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Flavored Whiskey? The Jury Is Out…For Me

Seems there is another big name getting into the flavored Whiskey business.  In September Evan Williams a Whiskey produced by Heaven Hill Distilleries will launch their version of a cherry flavored whiskey.  Evan Williams Cherry Reserve will be a 70 proof liqueur that will go head to head with Beam’s Red Stag for the flavored whiskey market.   This might be an interesting comparison because there are two distinct ways of flavoring the whiskey.  The Red Stag is flavored from the mash with real black cherries going into the mash bill that is then boiled and distilled.  Evan Williams on the other hand will add a cherry flavoring to their regular bourbon.

Flavoring bourbon is nothing new, in its simplest form it is simplly making a mixed drink.  This pre-flavored whiskey however is a little different in that it is flavored out of the bottle.  There has been a couple honey flavored whiskey liqueurs as well, the Wild Turkey American Honey and Segrams 7 Dark Honey liqueurs to name a couple.

I’m not sure how I feel about it.  I have only had the American Honey and it was far too sweet to go without additional mixing or simply using it as a maranade in cooking.  I think American Honey Glazed Pork Chops was suggested during our blogger event with Wild Turkey.  I personally thought it would make a nice glaze for salmon fillets.  I haven’t tried these two yet, but I suspect the same will be true.

What do you think?  Have Whiskey Makers gone too far with flavors?  Or is this just the kind of innovation that is needed in the industry today?  Give us your thoughts in the comments.

-Don

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13 Comments on “Flavored Whiskey? The Jury Is Out…For Me”

  1. PAUL
    August 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    I’m personally not a fan of the honeyed – much too sweet for me. I suspect that the mashed cherry with the Beam product will be better than the Williams with a syrup added, but I’ve not tried either of them. I do hear that the Cherry Beam is great with a cigar though. Regardless of my personal taste though, I’m glad these are on the market. More choices and more bourbon is good.

    • Don
      August 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

      I would agree that more choice is always preferred. I am a little split here though. I think I would much rather they put their efforts into making a mind bending new Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey than figuring out ways to increase their customer base through flavors. It is a double edged sword, because more customers mean more revenue, which means more whiskey development, but it also means higher demand and higher prices. So I’m a little split. I guess in the end it can only be a good thing bringing in more people who love good whiskey,

  2. August 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    I will probably never buy any flavored whiskey (cigar flavor? hmmm). I’m sure their reasoning is to attract the college girls and the boys with tramp stamps.

    • Don
      August 4, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

      I’m sure that is the hope is to expand their reach into the market, but I can’t help but think that there are other ways to do this, like advertise a lot more than they do.

  3. August 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    Far less knowledgeable about whiskey. But just adding flavor to one already made doesn’t seem legit. That seems like adding Hershey Syrup to a finished stout and calling it a chocolate stout. Now adding fruit to the mash I have less of an issue with. At least there is a certain level of craft in that. Still not sure I want to drink a cherry whiskey, though.

    • Don
      August 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

      I would agree whole heartedly with your assessment, however it will be good to do a compare and contrast because I can…now. I’m actually wondering which will taste better. My bias tells me like yours does that the stag will be better, but Those folks at Heaven Hill make some great whiskey, so I wouldn’t put it past them to make this well too.

    • August 5, 2010 at 10:38 am #

      Would agree here as well with the addition of faux flavor AFTER the fact. There’s a definite difference, at least with the flavored vodkas, rums, etc. out there, in whether they use real fruit during the process or fruit-flavored syrup after the process. My biggest gripe with this has always been with the fruit lambics, but I can’t imagine it would be different with bourbon. Fake is never better….with ANYTHING. Fake will crack you over the head, but real will affect you subtly. Fake will linger like aftertaste, and real will come and go. If done well, flavors should add only nuances to things that already have distinct flavor profiles (like bourbon). Flavoring the crap out of vodka is fine I guess, if you like vodka, because it’s flavorless to begin with….not bourbon.

      • Don
        August 5, 2010 at 10:50 am #

        Good points all, Katie. I tend to shy away from flavored stuff, especially cherry flavored (it tends to give me a sore throat). So I don’t have a basis of comparison. That said, I’m sure I will pick one up and do a throwdown. About time for one of those.

  4. Gabe
    January 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    For what it’s worth; I have now tried both products mentioned. I am no authority on Bourbon but I can say definitively that the Red Stag is FAR SUPERIOR. You can tell that the cherry flavor is included in the distillation. The other brand, on the other hand, tastes like bourbon with a cherry cough drop dissolved in it…

  5. Gator
    September 10, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    I can tell you that Fireball has become my drink of choice. It tastes like the atomic fireball candy from the 90s. Have you tried it Don?

    • Don
      September 10, 2011 at 1:07 am #

      Gator I have tried it. It reminds me of redhots. It was ok. I would drink it sometimes because it was 100 proof and it was very cheap, and tasted pretty good. I havent had it for a while like over a year, but I could never drink a lot of it. It would make me hella sick!

  6. matt
    December 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    I like the red stag… didn’t think I would. I drink it straight no ice. Great after a day of hunting. Interested in trying other flavored whiskeys. There is one new one called bird dog. i think it is black currant flavored.

  7. January 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Bird Dog is a really good whishey. Smooth and not to pricey. Somewhat hard to find.

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