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Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur

Review Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur (83.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on

I was invited visit the local office of the River Valley Beverage Group recently where I met Doug Robb who took some time out of his day to show me around and let me sample some of the spirits which they were importing into Alberta. Just before I was about to leave (after tasting some downright wonderful stuff) Doug asked me, “Do you like root beer?”

I think the question was rhetorical. After all, who doesn’t like root beer? My answer being firmly in the positive gave Doug a reason to reach into a nearby box and he pulled out a bottle of Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur.

This root beer liqueur is produced by White Rock Distilleries of Lewiston, Maine. It is apparently made from a combination of wintergreen, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, anise and sweet birch; the combination of which creates an authentic root beer flavour. Although I was given a few other samples to take home and review, curiosity got the best of me, and the first of the sample bottles which was opened in my tasting room was the Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur.

In the Bottle 4/5

The Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur is bottled in the  squat bottle pictured to the left. I remember a time growing up in rural Alberta when we used to get these traveling salesmen who would drop by. One of the items which my parents would always buy was some old-fashioned root beer which, to my memory anyway, came in a similar bottle.  It could be that bottles of root beer we bought were a lot larger (and of course they were non alcoholic), but the similarity in style brings back good memories.

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured a bit of the Root Beer Liqueur into a shot glass and began my observations. The color is a deep brown with some reddish tinges, and the aroma from the glass is like an old-fashioned root beer flavoured lollipop. I admit that I just sat back in my chair in my tasting room and enjoyed taking wiffs from my glass relishing in the aroma. It was kind of like being a kid again, except that this root beer lollipop has some real ‘pop’ in the aroma that was never included in the regular variety lollipop.

The reason for the ‘pop’ is because under that nice sweet root beer scent is a nice updraft of (35 % abv.) alcohol. You can smell that lightly astringent alcohol aroma rising from the glass wrapped up in the sweet root beer scent. The overall effect is very nice.

In the Mouth 50/60

That root beer lollipop flavour got me in all the right ways as I began to sip from the shot glass. This is sweet, and in some ways it’s a little like root beer on steroids. The 35 %  (abv.)  seems to make the spiciness of the liqueur more intense. The root beer flavour and the sweetness of the drink are much stronger than your regular root beer soda. And although the flavour is undoubtedly root beer, I did notice the wintergreen, the cloves and the anise a little more strongly than I normally do in regular root beer, but it works for me, and I like it!

I decided to mix a bit of the Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur, and I found it mixed quite nicely with 7-up or Sprite soda (see below for recipe). I suspect mixologists more skilled than I can come up with many more ways to enjoy this liqueur.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The finish is quite sweet as you might have guessed, but it is also quite spicy. I noticed the ginger more in the finish than I did on the palate but I also noticed a nice, what I will call a, ‘root beer’ fade in my throat. The light astringency from the 35 % alcohol is still with the spirit but this astringency has seemed to serve the purpose of intensifying the root beer flavour rather than acting as any sort of detriment to the liqueur.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I am impressed. I was very curious about a root beer liqueur but I was not really expecting to be enchanted by the spirit the way I was.  Like any flavored liqueur, this spirit will only appeal to those who like the base flavour. But if you do like root beer, and if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, then the Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur is bound to please you.

You may read some of my other reviews of  Liqueurs and Flavoured Spirits (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

Here is a nice back-deck recipe for a hot simmer day.

Blackmaker Fizz

1 1/2 oz Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur
Lots of Ice
Lemon-lime soda

Build in a tall glass and enjoy!

As you can see the Blackmaker Liqueur will settle to the bottom so you need to stir the drink well before you enjoy it!


