A few years ago, my husband and I travelled to Belgium and the Netherlands. One of the friends we made on our South Africa trip lived in Maastricht. She graciously offered to let us stay with them while we were in Maastricht so we could catch up and visit.
When we arrived at their house, she opened the fridge to reveal a huge variety of local beers her boyfriend purchased for us to try. (These are the kinds of travel friends everyone should have!)
But the one liqueur they brought out of the cupboard that left the biggest impression on us, was Dropshot.
She poured each of us a shot of this murky black liquid and told us to toss it back. We did, and it was an instant shock to our taste buds.
It tastes very similar to liquified dropjes, those double-salted liquorice candies that are so popular in Dutch circles. You may also see salty liquorice labeled as salmiak liquorice, which is black liquorice flavoured with a special salt called salmiak salt (ammonium chloride). This type of salt adds more complex flavours of tannins and slight bitterness than regular table salt (sodium chloride) does. The pastille candies are typically thin and shaped like a diamond. But we’ve also purchased some that were thicker and square or rectangular, like the sample below.
This actual history of salty liquorice pastilles isn’t very well known. But liquorice and ammonium chloride were often used as cough medicine. At some point the two ingredients were incorporated to create pastille candies. They became quite common across the Nordic countries, such as Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands sometime in the 1930s.
Personally, I don’t mind black liquorice but I really can’t stomach the super-salted varieties.
Dropshot starts off salty. But it quickly spreads across your tongue to give you a sweet, intense black liquorice flavour.
Dropshot isn’t as salty as dropjes or salmiak liquorice, luckily. The saltiness is just a trace in the first sip, almost like a lightly salted coating. And once you get passed that little jolt, it gives you the good stuff. It reminds me a bit of Jagermeister, only not as herbal. It’s quite smooth actually, almost syrupy, without being sickly-sweet. It would be lovely on ice too I imagine, but it’s also nice straight up.
After we left our friend’s place, we checked out a few liquor stores and found some Dropshot to bring home to Canada. We’ve had this bottle since 2012, and have been sipping it ever so slowly because it’s quite unique, I don’t know of anything like it here in Canada.
De Kuyper Royal Distillers makes Dropshot liquor, and their website shows where you can purchase it if you’re ever in the Netherlands and want to give it a try.