Drambuie is a sweet, golden liqueur that is made from Scotch whiskey, herbs, spices, and Scottish heather honey. After taking a sip, the initial taste is overwhelmingly sweet and whiskey-like; other flavors you may detect include honey, licorice, cinnamon, and orange zest.
Have you stumbled onto a dessert recipe that calls for Drambuie? Maybe you're trying to make a classic Rusty Nail cocktail that requires this liqueur? If you don't want to buy a whole bottle, then you're going to need a Drambuie substitute. We've compiled a list of our favorite alternatives so that you can get by without the original ingredient.
What can I use to replace Drambuie?
If you need a substitute for Drambuie then your best options are Lochan Ora, Grandtully, or Glayva. Although each replacement has its own flavor profile, they'll all work nicely in any cocktail or food recipe that calls for Drambuie. In a pinch, you could also use Southern Comfort, Bénédictine, or Triple Sec. If none of this sounds appealing, then try our recipe at the bottom of this page for a simple way to make Drambuie at home.
1. Lochan Ora
Lochan Ora is produced by Chivas Brothers and its name can be translated to “Golden Loch Liqueur”. It is made from a blend of 100% Scotch whiskies and is our recommended substitute for Drambuie. You will find that this drink is extremely sweet on first taste, but a smoky, herbal undertone eventually comes through.
Considering it has 35% alcohol content, it is surprisingly smooth, with a wonderful warming effect. Sipped on its own, you may find this liqueur is too sweet, but it won't let you down when added to a cocktail. It can also be used in cooking to macerate fruit and bring flavor to trifles, mousses, or other desserts.
Grandtully is a less expensive bottle of liquor than Drambuie but we think it is no less delicious. This is an herbal liqueur that has a strong honey component. Compared to Drambuie, it is a little sweeter and has a stronger honey and anise flavor.
In recent years Grandtully has become harder to find on the shelf at bottle stores, but you should still be able to find some online without too much hassle.
Glayva provides a unique sweet, smooth drink that is very popular. It is a deep golden color and is made from a blend of Scotch whiskies that have been aged. Although the proprietary recipe is kept under lock and key (like all products on this list) a variety of flavors dominate this drink like honey, almonds, cinnamon, and tangerines.
Glayva and Drambuie both have Scotch whisky as their foundation, are sweetened with honey, and have an herbaceous undertone. This makes Glayva a suitable alternative for cocktails, puddings, sauces, or practically any dessert.
4. Southern Comfort
Although Southern Comfort sits on the liquor store shelf next to whisky products, it isn't a bourbon or scotch. It is made using a combination of spirit base (like vodka), spices, and fruit. The result is a strong tasting, sweet spirit with a dominant apricot flavor.
This option may not provide you with the perfect Drambuie replacement, but it will certainly have similar levels of sweetness and alcohol along with a whiskey base. The best part is you'll save a few dollars as this is a cheaper option.
Related reading: What are some good substitutes for Jim Bean?
Bénédictine is a smooth, sweet liqueur that is made from a variety of 27 different herbs, spices, and peels. It has a subtle taste of honey as well as licorice and sweet spice. Although both liqueurs have similarities, you'll find that Drambuie is overwhelmingly Scotch and honey, while Bénédictine has a neutral spirit base and the honey notes are barely noticeable.
6. Triple Sec
We added Triple Sec to this list for those that are looking for an alternative flavor because they don't enjoy the taste of Drambuie. Instead of providing sweet honey notes, you'll find that Triple Sec has a strong orange flavor and is also very sweet. For the creative mixologist who likes experimenting with different ingredients, this is a versatile drink. It works great in a wide range of cocktails like the Midori Illusion, Cosmopolitan, White Lady, or Margarita.
7. Make your own
- 1 bottle (fifth) blended scotch
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Peel of one orange
- Peel of ½ lemon
- 8 cloves
- 1 Tbsp Angostura
- ½ cup honey
- Add all the ingredients to a large bottle and allow to sit in a cool, dry place for 2 weeks.
- Shake the bottle and strain the liquid to remove any solids, then serve.
Commonly asked questions
Can you drink Drambuie straight?
Drambuie can be consumed neat, with ice, or combined with your favorite mixers such as ginger ale or club soda. It can also be used to replace whiskey as an ingredient in an Irish coffee.
What are the best cocktails that use Drambuie?
Although the most common use for Drambuie is the Rusty Nail cocktail, it can also be used to make a Whiskey Sour, Scotch Coffee, or a Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Can Drambuie be mixed with Coke?
It is okay to combine Drambuie with Coke but keep in mind that you will be mixing two very sweet drinks. You may want to balance it out with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
How should Drambuie be stored?
Liqueurs like Drambuie, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Jagermeister, or Limoncello are best stored in the refrigerator once opened. High proof liqueurs like Drambuie can potentially last for seven years or more before needing to be discarded.
Is Drambuie a digestif?
Drambuie is traditionally consumed as an after-dinner digestif on the rocks or on its own in a shot glass. Its herbaceous, whiskey-like flavor makes it ideal for adding to cocktails as well.
Drambuie is a sweet liqueur made from Scotch whisky, honey, and a range of herbs and spices. If you need to replace it in your next cocktail or dessert then you are best to use Lochan Ora, Glayva, or Grand Tully. Although they won't perfectly mimic the flavor of Drambuie, most people will barely notice the difference once it's added to a drink or other food. Of course, if you're looking for an after-dinner digestif then nothing will perfectly replace the unique taste of Drambuie.
What is your favorite liqueur? Please let us know in the comments below.