • Nose: Mild ginger, vanilla,caramel.
  • Palate: Very sweet, heavy intro with vanilla and caramel. Strong vanilla continues on the mid-palate moving into a fairly hot ginger bite on the finish. Sweetest of the three by far. But don’t let that fool you, the finish is also the hottest of the three.

All three are very different, which we love. We have so many bottles in our bar because we love having options. Do we want a little bit strong ginger, or perhaps we want something more subtle, or perhaps we want something sweeter with more complexity. When you’re as obsessive as us, it’s really important to have options when you’re mixing up a drink. 😉 Speaking of mixing a drink, we don’t mind if we do! Christa was thinking that rye with its spice and sweet, oaky backbone would stand up well to the assertiveness of ginger, so we decided to go with that.

Happy Lion

  • 1 1/2 oz rye
  • 3/4 oz ginger liqueur
  • 1/4 oz curacao
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 4-5 drops Boker’s bitters
  • 1/2 bar spoon orange flower water

Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

IMG_5349Sound Depth

  • Nose: Yeasty biscuit, orange blossom and orange peel. Faint ginger. Little bit of rye spice.
  • Palate: Sweet orange blossom and malty, creamy lemon to start. Mid-palate is rye spice and baby aspirin orange (not in a bad way). Finish is ginger with hints of oak wood and orange peel. Ginger tingly-ness provides a surprisingly strong aftertaste. Orange is brighter and stands out more compared to the others. Smoothest and most integrated of the three.

New Deal

  • Nose: Strong ginger and orange blossom. Subdued rye.
  • Palate: Cleanest and lightest of the three. Ginger from start to finish on this one.  Intro is ginger, orange curacao and orange peel. Mid-palate is sweet orange and toasty rye spice with a hint of orange blossom. Finish is strong ginger and more orange blossom. Hands down the strongest ginger flavor of the three, with the ginger heat and tingle accumulating with each sip.


  • Nose: Vanilla, molasses, orange peel. Toasty barrel notes. Ginger. Bit of rye spice.
  • Palate: Intro is vanilla, orange curacao and orange peel. Mid-palate is surprisingly light, with floral orange notes and baking spices. Caramel, vanilla and ginger on the finish. Tasty but a little overly sweet for our palates. If you prefer your drinks a little drier, we recommend leaving out the simple syrup if you use the Spiritopia.

Not surprisingly, all three produced very different results. The Sound produced a very nicely balanced drink that featured the ginger but didn’t smack you in the face with it. Whereas the New Deal brings the ginger at every step, producing a drink with a lot of fresh, clean bite. Finally the Spiritopia brings a lot to the party with its sweeter, spicier character. We feel the Spiritopia would be a great substitute for vanilla syrup in tiki drinks if you want a little more pizzaz, and just a great match for rum drinks in general. As per usual, which one you want is really going to be a matter of preference. Though if you’re like us, you want all three so you can have exactly the right flavor profile for the drink you are making.

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