Cream liqueurs, not to be confused with crème liquors, are made by adding dairy cream and sometimes other flavorings to a distilled spirit. Cream liqueurs are most commonly made with finished spirits such as Irish whiskey, Scotch whiskey, and rum. Cream liqueurs are milky and opaque, and often have additional flavors such as chocolate, white chocolate, caramel or coffee added.
Cream liqueurs are a newer addition to the commercial market than fruit liqueurs, and came into being in the 1970's. Heather Cream, which is made from Scottish cream and a single malt Scotch whiskey from the Balbar distillery in the Highlands, hit the market in 1980. Heather Cream is one of the better known Scottish cream liqueurs, and carries hints of coconut and chocolate. The Irish cream liqueurs are the best-known, thanks in no small part to Bailey's Irish Cream which is the best-selling of all cream liqueur brands in the world, and is exported from Ireland to over 180 countries. The Irish cream liqueurs are made from Irish whiskey, and include the brands Carolan's and Brady's. Bailey's, which is also the single best-selling liqueur in the world, also makes Bailey's Irish Cream Caramel.
Rum cream liqueurs, which originated in Jamaica and may have been inspired by the Scottish and Irish varieties, are growing in popularity. The first rum cream liqueur, Sangster's Rum Cream, was introduced in 1983 and remains the most popular rum cream liqueur on the market. El Dorado also makes a rum cream liqueur based on its gold Demerara rum.
Tequila Rose, a cream liqueur made in the U.S., is based on tequila and flavored with strawberry cream. Hutchinson's Ginger Cream and Amarula are other cream liqueurs available. Amarula is made in South Africa and has a caramel-like flavor imparted by the yellow berries of the Marula tree.
Cream liqueurs are usually sweet, and often served chilled or over ice as an after-dinner drink. Bailey's Irish Cream and others like it are commonly drunk added to coffee or hot chocolate, and are used in cocktails such as the Mudslide. Variations on the Chocolate Martini, White Russian, and Grasshopper are also made using cream liqueurs.