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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Drinks and Food Fee vs Taylor's Falernum
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Fee vs Taylor's Falernum
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 31, 2009
Posts: 368
From: Cincinnati, Ohio USA
Posted: 2009-09-10 11:54 pm   Permalink

I know-This subject has been touched upon in previous posts. however I have a new twist on this question: Locally I can buy both Fee's Falernum (for $4.27/750ml) and Taylor's Velvet Falernum (for $18.99/750ml). Of course I'm wondering which is better, but also which is better for the money? Let's say that Taylor's is better, is it substantially better than the Fee's for the money at a ratio of better than 3:1? And while the Fee's is non-alcoholic, I understand that it was designed by none other than Dr. Cocktail himself, Ted Haigh, to work in classic tiki cocktails.

What do those of you that have used both falernums think?

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leisure master
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2007
Posts: 435
From: The exotic village, NYC
Posted: 2009-09-11 06:06 am   Permalink

I would say yes, absolutely the Velvet Falernum is 3x (or more) better than the Fee's. If you ever have the opportunity to compare them side by side you would never use the Fee's again. All of Fee Brother's syrups taste very artificial and plastic to me - but that may be a necessity if they have to use preservatives and artificial flavors.

I think Velvet Falernum tastes at least 80% as good as home made - which is not that hard to do. I use a varation on this recipe if you're inclined to make some.

I'm not an alcoholic, I'm an enthusiast.

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Rum Balls
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Oct 04, 2004
Posts: 880
From: Portland, OR
Posted: 2009-09-11 06:39 am   Permalink

It's important to note that Velvet Falernum has alcohol in it, while Fee's and others are non-alcoholic.

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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 1018
From: Redondo Beach
Posted: 2009-09-11 10:17 am   Permalink

Taylor is more similar to the old Sazerac brand falernum and has an alcohol content that extends it's shelf life. Fee's is a non-alcoholic syrup with a good falernum flavor. I typically use the Taylor because I find it easier to get than the Fee and I like the flavor a little better. Still, I would have to say that the Fee Bros. is better for the money and if Fee was easier for me to find than the Taylor I would probably use it more.

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Shaun of theTiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 25, 2008
Posts: 109
Posted: 2009-09-11 11:16 am   Permalink

I'd stick with Taylor's since it lacks the nasty tart of Fee's. I know that Beachbum Berry often recommended Fee's in his Sippin' Safari book, but Taylor's works much better.

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 06, 2008
Posts: 23
From: Near Boston, MA
Posted: 2009-09-11 1:08 pm   Permalink

I view them as almost two completely different flavors / drink components. As was mentioned above by another poster, I personally think that the Fees has an emphatically artificial flavor. When I've previously used the Fees that note has punched its way through a drink in a way that I personally don't like. When you're using good rums, fresh juices, etc., I find the Fees to clash with all those other items. That being said, the Bum suggests using it as do some other writers. Maybe it is just me.

If I had a choice, I'd always reach for the Velvet. It seems to blend with other flavors in the recipes without dominating them.

I haven't done it previously, but many other posters have also encouraged trying to make your own. Maybe someday I'll get around to giving that a try...

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 31, 2009
Posts: 368
From: Cincinnati, Ohio USA
Posted: 2009-09-11 9:13 pm   Permalink

Well I ended up buying the Fee's. The Mrs. & I are going to California on vacation on 3 weeks and I need to save economize anywhere that I can right now. I made a Jet Pilot with it last night and it made an really good cocktail. I won't say that it better than Taylor's, the Taylor's is probably a superior product and money no object I'd buy Taylor's. But when I need to save a few bucks or if Taylor's is out of stock I think that Fee's is quite serviceable. It's a solid fall back. I'm going to try a few other recipes with the Fee's tonight.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 31, 2009
Posts: 368
From: Cincinnati, Ohio USA
Posted: 2009-09-12 12:57 am   Permalink

OK it's nearly 4am and Ive had a few cocktails tonight. And a few more including a round of Don's Rum Barrells & a round of '34 Zombies (X's 2). The Fee's held it's own. Taylors is better but is Fee is all you can get your not gonna suffer, Solid stuff that.

BTW got my first order of Clement VSOP this week. Made a hell of a Mai Tai along with Appleton Estate V/X & Torres Grand Orange. Not as good as the same drink made with La Favorite Vieux, but good.

Off to the land of nod now........

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 04, 2003
Posts: 226
From: Stockholm, Sweden
Posted: 2009-09-15 12:26 pm   Permalink

I was able to choose between Taylor's and Hanschell's and went for the latter after reading some negative opinions on Taylor's.

I've used it in quite a few different drinks by now and am very pleased with the results.


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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 06, 2008
Posts: 23
From: Near Boston, MA
Posted: 2009-09-20 4:28 pm   Permalink

I've got to modify some of what I said up above in this thread. This weekend I decided to give my bottle of Fees another try, and I felt almost 180 degrees different than my earlier tests. This time it was in a Puka Punch using Lemon Hart 151, Coruba, Cockspur 12, Bacardi white, fresh muddled pineapple, home made passion fruit syrup (50/50 Goya passion fruit pulp and simple syrup), the Fees, bitters and fresh squeezed lime and OJ. I thought it tasted great.

Can't explain why I had such a negative reaction last time. Perhaps I really messed up on a measurement last time.

If you can get both I'd suggest buying both and sampling at different times. It could be that different combinations / recipes make a big impact (at least for me).

