Cocktails with… Ballantine’s Brasil

As I left the house this morning, a definite chill lifted the hairs on the back of my neck. As I scrambled around in my pockets for my gloves, I pondered where the recent hint of spring had gone. Well, one product that certainly calls for warmer climes is Ballantine’s Brasil.

Ballantines Brazil BOTTLE

Inspired by George Ballantine’s love of blending whisky, the company wanted to make a spirit designed to be used in mixed drinks. After some initial experimentation, further inspiration came from Brasil, where drinkers regularly drink their whisky with lime.

Brasil starts life as a specially designed Ballantine’s whisky, which is then flavoured in the cask with Brasilian lime peels, before being combined with some vanilla extract (the real thing, none of that artificial flavouring), and just a dash of sugar syrup. The combination of strong flavours and its destined use for mixing means that Brasil is bottled at 35% ABV, making it a “spirit drink” or flavoured whisky, akin to those produced by a variety of American whiskey companies, like Jim Beam’s Black Cherry.

The rather lovely Ballantine Brazil press pack - note the sugar cane shaped glass and the pocket for the lime.

The rather lovely Ballantine Brasil press pack – note the sugar cane shaped glass and the pocket for the lime.

On its own
Somewhat intrigued by the use of natural flavourings throughout, I did sample some of the spirit on its own. The lime and vanilla come through, fresh and bold, on the nose, reminding me a little of a Whisky Ginger with a lime wedge. The same flavours came through on the palate; the citrus making for a very “bright” flavour, and the vanilla neatly balancing it out. The finish was refreshingly tart and dry.

Highland Samba
[50ml Ballantine's Brasil, 150ml lemonade (or lemon-lime soda) - pour into a long glass with ice - garnish with a lime wedge.]
A delightfully simple drink to make, but one that allows you to enjoy the spirit in a long, thirst-quenching drink. The lemon flavours of the soda work well with the lime tang of the spirit, as well as the fresh lime garnish. Whisky and lemonade may not be a usual combination, but, in this case it really works. On the finish there are some light spice notes, including cinnamon and vanilla, which sign the flavours off nicely and adds a pleasant and unexpected complexity.

Highland Samba

Highland Samba

In a similar style to the above drink, this also works well with Champagne Ginger Ale (e.g. Canada Dry or Fevertree), providing a lighter and more accessible version of the Whisky Ginger. Even without a fruit garnish, the lime sings through.

Glen Rio
[50ml Ballantine's Brasil, 150ml Apple Juice - pour into a long glass with ice - garnish with apple slices]
A smooth drink with tart apple upfront and then the warmth of the spirit, as well as some spicy woodiness, then vanilla and lime. I think this is improved with a dash of bitters (Angostura is fine). It also has some potential for a toddy-like hot drink, which would work well with a cinnamon stick garnish.

Flower O’Brasil
[50ml Ballantine's Brasil, 25ml Elderflower Cordial, Squeeze of one lime wedge - STIR]
Lime and vanilla are, again, centre-stage in this cocktail, but it’s initially a little sweeter than some of the other drinks. About halfway through, the floral notes from the cordial really make themselves known; the sweetness also tones down a tad, before a lovely, dry finish of elderflower. This could easily have been dominated by any of its flavours, but it’s perfectly balanced – a brilliantly engineered cocktail.

Ballantines Brazil FRUITCUP

Ballantine’s Brasil Fruit Cup

Ballantine Brasil Fruit Cup
[50ml Ballantine’s Brasil, 30ml Red Vermouth, 10ml Orange Liqueur]
A tasty and refreshing drink. The vermouth adds a pleasant, herbal complexity, whilst still allowing the underlying flavours of the Ballantine’s to come through. The fresh lime adds a nice, tart finish, creating a very refreshing drink.

Girl from Ipanema
[50ml Ballantine’s Brasil, 25ml Red Vermouth, Orange Bitters - SHAKE ]
Another simple drink inspired by the classic Brasilian cocktail Rabo de Galo (although this uses cachaca and red vermouth), but despite the simple recipe, the result is a drink that is full of a whole array of flavours: some woody spice, the tart lime that goes well with the bitter herbs of the vermouth and then some sweetness, too. The orange bitters add depth and stop it from being too confectionery.