My Scores are out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret them as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing spirit.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails.)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

13 Responses to “Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur”

  1. Ian said

    As a Root Beer fan, I purchased Blackmaker out of curiosity because I was not aware root beer liqueur existed. I am also an an illustrator, so the label and bottle also got my attention. Over the next few days I tried it with what I drink normally, coffee, Pepsi Throwback (I also drink sweet tea, but I can’t see that as tasting good at all) Anyhow, a shot mixed with the Throwback was….ok, not great though.
    I tried it with coffee-bad mistake

    Then I tried it with regular milk..this was pretty good. I tried it with one shot of blackmaker, then the next day I did a double shot. The double shot seemed to taste better, and, for whatever reasons I do not understand-seemed to accentuate the rootbeer flavor. So ever since, (last week) my evening ritual would be to have a double shot in a tumbler and top it off with milk.

    I should add that I am just a novice cocktail maker and do it just to see what I like.

  2. jim said

    I have enjoyed 1 part Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur and 2 parts Russian Standard Vodka, making essentially a 75 +/- proof root beer.

  3. Anthony said

    Blackmaker, Whipped Rum, some quality non-alcoholic root beer and a scoop of ice cream… enjoy…

  4. Bugcatcher said

    I’m a HUGE fan of root beer, will never forget the root beer floats of my distant youth, so the idea of a great root beer liqueur really appeals to me. But just one thing – in the old, old days you could still buy real root beer, made without artificial or natural flavorings.

    In your review you mention that this product is apparently made with wintergreen, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and so on, and thus tastes like root beer. I take it this means this not based on real root beer but is flavored to taste like one, is that right? Also are the spices listed real spices, or are they artificial or natural flavorings?

    Knowing what’s in a product would really be helpful to those of us who care.

    • To make a long story short, I am not familiar with the flavouring process of Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur, and therefore I cannot adequately answer your question. The company states that the product tastes like an authentic root beer, rather than saying it is an authentic root beer liqueur. I think we can deduce from this that the flavour would be considered an ‘artificial flavour’ even if the spices used were considered real.The list of ingredients used to make the root beer flavour is consistent with traditional flavours used to make root beer with the exception of sassafras root which is not included as a listed ingredient for Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur. Incidentally the FDA banned the used of sassafras root as a potential carcinogen. When sassafras is used to flavour root beer the oil containing the carcinogen must be removed. Based upon this information, I suspect a truly natural root beer which tastes like the root beer of our distant youth may no longer be possible to make.

      Natural versus artificial flavours is a slippery topic, and an extraction or distillation process which may meet the terms for being classified as natural in one jurisdiction may not meet the criteria in another.

  5. Frederic said

    Have you tried Art in the Age’s Root and if so, how would you compare? I believe that Blackmaker came out after as a copycat about a year later with a much better price point. Bartenders here really like Root but seem to have little clue what to do with it.

    • Hi Frederic,

      I have not tried ROOT and unfortunately it is not available here in Alberta. In fact Blackmaker is the only Root Beer Liqueur available in my locale that I know of. As mentioned in the review this one is a little on the sweet side, my understanding is that ROOT plays a little less with the sugar. (Forrest mentioned to me that ROOT was in his opinion much nicer. than Blackmaker.)

      Cocktails are a real challenge. I tried to make a rum and root beer punch with lime juice and simple syrup, but it didn’t really work out as the lime juice seemed to mess with the root beer flavour in a bad way. When i asked Forrest about cocktails for this liqueur he suggested:

      1 1/2 Oz Canadian Whiskey
      1/4-1/2 Oz Blackmaker

      muddle with a couple pieces of pineapple
      shake and strain onto fresh ice.

      The recipe looks good but I was out of Pineapple so I went with a long drink instead.

      BTW: I appreciate your comments on my reviews Frederick, and i will be doing a couple of Potato Vodkas in the coming weeks. (I think you mentioned once that you really liked a particular potato Vodka so you might be interested in those reviews.


      • Jeremiah said

        Hey Chip,
        Corby’s promotes a rootbeer liqueur, but I can’t remember the name off hand. You should check with the rep to see how it matches up!

    • Amy said

      I have tried both the Blackmaker and Root. Both are good but the Blackmaker has a much better root beer flavor and I found it to be a bit smoother.

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