What is Tuaca? The word on the street is that it is a super premium, brandy-based, Italian liqueur. Now, anytime I hear or read the words “super premium” I become a bit skeptical. What is super premium anyway? Premium should be enough of a description, but I digress. Tuaca is a fruit, citrus and spiced brandy which is probably meant to be sipped neat. So that’s the way I approached this product, as a brandy. For me brandy goes into a glass sans the ice cubes and mix, it is enjoyed for what it is. When you pour a dram you can see that it is viscous, which means there is going to be a good amount of sweetness, but when you read the bottle you will also see the alcohol kick is 35%. The colour is a deep gold, similar to a well-aged brandy. On the nose, you will get a whiff of vanilla and citrus. It is reminiscent of Navan vanilla cognac, but definitely not as strong, and there are the other fruit and citrus notes that make Tuaca distinct.
When you take a sip of Tuaca the first impress is sweetness followed by some vanilla and citrus, with some brandy and wood notes that provide a subtle spiciness. The finish is fairly nice, with a bit of brandy warmth and the oak wood notes hanging around for a while. Tuaca is a well-crafted liqueur that is well balanced in the sweetness, and the alcohol content is a reasonable 35%. As a straight liqueur I really like this product, but then again I have that little issue with vanilla that makes me like a spirit more if you put vanilla in it. Aside from that, this is still a good liqueur.
There was a recipe book that was included with the Tuaca and it kind of perplexes me, but when I think about it a bit, it’s not so confusing. You see, in the recipe book it provides recipes like Tuaca, Lime and Coke which when you think about it would not make a very good drink. Tuaca is sweet and adding it to a sugar-laced Coke would be really sweet, which throws the balance right out the door. As you go through the booklet the only recipes included are unoriginal copycat drinks like the following:
Tuaca Lemon Drop
Tuaca Blaster (add Red Bull)
Tuaca and Coke
And the list goes on. These copycat recipes don’t do anything to highlight the flavours in the liqueur, they are just riding the coattails of drinks that already exist. From a marketing point this may seem like a smart move, but from my point of view, it marginalizes the product. There is no doubt that this is a good product, but covering up the flavours with Red Bull or making a pseudo pina colada out of it? What they should do is hire some mixologists and come up with three outstanding new creations and put their marketing efforts into that. Then they may be able to create the next Cosmopolitan, Pina Colada or Margarita. A popular, well-crafted drink will create a self-sustaining market to promote their product. Anyway, my point is that too many companies are creating and releasing great products, but then they spend 10 minutes to create a list of has-been recipes to promote mixing their product.
My overall opinion is that Tuaca is a good sipping brandy liqueur. I like it straight and warm because I don’t want to dull down the flavours, but feel free to take the manufacturers recommendation of drinking Tuaca on ice. It will also make a great mixer in some custom cocktails. In the future, I will mix a few Tuaca base cocktails that highlight the quality of the product.