Girl from Ipanema

Girl from Ipanema

In Conclusion
Brasil isn’t a whisky and isn’t designed to be drunk like one; it’s a refreshing cocktail ingredient, made using natural ingredients and just the right amount of sugar. It makes a whole array of tasty concoctions, which all seem to taste like more than the sum of their parts. It should maybe be avoided if you don’t like lime or vanilla, but otherwise, I’d recommend giving it a try – it feels more like sunshine’s just around the corner with one of these cocktails in your hand! My personal favourite was the Flower O’Brasil.

- Mrs. B.

Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select

JackDanielsSinatraSelectTitle

JackDanielsSinatraSelect

There is much evidence that Frank Sinatra enjoyed Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. In tribute to the charismatic entertainer, the folks at Jack Daniel Distillery decided to make a special bottling of the singer’s favourite tipple. The legend goes that he was even buried with a bottle of Jack.

Sinatra Select is essentially the classic Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whisky, only bottled at 45% ABV (or 90 proof) rather than 40% ABV – the higher proof that the whiskey would have been at when Frank was drinking it pre-1987. It was also aged in “Sinatra Barrels”, which were handcrafted especially and had a series of deep grooves on the inside, resulting in greater surface area for the whiskey to come into contact with.

It comes in a special box, incorporating neat elements of Sinatra’s persona: the fedora icon and the use of orange, which was said to be Frank’s favourite colour (and is also particularly striking alongside the black of the label and rich, amber-gold of the spirit). There’s also a booklet giving a bit of history on Sinatra and the whiskey. But what does it taste like?

Jack Daniels Sinatra Special edition 45%

Jack Daniels Sinatra Select at the Savoy (note the Special Savoy Silver Select; more on that next time)

Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select (45% ABV)

Nose: Soft, warm spice, like cinnamon mixed with the sweetness of chocolate. Hints of unripe banana and caramel, wrapped up with creamy vanilla. Young wood that’s been sitting around for a little while and has got a bit dusty; reminiscent of barrel houses. Finally, there’s a slight, bright note at the end of peppermint cream.

Taste: A particularly short flavour profile that starts out with genuine caramel flavour that turns into more of a toffee note, before more bitter, woody notes. There’s a prominent, very distinctive note of musky wood that dominates the middle of the palate. On top, there are notes of liquorice, dark chocolate, and a bitter, organic stalkiness.

Finish: Unripe banana and creamy vanilla, with a pleasant warmth, before slightly bitter liquorice root and light tannins.

In Conclusion

This is, by far, my favourite variety of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. It works incredibly well neat in a glass, with a bold, interesting flavour that’s full of confectionery notes that are neatly rounded off with a dry, lightly bitter finish and a very pleasant warmth. Given the limited supply available and higher-than-usual price tag (currently around £150 for a litre at The Whisky Exchange), it might not be for everyone, but if you get the chance to give it a try, even if you’re not into the sentiment around the tribute, I’d highly recommend it.

- Mrs. B.

For more Jack Daniels Hi-jinx check out our big Jack daniels Tasting –  Mrs. B Meets Jack Daniels, The White Rabbit Saloon and our upcoming article on Jack Daniels, Sinatra and The Savoy.

Jim Beam Maple and Jim Beam Hardcore Cider

As the nights draw in, my mind turns to the comforting and warming drinks and liqueurs that I can pour to stay cosy in the evenings. Whisky liqueurs are typically a good choice for this sort of thing, so I was pleased to receive two samples of Jim Beam’s latest offerings from our friend, Seva, in NJ.

Jim Beam already have a cavalcade of whiskey liqueurs and flavoured whiskies, such as Red Stag Black Cherry, Red Stag Honey Tea, Jim Beam Honey, and Jim Beam Winter Punch.
Jim Beam Maple Bottle Flavored WhiskyJim Beam Maple (35% ABV)

The first sample to try today is Jim Beam Maple, a bourbon that has been infused with natural flavours and is bottled at 35% ABV.

