While B&B might be found in any liquor store, Benedictine is a bit harder to come by depending on where you live. Last year I was lucky enough to track down a bottle of it and have it stocked in my bar ever since. However, I have since decided to make the switch to B&B (Brandy and Benedictine) as it is more readily available at most stores. So to finish the remaining portion (about 1/3 oz) of my Benedictine I decided to do a side by side taste comparison for you my fellow mixologists.
To begin both are amber colored liqueurs that are priced between $30 and $40. They’re also earthy and herbal with a strong aroma to match.
Ok so let’s start with the one we should already be familiar with here on the blog. Benedictine, has the consistency of a modern blue curacao or dark rum with a slightly thicker consistency than a standard spirit. While technically classified as a liqueur, Benedictine has the full body and kick of a standard spirit. “Clocking in” at 40% ABV (80 Proof), it doesn’t overpower itself with either sweetness or alcohol burn. The liqueur starts very sweet and then moves to a complex earthy (almost green earthy) flavor and rounds out with a little bite on the finish to remind you that it is still alcohol. Like B&B it’s not often mixed with to many other ingredients and is preferred by most sipped over ice.
B&B surprised me by being slightly darker in color than the traditional Benedictine. While the aroma of Benedictine is sweet and herbal, the B&B has much more of a classy brandy aroma. You might even pick up a little oak in that smell as well. B&B starts off sweet like it’s predecessor, however the mid palette is where everything changes. The herbal quality is very subtle and if you weren’t looking for it you might just miss it. The after taste is much cleaner and it leans very much to the fine French Brandy that is contains. Being a mixed liqueur it is also on the thinner side of the viscosity spectrum and feels a bit lighter in the glass. I certainly wasn’t expecting such a distinct difference in flavor for this particular mix. While it is similar in color B&B is a very different liqueur which will both allow me to try new recipes but also be cautious in substituting it for Benedictine in the future. At the same 40% ABV, you certainly feel more of the kick when drinking it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Between the two of them I will continue to recommend Benedictine, however if B&B is all your can find I believe it will suffice for a mixed drink just fine. Just don’t give one of them to someone on ice and try to convince them it’s the other.