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Bols Triple Sec

Review: Bols Triple Sec  89/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on May 12, 2013

Lucas Bols advertises itself as the oldest distillation company active in the world today with origins that trace back to 1575. After 438 years, the company has grown to become one of the leading global concerns in the spirits industry. Bols has a presence in over 110 countries selling liqueurs, vodka, gin, and genever. The wide range of  liqueurs is particularly impressive. With 36 naturally flavoured liqueurs, the company can boast the widest range of liqueur flavours in the world.

Bols Triple Sec is a crystal clear liqueur flavoured with sugar, Curaçao orange peel, and hints of citrus. I have met and talked with Bols Flavour expert, Peter Van’t Zelfde, and learned that all of the Bols Liqueurs are made from naturally produced flavours. These flavours have been extracted and/or distilled from base ingredients like fresh fruits and spices. The orange liqueur is bottled at 24 % alcohol by volume.

SAM_0716, Bols Triple SecIn the Bottle 4/5

The Bols bottle design underwent a change several years ago. The bottle shape is softer and more ergonomic than it was previously. It was in fact specifically designed for bartenders to make their job easier. The orange band under the cap allows instant recognition of the flavour of the spirit; the ribs in the glass under the orange band give the bottle better grip; the glass itself is lightweight; and even the bottom shape of the bottle matches a cocktail shaker.

The bottle is designed to look good, to feel good in a bartenders hands, and to allow quick easy pouring of your favourite cocktails. Bols did a good job, except with respect to the flimsy screw cap. I guess you could say that I am on a mission to rid the world of these annoying closures. When the screw cap on one of my bottles accidentally fell to the floor, it warped and would no longer seal the bottle.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The liqueur is clear but slightly thickened in my glass when I serve it at room temperature. However, when I pour it over ice, it becomes more sluggish and displays a light haziness or cloudiness. I am not really sure whether the haziness is caused by aromatic esters, or the relatively high sugar content of the liqueur, perhaps both.

According to the information I have been given, Bols Triple Sec is produced from a blend of citrus fruit which includes Valencia oranges, and lemons. However, the main ingredient, (and the one on full display in both the taste and the aroma) is slightly bitter but highly aromatic Curacao orange. Bols Triple Sec smells sweet, and along with that sweetness is the strong scent of the Curacao orange. The combination of sweetness and orange is penetrating and perhaps even cloying; but it is also very clean. If you search the breezes you find light indications of lemon zest residing beside the orange; but perhaps that is because we were told that lemons are part of that blend of citrus fruit which was used to produce the liqueur.

In the Mouth 55/60

I commented on how clean I felt the nose was for this spirit, and that theme continues though the taste experience. The flavour is all about that intense orange flavour of the Curacao orange with the emphasis solidly on the sweet side of the flavour spectrum. There might be wisps of lemon and mint flavours weaving through the orange grove, but they are only wisps. It is this lack of distraction which sets Bols Triple Sec apart from its orange flavoured counterparts. Cointreau and Grand Marnier each have a soft earthiness lying under the orange flavour, Patron’s Citrónge has a hint of agave herbaceousness, and other branded Triple Sec liqueurs seem to have a taint of artificial flavour. But, Bols Triple Sec tastes clean and unencumbered. It might be more a matter of style, but when I mix cocktails, I find that the clean orange taste the Bols Triple Sec delivers always benefits the resulting bar drink.

In the Throat 12.5/15

If this liqueur has a flaw it is in the intensity of the sweetness. This is most evident in the finish, and as a result the liqueur can become cloying quickly. This also impacts those cocktails I mentioned above, as it usually takes a bit of practice to learn how to adjust your ingredients to ensure the bar drink tastes just the way you want it to.

The Afterburn 9/10

Bols Triple Sec is my ‘go to’ orange liqueur when I mix cocktails. As well as playing well with all major distilled spirit types (gin, rum, whisky, et cetera) it also works well with all of the various ranges of age and style within each type of spirit. I can mix white spirits equally well with Bols Triple Sec as I can mix aged spirits. The clean sweet orange flavour this spirit delivers works well with every cocktail which calls for Curacao.

Although I did not mention it earlier, I also like the toned down alcohol content of the Bols product. I usually like my cocktails to have a gentle kick with flavour rather than alcohol being the main attractant.

If you wish to have some comparative reviews of other Orange liqueurs you may click here.


Suggested Recipes:

SAM_0755 Dreadful Lemon SkyThe Dreadful Lemon Sky

2 oz Blanco Tequila
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
3/8 oz  Bols Triple Sec
crushed Ice
ice cubes

Lemon Slice

Place a lemon slice in a cocktail glass
Place the first four ingredients in a metal shaker with equal parts of crushed ice and ice cubes
Shake vigorously until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain over the Lemon slice in the cocktail glass

Note: This cocktail is part of my series of Tequila based cocktails named after the Travis McGee novels of American author John D. MacDonald. I have always like the Travis McGee novels, and the titles of these novels just seem to me to be particularly well suited to be also the names of great cocktails.


My Reviews contain a rating or score out of 100, and these scores can be interpreted using the following scale:

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)

2 Responses to “Bols Triple Sec”

  1. SeldomSeen said

    Hey Chip – Nice review. Echoes my own experiences with Orange Liqueurs. Bols is also my staple “go-to” for cocktails like Margaritas, Mai Tai’s, etc. Besides being my preference, it’s also easy on the wallet. I love when that happens.

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