Nose: Initially, a powerful burst of thick, sticky maple syrup, followed by darker notes of molasses, dark rum, a little Pedro Ximenez and sweet coffee. Finally, there are some liquorice at the end.
Taste: A lovely, strong smooth flavour of genuine maple syrup. Very sweet without being heavy or sticky in texture. This is reminiscent of American style pancakes and syrup, backed up by vanilla and dark caramel. The mouthfeel is of a bourbon, but the flavour is really dominated by the rich, sappy maple. The same flavour continues on the finish, only with less of the sweetness, which means that it is lasting, but not cloying.

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Jim Bam Red Stag Hardcore Cider BottleJim Beam Red Stag Hardcore Cider (40% ABV)

Our second flavoured bourbon is Hardcore Cider, which is infused with cider and natural flavours. It joins the previous Red Stag varieties of Black Cherry, Spiced and Honey Tea.

Nose: Another strong nose, this time of very sweet apple, like Applejack sweets here in the UK (the apple variety of Fruit Salad or Blackjack chewy sweets). It’s vibrant, but rather artificial in its sugary sweetness, although after a while you can also pick up notes of pear and vanilla.
Taste: Silky smooth in texture, almost syrupy, but not as heavy. The initial flavour is very sweet and a tad richer than expected, with confectionery notes of apple, vanilla and hints of other fruits like banana and papaya. The finish is lightly warming and sweet, mainly consisting of vanilla and sweet apple.
In Conclusion

Once again, Jim Beam have produced two very flavourful varieties of their bourbon, each with very distinctive flavour profiles. The Maple was easily my favourite, with a rich, genuine flavour that fits in perfectly next to Jim Beam’s other varieties. I think it will work particularly well in warming, seasonal drinks and am eager to try it in a toddy; I’ll report back on how this goes shortly.

I think the Red Stag Hardcore Cider works less well, especially on its own, where it seems less “hardcore” and more like an apple liqueur. Then again, maybe I am biased because of the dry cider that DT favours! That said, I’m sure that it, too, could be used well in mixed drinks like toddies, especially alongside an extra drop or two of bourbon and some bitters to balance out some of the sweetness.

Well, if I wasn’t craving a toddy before, I am now…

- Mrs. B.

Follow Jim Beam on Twitter @jimbeamuk

Your chance to visit the Jim Beam Stillhouse – in London!

On 21 and 22 November 2013, Jim Beam will transport bourbon-loving Londoners over the rolling hills of Kentucky and into the world-class Jim Beam Stillhouse which will stand, for two nights only, in The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, London.

Visitors will then travel through tunnels deep into the Stillhouse for an intriguing glimpse into the Distillation and Ageing Room, bringing them closer to the bourbon-making process. Immersive theatre will bring to life the unique proprietary process used to create Jim Beam’s most intense member of the family, Devil’s Cut, whilst guests revel in a taste of the extraordinary new bourbon.A flavour explosion awaits in The Mixology Room where bartenders will serve up a playful cocktail experience. Here guests can enjoy the infused flavours of Red Stag by Jim Beam and Jim Beam Honey.

The journey will culminate with the unique opportunity for guests to make their mark on Jim Beam’s history, before being brought back out onto the bustling streets of Shoreditch, by signing their name on an authentic American oak barrel, which will be taken back to the distillery in Kentucky, filled and aged. All Stillhouse attendees will then receive a bottle of Jim Beam White from the special barrel four years later.

 The price of tickets is £5 (plus booking fee) and spaces are limited. Available through Eventbrite

When: Thursday 21 November, from 6pm – 10pm
Friday 22 November, from 6pm – 10pm

Where: The Boiler House at the Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL

Bookings: Book your time session at https://jimbeamstillhouse.eventbrite.com

Baileys Chocolat Luxe

Baileys have released a number of flavoured editions over the years, the most recent being the delicious Orange Truffle, but this month sees the release of a particularly special one: Baileys Chocolat Luxe. Made with real Belgian chocolate and lots of hard work by Anthony Wilson, the son of Steve Wilson, who came up with the formulation for the Original Baileys, this version takes a step into the luxury liqueur market.

Bottled at 15.7% ABV (Original Baileys is 17% ABV), Chocolat Luxe contains over 30g of real Belgian milk chocolate per bottle, in addition to Madagascan vanilla, caramel and Irish cream. It’s worth noting, though, that this isn’t just another flavour variant of the popular cream liqueur; rather, it was created to be a “molten chocolate experience”. So let’s have a taste and see how it fares.

