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Review: Mandarine Napoleon Liqueur

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mandarine napoleon

Was Napoleon an orange liqueur man? My sources say he drank Burgundy and Cognac — like a good Frenchman should — so how would he feel about an orange liqueur being sold in his name? Well, guess what: This liqueur was made especially for Napoleon Bonaparte, and wasn’t offered to sale to the public until 1892.

Unlike a regular triple sec, Mandarine Napoleon is made in the same style as Grand Marnier, blending liqueur with brandy. But while Grand Marnier is a blend of straight orange liqueur and Cognac, Napoleon uses mandarins to make the liqueur (hence the name). The mandarins used are sourced from Sicily and Corsica. The Cognac used is a 10-year-old edition, which is quite aged and which, I would imagine, is used sparingly in the blend due to its relative cost. Artificial color is used to give it a deeper orange character.

The nose is pure tangerine, undercut with alcohol notes. On the body, there’s more sweet citrus, with a rich, lightly oxidized palate kicking in quickly. Spices including cinnamon, licorice, and cloves, with plenty of sugar to sweeten the pot. The brandy mellows and enriches the concoction, giving it a warming, woody, and more exotic flavor. The body is a bit on the syrupy side — common for orange liqueurs — but it isn’t cloying. The finish is of course quite sweet, and lasting like an orange hard candy. I really enjoy margaritas made with Grand Marnier in lieu of standard triple sec, and I this excels in much the same way.

Mandarine Napoline is successfully it spinning the triple sec formula thanks to its unique tangerine flavors, and its moderated sweetness makes it enjoyable both on its own and as a mixer. The retro bottle is a bit off-putting, but look beyond the tinted, textured glass and to the liquid within.

76 proof.

A- / $30 / mandarinenapoleon.com

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Mandarine Napoleon Liqueur

$30
9

Rating

9.0/10
Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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9 Comments

  1. Edoc February 13, 2012

    Sadly, not a whole lot cheaper than GM.

    Reply
  2. Hector Maldonado February 14, 2012

    Has this changed in formula? The bottle I have, purchased about 5 years ago (and before the label was updated) is clearly tangerine/mandarin in flavor, nothing like grand marnier which is distinctly orange.

    Reply
  3. Hector Maldonado February 14, 2012

    Very interesting- I will have to break out my bottle of MN and GM and compare blindly. I remember seeking the MN out specifically because it was a mandarin flavored liqueur, and I felt that it was true to it’s claim. That being said, I think tangerines and mandarins are interchangeable, but both very distinct from oranges. Who knew citrus flavors were so subjective!

    Reply
  4. Cognac J February 15, 2012

    Ah – and what kind of glass should you drink this from? A cognac glass, a liqueur glass? This site shows lots of different options http://www.cognacglasses.com/ And for sure I’m going to try MN and compare it to GM :-)

    Reply
  5. Christopher Null February 15, 2012

    Cognac J – I think you’d be fine in any tulip-shaped glass. I used my whiskey tasting glasses, actually.

    Reply
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  7. Robyn February 25, 2015

    It is most definitely NOT a Grand Marnier “clone”. It does not taste of orange but rather of mandarin/tangerine, it is nowhere near as sweet, and it is much headier due to being made with high quality brandy. Honestly, if a person can’t taste the difference between oranges and tangerines, they should not set themselves up as a reviewer. :-(

    Drink it from a brandy snifter. The Cognac deserves it, and the aroma of tangerine in the glass is just heavenly.

    Reply
  8. Richard February 28, 2015

    I would most hardily agree with Robin. I have done the taste test myself and with several of my family and friends and we all agree that this is a much better product than GM, in smoothness, flavor and aroma.

    Reply
  9. Richard February 28, 2015

    opps……..heartily agree with Robin!!

    Reply

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