Legendary Latvian digestive bitter, Riga Black Balsam, have also various lighter versions, which have been created over the years. Berry juices have been the manufacturer’s recommendation to dilute the original bitter, which might be too strong for most people. Black Balsam Currant was the first flavored and lighter version to be released in 2009. There is added blackcurrant juice to traditional Balsam and the alcohol volume has been dropped to 30%.. The liqueur is comprehensively available in all Baltic countries, a 50 cl bottle costs about 8 €.
The flavour is clearly lighter than in the original Balsam, but like said, it also has significantly lower alcohol level. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. The taste is very smooth and full-bodied. It has a strong blackcurrant aroma in the beginning, later mixed with herbs and fairly bitter nuances. The currant version has much the same compared to the original, but clearly less bitter. Blackcurrant fits really well into the palette, especially when it’s so clearly a leader here, and not just as an added spice. The taste of blackcurrant is also very natural and strong, like a juice concentrate had been added to the liqueur instead of just blackcurrant juice. The aftertaste is sweet and slightly bitter.
If the original is too bitter and strong, the blackcurrant version can be very well sipped neatly. It reminds more of the traditional herbal liqueurs. However, the bitterness is stronger than Jägermeister, for example. Diluted with a small amount of water, the taste of blackcurrant gets more space and it is very pleasant to sip. The manufacturer recommends enjoying Currant with ice or in various mixed drinks and hot drinks, for which it suits also very well. However, for those who love the original Balsam, the Currant version is clearly leaner and lacks a kick and strong medicinal bitterness.