Newest Review: ... wrapped around the neck. The label shows a picture of an elephant with the word Amarula writ large above it. The bottle does also flare eve... more
Member Name: fizzywizzy
Advantages: A pleasing taste
Disadvantages: Calories, sugar, fat
Amarula is a cream based fruit liqueur from South Africa which is made from the fruit of the marula tree. It may appeal to those who like drinks like Baileys Irish Cream because it's a creamy drink with a warming kick of alcohol, or those who like fruit liqueurs.
The marula tree grows only in sub-equatorial areas of Africa and, despite attempts by farmers to cultivate it, it only grows wild; interestingly, the male tree bears the flowers, while the female tree bears the fruit. The marula is an integral part of the culture of the Zulus who regard it as a symbol of fertility and refer to it as the "marriage tree". Whether there's any scientific evidence to recommend this I couldn't say but I know it's a very pleasant drink to sip over ice; maybe if you drink enough of it you'll be in the mood for lurve.
For thousands of years the fruit of the marula tree have been eaten in Africa, and not just by elephants who will charge at the tree to knock off the berries so they can eat them (and who's going to argue if an elephant is heading towards their local marula tree). The oil from the marula tree is reputedly rich in antioxidants and oleic acid and the flesh of the fruit is high in vitamin C so it's not all bad news, however when you factor in the cream that goes into the production of Amarula you're now looking at 158 Calories, 6.1grams of fat and 15.3 grams of sugar for one 1.5oz glass serving. The alcohol content is 17 per cent.
We all deserve a treat now and then, though, so what exactly does it taste like? Well, the fruit flavour is not actually as dominant as you might think; I tend to think of it more as being scented with the marula rather than flavoured. There's a slight floral flavour and aroma but actually there's a smell and taste of toffee that's actually more pronounced than the fruit.
The texture is as smooth and silky as you'd hope for and consistency-wise you'd hardly know it from Baileys or one of the higher quality Irish cream liqueurs (I stress higher quality as cheap versions can often be very thin and runny).
The cream is not too overpowering but it does have an underlying taste of butter and, personally, I find one small measure of Amarula over ice quite sufficient and I might drink this at the end of the evening or at the end of a meal, like I would with a Baileys. What I would probably prefer is a just a fruit liqueur flavoured with marula fruit: indeed, this is exactly how Amarula was originally when it came onto the market back in 1983. I was only a kid then so I've never tasted that. The cream based version was launched in 1989 and was so much more popular than the original that they stopped manufacturing that and now only make the cream variety. I have added a dash of Amarula to a black coffee as if making an Irish cream coffee but with the floral flavour it doesn't work at all. On the other hand, a little drizzled over vanilla ice cream is quite divine.
The packaging deserves a brief mention because it does convey an idea that this is quite a traditional product with some heritage behind it, rather than simply being a shade over thirty years old. The bottle is an unusual shape and the nicely illustrated label shows a charging elephant, heading straight for his next fix of marula berries I presume. A gold braid ties around the bottle hints again at tradition and luxury though it's a teeny bit kitsch, if you ask me.
Once opened you should keep your bottle of Amarula in refrigerated or at least in a cool place. It's good for two years once opened which may seem like forever but actually it takes me forever to get through a bottle and for this reason I tend to buy the 700ml bottle rather than the 1 litre.
In the UK Amarula can be bought in most large supermarkets and speciality off licence stores. In July 2011 Tesco and Sainsburys are selling a 70cl bottle for £12.49 while ASDA (Walmart in disguise) are managing to sell it for a mind bogglingly cheap £8.00 (but do remember that Walmart in the States tend to fire workers when they unionise).
This would make a good gift for someone who likes cream based liqueurs; it's a little bit different from the norm and looks like a really special drink because of the presentation. Not for those watching their weight but lovely for an occasional treat.
Summary: Africa meets Ireland and the result is Amarula
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