BaileysChocolateLuxeBottle

Tasting notes (served straight from the fridge)

Pour: Firstly, I think it’s worth noting that this even pours luxuriously. It seems more viscous than the Original Baileys, pooling almost seductively in the bottom of the glass. I don’t normally take much notice of such things, but I did with this one.

Nose: This smells exactly how I expected it to: rich, Belgian chocolate, cream, and creamy caramel. I’m particularly reminded of expensive Belgian chocolates with a soft caramel centre, or the filling of a chocolate tart. This could have been a really sickly smell, but there’s just a hint of bitterness that stops that from happening, somewhat reminiscent of dark chocolate or salted caramel.

Taste: This has a luxuriously thick texture. After a second or two, there’s then a creamy note of Belgian chocolate and a burst of caramel sweetness. The familiar, creamy notes of Baileys with a hint of vanilla then kick in, before the chocolate returns to the forefront. Hints of dark chocolate again appear around the edges, just ensuring that it isn’t too sweet or one-dimensional. I’m also reminded of the creamy, strawberry notes that I get from some poteen (like Knockeen Hills).

Finish: Lovely, Belgian chocolate and double cream. Despite the thick texture, it’s not sickly or cloying, but still has a weightiness to it – quite a fine line to walk, but all of that experimentation during the development stages has obviously paid off!

With Coffee
When you have something as intriguing and complex as this liqueur, mixing it can be a bit tricky; you could easily lose some of the character and texture of the product. As such, we simply opted to try a dollop in an Espresso, a sort of short Mocha, if you will.

The result is an absolutely scrumptious liqueur coffee. The creaminess of the liqueur comes through, along with some of the Belgian chocolate notes, softening the bitterness of the coffee without covering it up with sweetness. The combination of chocolate and coffee reminds me even more of dark chocolate. Indeed, even DTS (who always drinks his coffee in Espresso form without even the suggestion of milk) happily finished off this drink.

In Conclusion
My views of the flavoured editions of Baileys are mixed, but I think they’ve chosen the right route to go down with this product, setting it apart from both the others in the range and any other cream liqueur that I’ve tasted. It’s really very masterfully done: it has delicious, genuine notes of Belgian chocolate and caramel, and the texture is the perfect combination of weighty cream and smoothness. Particularly when served straight from the fridge, this could easily replace a dessert. Needless to say, if you like Baileys and chocolate, I’d recommend giving this a try. A lot of time and effort went into creating Bailey’s Chocolat Luxe* and, in my mind, it was certainly worth it.
– Mrs. B.

Baileys Chocolat Luxe is currently available from Harvey Nichols at £16.99 for 50cl.

*Over 200 varieties of chocolate were tasted and the final formula was the 840th tried.

Glen Garioch Competition

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Are you available from 19th-20th June? Do you like Scotch whisky? If answers to both questions are yes, then you might want to have a look at a competition being held on Facebook by Glen Garioch focused around “rare finds”.

By answering a simple multiple-choice question on their Facebook page (the answer to which can be found on their website), you could win a two-day, expenses-paid trip to their distillery in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In addition to a special VIP tour of the 200-year-old distillery, the winner will also be treated to a private whisky tasting with Glen Garioch’s master blender, Rachel Barrie (who readers may recognise from our posts on Bowmore). As if that wasn’t enough, the winner will also get to stay overnight in a four star hotel, and go salmon fishing and panning for gold at a secret location (looking for other local “rare finds”)!

And even if you aren’t lucky enough to get this main prize, you may be one of the lucky runners up, who will receive a Limited Edition bottle of Small Batch Glen Garioch.

If any of this sounds like it’s your cup of tea, then head over to their Facebook page and enter the competition before 23:59 on Monday 3rd June (where you can also find the terms & conditions). Good luck, everybody!

- Mrs. B.

Cocktails with… Courvoisier VSOP

Back in August of last year, I experienced my first Cognac tasting. Today, I want to take a look at Courvoisier VSOP. This is the next step up from their VS, which I tried last time, and is a blend of Cognacs between four and ten years old. In addition, the term “Fine Champagne” on the bottle indicates that at least half of the crus used to make it are from the Grande Champagne region specifically.

