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.

Evan Williams Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur

This week saw the annual Distill Spirits Show in London and, as ever, a highlight of the show was the Eaux de Vie stand, where you can always find a plethora of vodkas, gins, whiskies, rums (we tried some excellent ones from Eaux de Vie’s own Mezan range), liqueurs and a host of other drinks.

One item that quickly caught my eye, however, was a new product from Heaven Hill. Followers of Whispers of Whisk(e)y may recall that we have previously reviewed two of the other Evan Williams branded whisky liqueurs: their honey and cherry varieties.

The new variety builds on the success and popularity of these previous liqueurs and comes at a time when more and more American liqueurs are arriving on the market, with Jim Beam Honey having just launched and Jack Daniels Honey imminently about to hit UK shelves. We were fortunate enough to be able to try a sample of the first bottle to land in the UK. What was this new flavour?

Evan Williams Cinnamon is a mix of extra-aged Evan Williams Bourbon with natural, hot cinnamon flavour and is bottled at 35% ABV. Given the popularity of fiery, cinnamon flavours in the US (I quite like the Red Cinnamon Tic-Tacs), I was keen to see how it tasted and to get DBS thoughts, too.

The Taste

Own
Nose: This starts with genuine, sweet cinnamon, reminding me of cinnamon swirls. Stay a moment longer, and you get a dryer, sharper cinnamon scent, like cinnamon balls (DBS calls it “the big American Red” cinnamon smell and says that it “brings back all of the good times” he’s had in the US; praise, indeed!). Towards the end, this develops into an almost medicinal, spearmintiness.
Taste: A little viscous, this had a substantial sweetness that made it exceptionally smooth. This is followed by a huge burst of very strong cinnamon flavour: real, fiery cinnamon that made my lips tingle. It sharpened on the finish, capturing that medicinal, spicy note and ensuring that it wasn’t too sugary on the finish.

Frozen
We froze some of the liqueur for a couple of hours and tried it again; the additional chill really lengthened the flavour profile and exaggerated its sweetness, making it taste just like a cinnamon swirl/roll. The syrupy nature and intense, icing-sugar sweetness lasted for much longer than the same tipple at room temperature or over ice. The sharper, spicier hint of cinnamon came in at the end.

With regards to cocktails, the drink naturally lends itself to winter warmers, but, with a UK summer release, I wondered how it could work in coolers; my recommendation would be to serve it over plenty of ice, mixed with ginger ale and some fresh citrus. Spicy, yet refreshing. Perfect for this summer heat.

 

- Mrs. B.

Jim Beam Honey – WOW26

Over the past couple of years, there has been a bit of shift in the whisk(e)y liqueur market: whilst the Scotch liqueurs (Glenfiddich, Famous Grouse and the excellent Macallan Amber) have all been discontinued, there has been a rise from the other side of the pond with products from American Whiskey producers such as Evan Williams, Wild Turkey, Jack Daniels and, now, Jim Beam.

When we spotted this latest introduction to Jim Beam’s range, we jumped at the chance to try it. I am a big fan of Jim Beam’s Red Stag (bourbon infused with natural black cherry flavours), which takes their good, solid bourbon and adds another dimension of cherry without overpowering with artificial flavours or sugar, and so I was excited to get some of the new Jim Beam Honey in my glass.


What I found especially intriguing was the fact that I couldn’t find this product anywhere on Jim Beam’s American website; our sources tell us that this is because Honey was recently trialled in the German market, before being produced for the UK.

Like Red Stag, Jim Beam Honey isn’t a liqueur, but rather a flavoured bourbon; the label calls it a “spirit drink”. It’s a rich, dark caramel in colour and is 35% ABV. The bottle is the familiar Jim Beam shape, but the label has a subtly raised honeycomb pattern, which is a nice addition.

Now, onto the spirit…

The nose is light and sweet, full of vanilla and caramel notes that gradually give way to light woody notes. I occasionally caught a hint of alcohol at the very end, which faded into an acute sweet sugar note that reminded me of a kind of soft, seaside rock candy that we used to have on holiday when I was younger (it really is amazing how smells can bring back memories!).

Given that this wasn’t a liqueur, I was impressed at the silky, but not syrupy start, which allowed it to flow easily over my tongue without being sticky. I was also surprised at how smooth it managed to be; the start, especially, was remarkably so.