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 31, 2008
Posts: 49
From: I'll give you three chances to guess
Posted: 2010-01-16 10:54 am   Permalink


On 2009-09-11 10:17, PiPhiRho wrote:
Taylor is more similar to the old Sazerac brand falernum and has an alcohol content that extends it's shelf life.

That's what I would have thought, and I've never had a problem with the Taylor's going bad. But, of the five bottles remaining at my local liquor superstore today, all five had brownish mold-looking crap floating throughout. The clerk said it was probably sediment, until he looked at one of the bottles. He immediately grabbed all five, and said "Yeah. These are all going back to the distributor." Which left me running low on falernum.

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 11, 2005
Posts: 39
Posted: 2010-01-19 6:42 pm   Permalink

time to check my bottles for floating crap...

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Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Jun 23, 2006
Posts: 464
From: Stuart, Florida
Posted: 2010-01-20 6:25 pm   Permalink

I have 8 bottles of John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum left from a case purchased over a year ago - - still clear; no floaters.

I bet you feel more like you do now now than you did when you came in.


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Joined: Apr 08, 2010
Posts: 10
Posted: 2010-04-27 9:12 pm   Permalink

Three falernum taste off! Featuring the Hawaiian Eye.

I have been using Fee Brother's falernum for a while now. It was recommended in Sippin Safari and I just stuck with it. Walking around Hi-times yesterday I saw two other falernums and decided it was time for a taste off! I looked for a drink I figured would really showcase the falernum and decided on the Hawaiian eye because of what appeared to be a clean flavor profile and a reasonable (i.e. small) size.

Just so everyone is clear I'm using the Hawaiian Eye recipe from Tiki+. (1/2 oz. Fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz. falernum, 1/2 oz. simple syrup (using 2:1 mix this time), 1/2 oz light rum [I don't have any Hawaiian Rum], 1/2 oz gold Puerto Rican Rum, 8 oz crushed ice. Blended for 5 seconds with a drink mixer.

Drink grade: B+. Too sweet, but that's nothing to do with the falernum. In the future I'd use a 1:1 simple syrup. I enjoy the small size of the drink, as it goes down quickly while still very cold and the taste remains consistent. Also, you can have a few without getting hammered. No way I could do this test with a Zombie! The Hawaiian Eye would be a terrific pre-dinner amuse bouche.

First falernum up: Snug Harbor. The falernum comes in a small, clear, glass bottle. The falernum is dark in color and there's a fair amount of particulate matter floating in the bottle. No worries there for me, I make a bunch of syrups and particulate matter floating stuff is part of using natural ingredients. 3% alcohol.

The drink tastes completely natural. No plastic-ness too it at all. The primary taste of the falernum is clove. There's just a hint of all spice and maybe, at the edge of my perception, a bite of cinnamon. Snug Harbor's bottle claims there's almond extract in their falernum, but I can't taste it.

Second falernum up: John D Taylor's Velvet Falernum. The falerum comes in a large, clear glass bottle. The falernum is a very light pale yellow, absolutely crystal clear. 11% alcohol.

After the first drink this is a real disappointment. The complexity of the flavor has almost completely disappeared. There's a vague, clove and allspice taste, but it seems unnatural, as the drink now has a mild astringic taste which I always think of as "cheap mixer from plastic bottle" flavor. There was no plastic bottle involved, so now I know that unpleasant flavor is something else. If I paid for this drink I'd be disappointed and wouldn't really believe that there was fresh lime juice in it. The clove taste became stronger as the ice melted, but became sharp and charming.

Third falernum up: Fee Brother's West Indies Style Falernum. The falernum comes in a large, clear plastic bottle. The falernum is a cloudy yellow, almost light orange-ish, but with no clear particulate matter floating in the bottle. Non-alcoholic.

The drink is still too sweet, but the mild astringic taste is gone replaced by a not un-enjoyable note of bitterness. The cinnamon is much more prominent than in the Snug Harbor, but there's definitely some clove there. Still not tasting any almond. The drink is light and pleasant again, but lacks the complexity that characterized the first drink. Maybe the rum is affecting my taste buds. I'd order this drink again, but wouldn't rave about it. None of the taste I think of as "cheap mixer from plastic bottle", so now I'm totally confused as to what that taste really is.

Overall Snug Harbor is the big winner, with Fee Brother's a reasonable second. I'll give Doctor Taylor's another chance, but not in this drink. I've heard it goes nicely in a Corn n' Oil.

Falernum is one of the few syrups (orgeat being the other) that I haven't made myself yet, so perhaps it's time to give it a shot. Or maybe I'll just run over to Don the Beachcombers and beg Marie for half an ounce to take home with me!

[ This Message was edited by: TikiByrne 2010-04-27 21:26 ]

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Joined: Apr 20, 2010
Posts: 4
Posted: 2013-06-25 11:04 am   Permalink

Thank you all for the great chatter on Falernum. As the Founder and maker of Snug Harbor Falernum I would like to share a few comments on our product. First, our Falernum does have Almond extract in it. It does not include cinnamon but there can be a sense of a smell like cinnamon which comes from the specific blend of the clove, ginger and almond. The smokey residue that accumulates at the bottom is due to the non filtered nature of the product and the ever so slight carmelization of the organic unrefined blond sugar as it is slow simmered/boiled. You may have noticed that our alcohol content is only 3%. The small amount of Rum that is added is for stabilization and preservation. As a fellow Tiki Head please don't forget the other great uses of Falernum such as over fruit, (strawberries and grapefruit sections are Bomb)in ice tea, over ice cream (Vanilla Bean Vola!) and mixed 50/50 with maple syrup and laced over waffles or pancakes. When in doubt Falernum works !!

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