The label is decked out in a rather fine, decadent blue, and may be familiar to some as the bottle proudly presented on the desk of Ralph Fiennes’ character, Mallory, in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. He and M discuss weighty matters over a glass; and, given how much I enjoyed M’s whisky choices from that film, I’m looking forward to trying this.

Courvoisier VSOP Cognac

On its own
Nose: Vibrant, sharp grape to start, like a very good, dry sherry, but, after a while, this softens. Additional notes of caramelised apple, like a sticky, freshly-made toffee apple, then come into play.
Taste: Smooth, but full of flavour, with dry grape at the start quickly opening up with lots of lighter floral notes, reminding me of summer days in the garden; hints of rose, with a slight leafiness and the subtle sweetness of apricot jam. A light finish of white wine, dried apricots and vanilla. A light, pleasant warmth on the finish.

Sidecar
Rich and complex start, with lots of apricot and white grape, but mixed in with a richness that you’d get from red grape,  raspberries and blackberries. A more complex, warming finish, with vanilla, oak and a fresh note of sherbety lemon that lifts the drink.

Sazerac
Lovely, inescapable sweet anise notes on the nose. Pleasantly not too sweet to taste, though, with a far more subtle note of soft liquorice to start, followed by a measured, but surprisingly flavourful interplay between the notes of the anise and rich, sweet fruit. Quite short overall, but an intense drink; perfect for mid-evening.

In Conclusion
Without a doubt, Courvoisier VSOP is currently my favourite Cognac. I love the combination of the subtlety of the start and the rich, but measured fruit notes afterwards (especially the apricot on the finish – lovely!). I  was also impressed at how it worked in cocktails, in particular the Sazerac. I think my favourite way to drink it is on it’s own, though; this may just be the Cognac that persuades me to drink it on a regular basis!
– Mrs. B.

Caskstrength and Carry On (Cutty Sark)- A Review

Earlier on in the month, DTS & I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. This is, traditionally, the year for gifts along the theme of wood. We knew that finding one another gifts wouldn’t be a problem; as a matter of fact, my sole concern was that we would accidentally buy one another the exact same present, but, fortunately for me, DTS took the theme a little less literally than I did, focusing on gifts that had been aged in wood.

WhiskyGifts

Ah, he knows me so well. A bottle of whisky and a book about whisky. Excellent! Both are additionally a bit special in that they’re collaborative works by our good friend, Neil Ridley.

The book, written by Neil and Gavin D. Smith, is a superb introduction to all forms of whisky and I highly recommend it if you’ve not got a copy already. There are some nifty diagrams of distilleries and an excellent telling of the story of the spirit. I loved the tone and message of the book, which encourages others to try, explore and share whisky; exactly what it’s there for!

But onto the whisky part of my present: a special edition of Cutty Sark Whisky produced by Neil and Joel of Caskstrength.com as a part of their enviable endeavour to produce an ‘A to Z’ of whisky bottlings (the ‘C’, obviously). Overseen by Cutty Sark Master Blender Kirsteen Campbell, they blended this whisky in time to release to coincide with the brand’s 90th anniversary and is, appropriately, 90 proof, or 51.4% ABV.

CuttySarkCaskStrength

On its own
Nose: Lemon shortbread, fading towards a light, non-peaty smoke. An interesting combination of bright citrus notes and heavy butter to start, with hints of oat biscuits and that light smoke towards the end.
Taste: Incredibly buttery to start: rich and ever so slightly oily, with notes of dry oatcake, vanilla, and oak. The finish is clean and light, despite the alcoholic strength coming through with some some substantial warmth, and has a subtle, woody dryness to it. Hints of banoffee at the very end.

Rob Roy
The vanilla, lemon and richness of the whisky combine perfectly with the spice and fresh tartness of the vermouth to produce a smooth, tasty drink with all of these flavours and a pleasantly lingering finish of walnut, hazelnut and creamy milk chocolate. Delicious!

