Both Carolans and Baileys are exquisite Irish cream beverages mainly used as cocktail mixing ingredients. Since they belong to the same category, they are bound to share some similarities. However, Carolans and Baileys are pretty different. So, what are the differences between Baileys and Carolans, and which is better?
Baileys is an Irish cream native to Ireland, while Carolans is a derivative of Irish whiskey, but an Irish family established it in London. Baileys exhibits individual notes, while Carolans’ flavor is more of a blend. Baileys is better suited for rich, alcoholic mixes, and Carolans is better for desserts.
Although Baileys and Carolans are often seen as very similar, they are different, and, as such, each of them has its specialty and works better when properly used. In the following paragraphs, I will describe these Irish creams and hopefully help you use them better.
Carolans vs. Baileys: Differences
While both Baileys and Carolans are Irish cream liqueurs and have very similar appearances, they are different. Both are sweet and rich, but each works best when you know how to use it. While Baileys is better for alcoholic mixes, Carolans is better for spiked desserts.
Ingredients and Preparation
Neither Carolans nor Baileys would have become so popular if they weren’t made with quality ingredients. They are both expressively creamy and rich as they contain genuine dairy cream, among other ingredients.
The base for both Carolans and Baileys is Irish whiskey, known as one of the world’s best whiskey. Irish whiskey is one of the most sought-after spirits, as it is popular for its purity and warmth. All Irish whiskeys age for a minimum of three years, but many go well above this period aging for over 20 years.
Although the Irish whiskey used in Baileys hasn’t been officially revealed, the rumor is that it is Jameson Irish whiskey. If so, then the Irish whiskey in Baileys ages for a minimum of four years, but again, no official statement has been given on this.
What is known, though, is that Baileys contains cocoa and vanilla extract. The Irish whiskey flavor, mixed with dairy cream, cocoa, and vanilla, creates an amazing flavor combination and a very rich texture.
Carolans is also made with Irish whiskey, but it contains honey and dairy cream in addition to the whiskey. The Irish whiskey used in Carolans remains a mystery, but it is, without a doubt, a high-quality one.
Both Baileys and Carolans are mass-produced, but there are many recipes you can follow to make your own Irish cream at home.
When it comes to flavor, both Carolans and Baileys are exquisitely delicious, and they are incredibly rich and impeccably refined. There is a theory that both these drinks were initially intended for women as they are soft and gentle, and women tend to prefer these kinds of flavor notes.
However, they grew in popularity so much that everyone now loves them equally. While Baileys exhibits individual tasting notes, and you can feel them all as the sip unravels, Carolans is more of a blend.
You can distinctly feel the cream, cocoa, coffee, and sugar in Baileys, while in Carolans, the flavors mix into a single flavor unit. Carolans exhibit hints of honey, cream, burnt sugar, and of course, Irish whiskey,
However, the individual flavors don’t come through in Carolans, but they all blend in a single flavorful and colorful note.
Appearance and Consistency
Baileys and Carolans have very similar appearances, from the bottle’s shape to what’s inside. Some would even say that the bottles would get easily mixed up without the label.
Both Baileys and Carolans are medium dark brown color with shades of dark chocolate and coffee. They are very rich in appearance, which is nothing compared to how rich they are in consistency. The cream is noticeable, giving both drinks a light moose-like dimension.
Both are high in viscosity, thick, and impeccably creamy. You may even describe them as pudding-like.
While Baileys is known as a cocktail ingredient, most famous for White Russian and Black Russian, Carolans is more popular among spiked non-alcoholic drinks or desserts. It is an excellent ingredient to hot chocolate, iced coffee, and chocolate pudding, as well as neat on the ice paired with a decadent dessert.
The fact that Baileys is better as a cocktail mixer doesn’t make it ill-suited for another purpose, such as a dessert drink or a spiking drink, but it tends to do better with other alcohols than Carolans.
Price and Popularity
Baileys seems to be more popular among the general public, while Carolans is very well-known among whiskey enthusiasts. The thing is, Carolans came after Baileys, so it entered a market where Baileys was the well-established and almost unbeatable competitor.
Therefore, when most people think Irish cream, they will more likely think of Baileys, which is why Carolans is better known among those who are better educated in this subject. Nevertheless, the difference in popularity is getting smaller as Carolans become rapidly popular.
Price-wise, Carolans are cheaper than Baileys. A 750 ml. bottle of Carolans is approximately $17, while a 750 ml. bottle of Baileys costs about $29.
Carolans vs. Baileys: Which Is Better?
Depending on what your preferences are, both Carolans and Baileys can do a good job. Baileys would be a better choice if you are more in the mood for a cocktail, and it is more colorful and complex, exhibiting individual flavors.
Carolans works better for desserts or spiked drinks, so if you want to have a dessert or coffee, or hot chocolate, you should use it. Since Carolans is more of a flavor blend, it works excellently with rich flavors.