Cocktail bitters are so diverse you can be very focused like Black Cloud’s Charred Cedar Bitters and try to balance and bring out the best elements of a particular flavour, combine several and try to balance them out well, or just go bananas and give it a fun name and theme. A flavour and even a scent like cedar can quickly become overpowering so finding the right balance, dilution, and point in the maceration process is extremely key here.
Charred cedar is definitely towards the more floral and aromatic spectrum when it comes to cocktail bitters, rather than sweet, savory, or spicy; though Black Cloud’s definitely do have an underlying spice to them when tried straight up. As for the taste you can certainly expect the cedar, which for me always brings back memories of an old steamer chest my mother used to have filled with blankets and guest linens, she would keep little heart shaped nuggets of cedar in it to give it a pleasant smell. Here’s the actual review:
Smell: Cedar, as to be expected, a bit of cola syrup, a bit of the char / burnt wood, and an underlying perfume akin to lavender or dried roses.
Taste: Charred cedar exactly as you’d expect, though it isn’t overpowering. It coats your tongue like a light perfume, as above there is a slight spice to it, I can’t pick out what exactly, it may be the alcohol or an added actual spice. Following those again you get floral notes like edible flowers, lavender, and rose.
Bitterness: 3.5 of 5 This isn’t extremely bitter, which works well as it’s quite aromatic and floral, if it was any more I think it would spoil it.
Overall, these bitters deliver exactly what they say, Charred cedar, but are nuanced by their spice and floral notes. They would make themselves at home in any whiskey cocktail that calls for sweet vermouth, especially if all you have on hand is something cheap, they’ll balance it out extremely well and give it that added depth you may be searching for. Apart from that, I would recommend them in gin drinks to help balance out any that may be too sweet or citrus based, and would add some different notes to aged tequila and white rum’s.
Thanks again Rob for sending these over and keep your eye out for more cocktails with them in the future. Cheers.