Old Fashioned
Warming and, again, slightly spicy, with a distinct note of banana and toffee on the nose. There’s vanilla and light wood to start, followed by rich citrus (think lemon curd, rather than juice), and a strong finish of salted toffee or caramel with an oily nuttiness and intriguing hint of spicy celery.

Whisky Ginger
A very smooth, almost creamy, start with more vanilla than ginger, followed by an intriguingly dry and creamy finish that is quite short, with hints of sharp, but creamy lemon (again, think lemon curd).

In Conclusion
All-in-all, this is an interesting, rich and flavourful whisky. Straight, it was a little too confectionery and heavy on the citrus for me, but it really comes into its own in cocktails. The Whisky Ginger was different in the strength of its creamy, vanilla notes and both the Rob Roy and the Old Fashioned were delightful, harmonious combinations of vanilla, spice and lemon. The clear favourite for me, though, was the Rob Roy.

- Mrs. B.

Caskstrength and Carry On (Cutty Sark) is available for around £35 for 70cl from Master of Malt

Cocktails with Johnnie Walker Spice Road – The Travel Retail Exclusive Blend

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Following the introduction of the new Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve and Platinum whiskies, Johnnie Walker have a new collection of whiskies to unveil: The Explorer’s Club Collection. Inspired by the historic expeditions of the Walker family, the collection combines the exclusive and exotic nature of international travel in centuries past with characteristics of particular travels. The first series in the collection is ‘The Trade Route’, which consists of three whiskies: The Spice Road, The Gold Route and The Royal Route.

The first to be released, The Spice Road, was very kindly brought home from a trip to Kentucky by DTS (it’s currently a travel exclusive, only available in Duty Free shops). It’s inspired by the thriving markets of Asia and comes in a lovely, slightly understated box.

JW SpiceRoute Bottle

On its own
Nose: Warm and rich: the heavy, sweet fruit of fruit cake and brandy, before a gradual transformation to a lighter, savoury spice, more akin to mild chilli and black pepper, and the freshness of lime. A hint of charred-wood smokiness at the end.
Taste: At the beginning there’s a sweet woodiness that has a dough-like quality to it. This quickly develops into a smooth, but seemingly playful spiciness – a combination of chilli, pepper and ginger – that lasts on the finish, giving it a warm and interesting texture that’s long, but not at all heavy. The end of the finish is warm, dry and ever-so-slightly bitter, reminding me of bark.

Whisky Ginger
Intriguing – oddly sweet for a majority, before transforming to a savoury finish. There’s a subtle, creamy vanilla note throughout. Unlike some other Whisky Gingers, where the ginger ale and whisky flavours are quite separate – you get the sweet ginger and then the whisky quite distinctly at the end – the two integrate particularly well in this drink; maybe its the ginger in both? Regardless, it’s lovely.

Rob Roy
Savoury and sweet at the same time – the dryness of the whisky and the rich fruitiness of the vermouth seem to be expertly combined. Rich, red wine to start, followed by the distinctive, dry spiciness of the Spice Road. The vermouth highlights more wintery spices in the whisky, like cinnamon and cloves. This has an excellent, interesting flavour profile, whilst remaining smooth and refreshing.

In Conclusion
This whisky really does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s full of colourful, spicy flavours, combined with a brilliant smoothness and freshness. Although it doesn’t have the weight and comforting smokiness of the Black or Double Black Labels, it’s unique character, along with the concept behind the series, makes it definitely worth a try.

- Mrs. B.

Johnnie Walker Spice Route is available from World Duty Free for around £30 for a litre.

SpiceRouteBox

 

WOW 35 – Jim Beam Hot Punch Whiskey

WOW34 Title

JimBeamHotPunchBottle

This week it’s been rather chilly in the UK, certainly for the end of February, and so it seems appropriate that, as the Siberian winds swirl, I let you know of another way to keep warm: the whiskey way; namely, Jim Beam Hot Punch. Anyone who’s popped down to see the guys at The Whisky Exchange at London Bridge will probably have noticed their display of white-labelled bottles from a famous Lynchburg distillery (Jack Daniels Winter Punch), so it’s little surprise that this equally unusual bottle came from the same source.

