Thursday, August 5, 2010
Whiskey Heresy: Flavored Whiskeys
I didn't post this as part of my Whiskey Wednesday series because, as noted in the title, flavored whiskeys are whiskey heresy, but on Friday, anything goes. We've suffered through inanely flavored vodkas and rums for a few decades now, but flavored whiskey and whiskey liqueurs are just starting to proliferate. Sure there are some that have been around forever, like Southern Comfort (though I don't know that it has actual whiskey in it anymore), Bailey's and Drambuie, but recently the floodgates seem to have opened wide to new, sweet whiskey products.
The highest profile new flavored whiskey is Jim Beam's Red Stag, a Black Cherry flavored Bourbon. Wild Turkey American Honey is a liqueur made with honey and Bourbon which has been around for a few years now. I grabbed minis of both to do a tasting. Obviously, these things are not meant for whiskey geeks like me, so I'm going to do my best to judge them for what they are, sweet drinks probably meant for cocktails.
Red Stag by Jim Beam, Black Cherry flavored Bourbon, 40% abv ($14-18)
The nose on this is very light, smelling only faintly of cherries. Egads, it's insanely sweet! It's actually not bad though. I was expecting it to taste like cough syrup but the cherry flavor is more reserved than that; more like a cherry soda flavor. The sweetness makes it difficult to take straight, but on the rocks with soda, it would probably make a refreshing drink, like an alcoholic cherry soda.
Wild Turkey American Honey, liqueur with Bourbon and honey, 35.5% abv ($20-23)
The nose on this is really nice. It's got lots of floral and herbal qualities along with a good dose of lemon. Lemon is the predominant flavor, which I didn't expect. Surprisingly, it doesn't really have much of a honey flavor. While it's very sweet, the sweetness isn't quite as cloying as it is in the Red Stag. For this one, I would think there would be lots of good cocktail uses. It has a more complex flavor profile than the Stag and is generally more interesting to drink.
Now, that wasn't so bad, was it. I'm not going to rush out and buy this stuff but it's not bad as far as liqueurs go.