Reviewed by Colin Hewitt
Over the past few years, you can’t help but have noticed the renaissance of the cocktail bar. However, even with their immense range of traditional and newly invented cocktails, it’s still difficult to discover something genuinely different.
That’s where the new collection of liqueurs, from the Netherlands based De Kuyper Royal Distillery, under the brand name Muyu, enters the scene.
I recently received a 500ml bottle of Muyu Chinotto Nero (ABV 24%). It is part of a range of three liqueurs, the other two varieties being Muyu Jasmine Verte (ABV 24%), and Muyu Vetiver Gris (ABV 22%). Amazonian ingredients inspire each of the drinks but, importantly, not sourced from the Amazon.
Bar-tending royalty Simone Caporale was invited to develop the Chinotto Nero (likewise the Jasmine Verte and Vetiver Gris have been developed by industry experts, Monica Berg, and Alex Kratena respectively).
The bottle itself oozes sophistication. Its matt-black finish is highly tactile, adorned with an Amazonian inspired label, and topped with a natural-cork stopper; it wouldn’t look out of place on the shelves of an apothecary museum. It’s certainly eye-catching, but obviously, it’s not all about the looks.
Liqueurs are often thought of as the sickly-sweet, not so strong, cousin of spirits, and that’s where Muyu, with its natural earthy, and woody flavours, is very different. I would describe it as profoundly citrus and pleasantly bitter.
The rich citric taste is achieved from a base flavour of chinotto augmented by cinchona bark, curacao orange (myrtle leaf orange flavour is also the base flavour of Campari), oakmoss (which adds some earthiness), and cacao (which adds a mellow chocolate aftertaste).
I initially tried the drink, as suggested, in a highball glass, with ice and standard tonic water. Beautiful as it was, I then tried it on its own, poured over a small amount of ice, which I preferred; however, this comes down to personal taste. With the plethora of tonic waters presently available I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the perfect match will be achieved.
I’ll be having a word with my local publican about this range of drinks (I haven’t spotted Muyu in there yet) he’s always looking for fresh ideas and is keen to extend his cocktail menu. Having tried one, I’m very interested in experiencing the flavour of the other two liqueurs.
My only concern, and this takes absolutely nothing away from the fabulous taste of the liqueur itself, is that there should be more cocktail recipes, and serving suggestions available – they’re out there, but you need to search quite hard. Served in a highball glass with tonic is excellent, but if a signature cocktail with a highly memorable name were to be developed, this liqueur would become very well-known indeed (I’m sure this is something the marketing people could work on).
With Christmas and New Year celebrations upon us, this would make a highly enjoyable addition to any drinks cabinet. Well done to all concerned in the development of this very original product.
A well-deserved 5*.
RRP: £28.75 (50cl)