The R&W liqueurs (along with the other Haus Alpenz spirits) are now invading Chicago, so I've started seeing them. In fact, I bought a bottle of the Apricot Liqueur, which is fantastic. I got a bottle of the Batavia Arrack in SF, although I've not yet experimented with it.
I had another taste of the Violette at The Violet Hour last week, and it was very good. Complex, not too sweet, with a nice lingering violet flavor. I also had a cocktail with it on Saturday night with some friends, and it was delightful then as well. It really shined in the cocktails. The key seems to be that both of these bottles were brand new, just opened. The bottle we tried in San Francisco (both in a cocktail and straight) had been there for awhile, and the bartender we talked with wasn't a big fan, so I don't think it was used very often.
To be fair, we've also noticed changes over time with the Miclo. I went back and revisited a bottle I opened on Labor Day here (early Sept. for those not in the US), and it has already changed color some and the violet flavor has declined some. What's left is on its way to a sweet, nondescript liqueur. We keep it now only to see what else might happen to it. I have another new bottle on hand for when I'm ready to embark on a Violette fest.
What to Do, What to Do
The key may be this: like any liqueur (or vermouth, etc.) that is not above a certain proof, it should be used quickly or else refrigerated. If it is not, the flavor will decline, and the spirit could potentially go bad.
I think this happens fairly often, and its a mystery to me why it doesn't get talked about more. Many a bartender/bar owner I've met uses only economy-sized bottles of vermouth, even though they rarely pour it, and they don't refrigerate it. It seems like manufacturers don't do enough to tell people how to handle these products either. Some products say something on the label, but many don't.
Anyone else have any stories with spoiled spirits? I'm thinking of a bad experience with a cream liqueur many years ago that enlightened me to the need for refrigeration...