We reviewed Jack Daniels Winter Punch here and it has been a firm favourite with various friends and family ever since. Jim Beam Hot Punch appears to be in a similar vein; both are bottled at 15%ABV and both appear to be made for the German market.

Here is the sidebar from Jim Beam Hot Punch:

JimBeamHotPunch Sidebar

The Taste

Cold
Nose: Whoa! I was not expecting that. Sugary notes of peach, pineapple and strawberry, all combined with a bubblegum-esque flavour and creamy, vanilla undertones. Without a doubt, this reminds me strongly of gummy/foam ice-cream cone sweets.
Taste: Smooth and very easy to sip. There’s a burst of sweet fruitiness to start that then dries out, but the vanilla and gummy/gelatine flavour remains. A tiny hint of warmth appears at the back of the throat, but nothing major (it’s only 15%ABV after all). The main flavours are, like on the nose, pineapple, peach, apricot, strawberry and apple. Despite this, it’s not overly sugary, but it definitely has a confectionery flavour to it that I didn’t expect.

JimBeamHotPunch HOT

Warm
Nose: The same gummy-ice-cream-sweet flavour, with notes of vanilla and fruit, only slightly more sickly than when served cold (mainly via the vapours).
Taste: More potent than the cold version. The sweet flavours transform into a fruity, tart flavour that’s almost sour, like gooseberries, or cooked fruit – pears or apples – with vanilla and a tiny hint of cinnamon. This serve is obviously much more warming, too.

In Conclusion
All-in-all, I thought this was a little odd. The broad sweep of sweet, fruit flavours reminded me more of summer than winter (in contrast to the packaging and concept) and, unlike the Winter Jack, it doesn’t have any seasonal, spicy notes. Additionally, unlike the Jim Beam Red Stag flavoured Bourbons, I couldn’t really get any whiskey notes after all of the fruitiness. Despite this, I’m sure many people will enjoy it; just not if they’re after a whiskey!

- Mrs. B.

Jim Beam Hot Punch is available in the UK but The Whisky exchange seems to be the only place that stock it. It is available online at £15 for 70cl.

For other sweet Jim Beam treats, why not check out our reviews of Jim Beam Honey or Cherry Red Stag and, if you happen to be in the US, the Red Stag Spice or Red Stag Honey Tea may be of interest.

WOW33 – Bushmills Irish Honey – A Review

WOW33

The trend for whisk(e)y liqueurs and flavoured whisk(e)y shows no sign of abetting, but whereas it’s typically the whiskey producers of the US who are innovating in this field, today’s focus is on one from Ireland: Bushmills Irish Honey.

It is worth noting that this is described as a “Spirit Drink“ and not a whiskey liqueur; this is because it has less sugar in it than a liqueur. It’s a blend of Bushmills whiskey, Irish honey and other natural flavours, and is bottled at 35%ABV.

BushmillsIrishHoneyBottle

On its own
Nose: Rather bourbon-esque and not too heavy or overly honeyed. Light wood and grain notes are balanced by a comforting, but subtle level of sweetness. I get hints of malt, too.
Taste: Very smooth, but by no means sweet, this is inoffensive and easy to drink. The flavours are straightforward: sweet grain and malt, with odd hints of floral honey scattered throughout. The finish is lightly dry, with subtle notes of grain.

Irish Coffee
[One Shot of Hot Espresso, 25ml Bushmills Honey, Layer Cream on Top]
A malty nose with hints of honey backs up a decidedly non-sweet Irish Coffee. What’s great about this as an Irish Coffee is that you could easily tweak the sweetness level to your own personal preference, rather than be stuck with a sickly drink. The woody notes and warmth from the spirit come through initially, followed by the coffee and then a dry, creamy finish (I’d also like to try this with a spoonful of brown sugar).

In Conclusion
This is a smooth and accessible drink, especially when sipped neat, but neither the honey, nor the whiskey notes are particularly strong. If you’re after something less subtle, you might be better with one of the honey flavoured bourbons (e.g. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jim Beam Honey, or Evan Williams Honey Reserve Liqueur). However, if you find the whiskey liqueurs too sweet, or just want to experiment with cocktails using a honeyed whiskey where you can better control the sweetness, Bushmills Irish Honey could be worth a try.

- Mrs. B.