The Whisky Exchange
Product of: Italy
Tia Maria used to be simply a coffee flavoured liqueur based on neutral cane spirit with vanilla flavouring and sweetened with sugar. However, since coming into the ILLVA Saronno stable it's quality has been much improved and it is now made with 100% Arabica coffee, Bourbon vanilla and Jamaican rum.
Tia Maria's recipe is a closely guarded secret but, in their words, "So this is what I can tell you:
"Our Master Roaster scours certified Arabica plantations looking for the ideal green coffee beans that will be blended together to achieve that unique coming-together of flavours used for Tia Maria production. We also source pure Bourbon vanilla extract, which is matured for at least three months to intensify its essence. Finally, we select Jamaica's richest White Overproof rum, distilled from sugarcane molasses and cultivated on plantations near the seaside. It is of crystal transparency, decisive, boasts hints of mature fruit and spices and gives Tia Maria its distinctive body and structure. The finished product undergoes a double filtration and is controlled once more before finally being bottled."
About the coffee
- 100% Arabica coffee selected by Tia Maria's own master blender.
- Cultivated on highlands with altitudes that vary from 800 to 1,200 meters above sea level.
- A medium roast at 200°C is used to extract fresh notes of cacao and tobacco.
- The roasted beans are coarsely ground optimise extraction quality and cold-brewed by steeping the ground coffee beans in room-temperature water and alcohol solution for six to 12 hours.
- This cold brew method gives a balanced extraction with low acidity coffee .
- The extraction is then left to settle and then filtered.
About the vanilla
Vanilla contributes soft velvety notes to the liqueur the vanilla used in Tia Maria bouquet is Bourbon vanilla, cultivated in the Sava region on the island of Madagascar, where the climate is warm and humid.
- Madagascar vanilla proposes a complex aroma range with over 170 different compounds.
- The vanilla goes through a complex, 4-phase transformation process.
- The extract of pure Bourbon vanilla is left to mature in a hydroalcoholic solution for at least three months to intensify its essence.
About the rum
ILLVA Saronno say "the structural cornerstone of Tia Maria is the white overproof Jamaican rum. The rum is distilled from sugarcane molasses that have been cultivated on plantations near the seaside. The fresh, salt-imbued air coming off the warm Caribbean Sea makes for a very special crop, as does the more fertile sea-washed terrain."
Tia Maria was originally made in Jamaica using Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans and Jamaican chocolate. It was invented soon after World War II by Dr. Evans in Kingston, Jamaica and legend has it that he invited friends from the nearby Country Club to help select the best formula for the new liqueur. The original alcohol strength of 31.5% alc./vol. was first reduced to 26.5% alc./vol and in some markets, including the UK, the further reduced to 20% alc./vol..
The Tia Maria brand was bought by Pernod Ricard in 2005 when Allied Domecq was disemboweled but was in turn sold to I.L.L.V.A. Saronno Holding S.p.A. in 2009 as part of Pernod Ricard's debt reduction brand sell-off.
Review and Tasting
Sampled on 02/02/2021
Clear, tawny brown and flecks of bronze. Lighter / less dense looking than many other coffee liqueurs.
Roasted coffee with cacao and vanilla.
Roasted coffee with cacao and rich vanilla. Faint notes of citrus and caramel. Well-balanced.
Roasted coffee, cacao, and vanilla with lingering lightly bitter chocolaty notes.
Tia Maria is generally lighter in style than many other coffee liqueurs. Less dense, less syrupy, and less bitter. Arguably subtler and more refined.
The Whisky Exchange
Difford's Guide Certification
Bottle Size: 700 ml
Closure: Screw / Stelvin cap