What Is Butterscotch Schnapps?

A Guide to Buying and Drinking Butterscotch Schnapps

A rocks glass of butterscotch schnapps

The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Margot Cavin, Food Stylist: Kristin Stangl

Sweet liqueurs flavored with butterscotch, best known as butterscotch schnapps, are often made with a mixture of butter and brown sugar, though some use artificial flavors. Either way, they're designed to taste just like butterscotch caramels and used to create deliciously sweet cocktails and shots. Most butterscotch liqueurs are made in the U.S., Netherlands, and Australia, and those countries also consume the most of this liqueur.

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: Brown sugar, butter
  • Proof: 30–42
  • ABV: 15–21%
  • Calories in a shot: 72
  • Origin: U.S., Australia, Netherlands
  • Taste: Sweet caramel, butterscotch
  • Serve: Straight, on the rocks, cocktails, shots

What Is Butterscotch Schnapps Made From?

A butterscotch liqueur is made by mixing butter and brown sugar with a neutral base spirit. Some, however, will use a butterscotch extract for flavoring and add a sweetener to the liquor; these ingredients may be natural or artificial. Though each brand uses a different method, some butterscotch liqueurs have a rich gold color due to either natural or artificial coloring agents. On the other hand, some butterscotch schnapps is clear in color. This is truer to a traditional German schnaps, which ranges in flavors from fruits like peach to cool peppermint. In this particular flavor, there is no noticeable difference between schnapps and liqueur and brands will use the two labels interchangeably.

Most butterscotch liqueurs are 15 percent to 21 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 30 to 42 proof), though you will find some that are stronger. For instance, 99 Butterscotch Schnapps is 99 proof.

It's also rather easy to make your own butterscotch schnapps using a brandy or vodka base. This can be done by using butter, brown sugar, and light corn syrup to make a caramel sauce, letting that cool, then adding it to a bottle of liquor. Some recipes add glycerine for smoothness and vanilla extract for extra flavor.

An easier option is to create a brown sugar syrup (about 1 cup), then add that along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of butterscotch extract to 1 1/2 cups of liquor. These proportions can be scaled up for a full bottle of liquor (750ml or just over 3 cups) and adjusted to taste. However, due to the increased volume, it won't fit in a standard bottle.

What Does Butterscotch Schnapps Taste Like?

As you might expect, butterscotch liqueurs taste like butterscotch sauce or candy. It's typically very sweet but the combined flavor of butter and brown sugar makes it quite delicious.

How to Drink Butterscotch Schnapps

Butterscotch schnapps can be enjoyed on its own. Sip it straight, chill the bottle first, or pour it over ice for a sweet and simple dessert-like drink. It's also used to create some pretty tasty drinks. From fancy martini-like cocktails to party shots, there's a butterscotch drink for any occasion. It's a perfect companion for hot drinks, too. Pour a shot into your coffee, hot cocoa, or hot apple cider to give it a boozy, caramel twist.

Shooters are among the most popular uses for butterscotch liqueurs and they're often a highlight in layered shooters. Since it has such a high concentration of sugar, it's often one of the heaviest ingredients and will almost always comprise the bottom layer.

Cocktail Recipes

When you come across cocktails recipes that include the word "caramel," it's very likely that butterscotch schnapps is involved. It's often mixed with apple, cinnamon, and cream liquors.

Popular Brands

The most common butterscotch liqueur is DeKuyper Buttershots, a clear schnapps. Due to its popularity, the word "buttershots" is often used to describe any butterscotch-flavored liqueur. You'll find it worth your while to explore other butterscotch liqueurs as you find them. Most are rather inexpensive and some of the higher quality brands offer a more refined taste that's better suited to fancier drinks, drinking straight, and drizzling over desserts.

  • 99 Butterscotch Schnapps
  • Arrow Butterscotch Schnapps
  • Bols Butterscotch Schnapps
  • DeKuyper Buttershots
  • Dr. McGillicuddy's Intense Butterscotch
  • Hiram Walker Butterscotch Schnapps
  • Mr. Boston Butterscotch Schnapps

Cooking With Butterscotch Schnapps

This sweet liqueur is ideal for dressing up desserts. It can form the base for sweet sauces to top fruits, cakes, pies, and other sweets. You can also use it to spike pudding or simply drizzle the liqueur over ice cream instead of regular butterscotch sauce.