99 Bananas Liqueur’s high ABV aims to put you in a tipsy, tropical-inspired mood, though its artificial colors and aromatics leave a lot to be desired.
Distillery Polynesian Products Company
Proof 99 (49.5% ABV)
Its high ABV makes this liqueur good for high-dilution frozen drinks, where this works best.
When diluted, its texture becomes more emulsified and silky.
The aromatics and flavor are clearly artificial. No real bananas were sacrificed to make this liqueur.
Nose: The artificial aromatics are a dead ringer for banana Laffy Taffy, with a bit of new-plastic aroma mixed in.
Palate: Undiluted, the high ABV is overly angular on the palate, but when diluted appropriately, it has a more-pleasant rounded mouthfeel. The flavor of artificial banana, however, is very strong.
Finish: Artificial banana and some textural oiliness linger.
There is an entire catalogue of 99 liqueurs—over 25 in total, ranging in flavors from apple and pineapple to butterscotch and root beer. But the 99 Bananas bottling is the original release from this line of high-ABV liqueurs. The number is the proof, certainly not the quantity of bananas that went into it. In all likelihood, no real bananas were used in the making of this spirit. But who knows, really? Its owner, the Sazerac Company, maker of many fine spirits, will not reveal the ingredients or production methods for this bottle.
But then again, this is not the spirit for which most drinkers are going to want to dive into the details. It’s meant to be carefree and very, very boozy—and it certainly achieves those goals, as long as you’re willing to overlook its clearly artificial flavor.
If you’re whirring up frozen drinks with lots of dilution for a crew that just wants to have fun and not engage in long conversations about the origins of a spirit, then this is an adequate pick. It’s cheap and offers plenty of boozy bang for the buck. But if you really want the flavor of bananas in, say, a Banana Daiquiri, you’re better off choosing a different bottle than this liquored-up liquid Laffy Taffy.
Despite the tropical palm-tree-like vibe of 99 Bananas’ labeling and flavor, it’s actually made in Louisville, Kentucky.