Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Lydia Martin
When it comes to indulging in Irish cream liqueurs, two names stand out prominently: Carolans Irish Cream and Baileys Irish Cream.
As someone who has explored and tasted the rich world of liqueurs, I’m excited to share my insights on the fun debate between Carolans Irish Cream vs Baileys.
So, if you’re torn between these two cream liqueurs, keep reading!
Carolans Irish Cream vs Baileys Comparison
Carolans and Bailey’s both deliver smoothness, creaminess, and indulgent experiences, suitable for making a mixed drink.
Like Bailey’s, Carolans hails from Ireland and is known for its quality. This creamy delight is crafted with fine Irish whiskey, fresh cream, and a hint of choco.
Carolans drink provides a velvety texture with a toffee taste and vanilla flavor notes.
“Experience Ireland’s liquid poetry through the decadent, flavorful notes of Irish cream aperitifs.” – Liquor Laboratory
In contrast, Bailey’s drink boasts a similar blend of Irish whiskey and cream but has a distinctive flavor profile. It exudes sweet, dark chocolate notes and a bit of caffeine taste.
Regarding alcohol content, Baileys and Carolans boast an ABV of 17%, though lower than whiskey’s robust 52-66%.
This moderate alcohol concentration allows for a gradual infusion of alcohol flavor to the taste profile of each drink.
Baileys vs Carolan’s Irish Cream Liqueur Cheat Sheet
|Aspect||Carolans Irish Cream||Baileys Irish Cream|
|Type||Cream Liqueur||Cream Liqueur|
|Base Alcohol||Irish Whiskey||Irish Whiskey|
|Flavor Profile||Toffee, Vanilla, Chocolate||Chocolate, Coffee, Creamy|
|Sweetness Level||Moderately Sweet||Moderately Sweet|
|Alcohol Content||17% ABV||17% ABV|
|Notable Cocktails||Carolans Iced Coffee, Carolans Colada||Baileys Irish Coffee, Baileys Martini|
|Varieties||Carolans Salted Caramel, Carolans Original||Baileys Original, Baileys Almande|
|Price Range||Around $17/750ml||Around $29/750ml|
How Are They Different?
Carolans, introduced in 1978 by the William family in the UK, is a derivative of Irish whiskey but not native to Ireland. It’s currently produced in Ireland but owned by a Kentucky-based distillery.
In contrast, Baileys pioneered Ireland’s liqueur, blending Irish whiskey and cream from the start. But what’s the best alternative for Baileys?
Carolan’s Irish Cream drinks employ a meticulous process to blend Irish whiskey with cream, resulting in its signature flavor and smoothness.
On the other hand, Baileys drinks use a patented process to ensure the perfect flavor fusion of cream and whiskey, setting it apart with its rich flavor and creamy texture.
Carolans drinks include honey, dairy creams, and other ingredients besides Irish whiskey, imparting a toffee and rustic-infused flavor experience.
Baileys drinks contain cocoa, vanilla extract, and dairy creams, creating a distinctively creamy and chocolatey flavor profile.
The whiskies used on both drinks are undisclosed, but rumor has it that Baileys uses Jameson whiskey while Carolans’ alcohol ingredient remains a mystery.
Both drinks boast exquisite, rich, and refined flavors. Baileys exudes distinct tasting notes that gradually unfold with each sip, including the taste of cream, cocoa, coffee, and sugar.
On the other hand, Carolans presents a harmonious blend where flavors like honey, cream, burnt sugar, and Irish whiskey meld into a unified taste profile.
While individual nuances shine in Baileys, Carolans presents a cohesive and vibrant flavor note, with its elements melding seamlessly into a single, delightful taste.
Appearance & Consistency
Baileys and Carolans share striking visual similarities, both in their bottle design and their contents. In fact, I could easily mistake the bottles for each other if not for the labels.
Both liqueurs  exhibit a medium-dark brown hue reminiscent of dark choco and coffee, exuding a lavish appearance.
The creaminess (like real cream) is unmistakable, imparting a mousse-like quality to both beverages.
I find their viscosity high, rendering them thick and luxuriously decadent (akin to pudding in consistency).
In essence, these liqueurs bear a remarkable resemblance not only in looks but also in their velvety richness.
Baileys is renowned for its role in cocktails, notably the White Russian and Black Russian .
While Baileys isn’t unsuitable for a dessert drink or spiking drinks, it tends to complement other spirits more effectively.
In contrast, the taste of Carolans finds greater favor in enhancing non-alcoholic beverages and desserts, like cakes.
This drink elevates hot chocolate, iced coffee, and pudding and can also be enjoyed neat over ice alongside a decadent dessert.
Read: Baileys vs Kahlua
Carolans and Baileys provide distinct taste experiences. Carolans enriches coffee with its toffee and rustic notes, creating a decadent and indulgent mix.
It’s well-suited for enhancing the coffee’s creaminess.
On the other hand, Bailey exudes a delightful fusion of tasty choco and coffee flavors, contributing to a rich and mocha-like experience.
Though both are an excellent mix for coffee, Carolans leans towards enhancing creaminess, while Baileys provides a more pronounced choco coffee twist.
Baileys Irish cream enjoys broader popularity with the general public, whereas Carolans has gained a strong following among whiskey connoisseurs.
Notably, Carolans entered the market after Baileys had already established itself as an almost unbeatable competitor in the Irish cream market.
“Baileys is the original and the most popular Irish cream liqueur worldwide.” – Peter Dige – Travel Retail Director
Nevertheless, Carolans’ popularity is rapidly growing, and the gap in recognition is narrowing.
Price-wise, Carolans is a more budget-friendly option at approximately $17 per 750ml, compared to Baileys, which typically costs around $29 for the same volume.
Packaging & Aesthetics
Carolans sports a classic and elegant bottle design, reflecting its commitment to tradition, while Baileys displays a distinctive, curvaceous bottle instantly recognizable on the shelf.
Which Irish cream is closest to Baileys?
The closest to Baileys could be The Whistler in terms of flavor profile. But many alternatives exist, including Hard Chaw, Saint Brendan’s, Five Arms, Coole Swan, etc.
Is Carolan’s Irish Cream good?
Absolutely! Carolan’s offers a delightful combination of toffee, rustic, and chocolatey that many find enjoyable.
What kind of alcohol is in Carolans?
The kind of liquor in Carolans is Irish whiskey, contributing to its smooth and inviting character. However, the specific alcohol brand is still a mystery.
After savoring both Carolans and Baileys, I prefer Baileys more than Carolans.
While both Irish creams are exceptional drinks, Baileys rich and indulgent chocolatey profile, combined with its iconic status, makes it the ultimate choice.
So, whether enjoying it over ice, in hot chocolate, or as a delectable dessert food topping, Baileys is the decadent delight that continues to stand the test of time.