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Carolans Irish Cream vs Baileys: Cream Liqueur Clash (2024)

Carolans Irish Cream vs Baileys

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 Irish Cream and Baileys on a Wooden Table

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

AspectCarolans Irish CreamBaileys Irish Cream
TypeCream LiqueurCream Liqueur
Base AlcoholIrish WhiskeyIrish Whiskey
Flavor ProfileToffee, Vanilla, ChocolateChocolate, Coffee, Creamy
Sweetness LevelModerately SweetModerately Sweet
Alcohol Content17% ABV17% ABV
Notable CocktailsCarolans Iced Coffee, Carolans ColadaBaileys Irish Coffee, Baileys Martini
VarietiesCarolans Salted Caramel, Carolans OriginalBaileys Original, Baileys Almande
Price RangeAround $17/750mlAround $29/750ml 
Market PresenceGlobalGlobal
Star Rating★★★★☆★★★★★

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?

Production Process

Man Holding Bottle of Baileys Original Irish Cream

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 [1] 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 [2].

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

Coffee Pairing

Man Drinking Carolan's Irish Cream Liqueur

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.

Can you describe the flavor differences between Carolans Irish Cream and Baileys?

Carolans Irish Cream tends to have a lighter and smoother taste with noticeable notes of Irish whiskey. In contrast, Baileys has a creamier and sweeter profile, often described as having flavors reminiscent of chocolate, vanilla, and coffee.

Which situations or recipes are best suited for Carolans Irish Cream versus Baileys?

Carolans Irish Cream is often preferred in cocktails or mixed drinks where the flavor of Irish whiskey shines through, while Baileys is popular for adding a creamy, indulgent touch to coffee, desserts, or enjoyed on its own over ice.

How do the price points of Carolans Irish Cream and Baileys compare?

Generally, Carolans Irish Cream tends to be slightly less expensive than Baileys, making it a budget-friendly option for those seeking an Irish cream liqueur without compromising on quality.

Are there any significant differences in the alcohol content between Carolans Irish Cream and Baileys?

Both Carolans Irish Cream and Baileys typically have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 17%, although this can vary slightly between different versions or brands. It’s essential to check the label for the specific ABV of the product you’re purchasing.

In Summary

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.


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