A few seconds later, the warmth kicks in, bringing with it more complex vanilla and oak flavours. The levels of sweetness are perfect for just “lifting” the drink slightly, whilst not taking over. This sweetness and the light and medium wood notes are finally highlighted on the finish with a hint of honey. I liked that the honey notes weren’t overpowering or sickly, but, instead, worked with the strength of this whiskey: the oak.

This product brought back fond memories of when I first tried Red Stag. As with that one, I was impressed by the way that Jim Beam Honey took Jim Beam’s bourbon and simply added another dimension of flavour, whilst not taking anything away from that base spirit. The result is a neat and solid new contender to the honeyed whiskey market and one that I will thoroughly enjoy drinking when I fancy something a little more than bourbon, but nothing as sweet as a liqueur.

- Mrs. B

Jim Beam Honey is available from The Whisky Exchange at around £23 for 70cl

Special thanks to Stephen, Garry and JM for their help in writing this article.

Macallan Amber Whisky Liqueur – WOW24

DTS & I first heard about Macallan’s Amber liqueur during one of our much loved trips to Edinburgh; it was recommended to us by a very helpful shop assistant who, at the same time, lamented at its rarity. Indeed, this is one of the many whisky liqueurs that have now been discontinued, but, when we spotted that The Whisky Exchange had managed to get hold of some, we decided to treat ourselves.

In my opinion, the bottle itself is something of a treat; it’s by far the most dramatic and luxurious looking liqueur bottle that I’ve seen, with it’s elegant curves and wooden cap. Gorgeous.

As soon as I poured this, my nose was greeted with a rush of rich maple syrup and pecans. DTS even picked it up from the other side of the room. Upon closer inspection, I also found melted butter, raisins, and a touch of peppery spice. The wood of the whisky crept in at the end, but the maple syrup and pecans really do dominate this nose, stopping just short of being sickly.

This was silky smooth on the tongue and slightly viscous. The initial flavour – like the nose – was powerful: maple syrup, followed by a hit of raisins and pecans. Oaky vanilla comes in afterwards, with hints of rich wood and accompanied by a spicy finish that reminded me of pepper or celery, although DTS said that he associated the finish more with the aftertaste of pecans or brazil nuts. This finish is both rich and persistent – ten minutes later, both DTS & I could still taste that celery-like spice, backed by a syrupy sweetness.

Overall, I think this is absolutely delicious. The flavours are so strong, rich and plentiful, but they still all work together remarkably well. There’s a definite, pudding-like quality to this liqueur, with its maple and pecan notes and general all-round richness, so it’s not for those who dislike genuinely sweet liqueurs, but if you have a sweet tooth, are partial to the occasional pecan danish and get the chance, I’d definitely recommend trying this gem; it won’t be around forever.

- Mrs. B

Macallan Amber Whisky Liqueur (probably the Best Whisky Liqueur) is available for £69.95 for 750ml only from The Whisky Exchange.

Coole Swan Irish Whiskey Cream Liqueur – WOW23

According to the neat, frosted bottle, Coole Swan is a “Superior Dairy Cream Liqueur”. A quick glimpse at the list of ingredients gives some insight to this “superiority”: it is made in Ireland using Irish whiskey, fresh cream, Belgian chocolate, Madagascan vanilla, and cocoa from the Ivory Coast.

The nose reminded me strongly of good quality milk chocolate ice-cream and cocoa paste, with an ever-so-slightly bitter edge that stopped it from being at all sugary. I also caught a scone-like quality that, combined with the creaminess, made me think of a lighter version of DTS’s cream tea cocktail. There wasn’t much in the way of alcohol on the nose; any that was there was at the end and slightly fruity.On the tongue, this liqueur was exceptionally smooth, as well as being relatively weighty. On a scale of heaviness, I would say that it sits pretty neatly between Merlyn (which is very light) and Bailey’s, which I think is quite heavy.To taste, it was initially fresh and almost fruity, before the primary flavour of vanilla and cream, laced with creamy milk chocolate, took over. Having said that, none of the flavours were overpowering or heavy; there was a really nice balance of flavour, which I think shows ingenuity and restraint on behalf of its makers. After a few sips, a comforting, but subtle warmth built up in my stomach, reminding me that this was alcoholic.

Overall, I thought that this was very pleasant indeed. As I’ve stated before, I’m not overly fond of cream liqueurs, but this one – with its delicate chocolate flavours and luscious, but not heavy, creaminess – has disarmed me. It’s subtle, smooth and elegant. If you like cream liqueurs and chocolate, definitely give this one a try.

- Mrs. B

WOW14 – Zuidam Honey Whisky Liqueur

The sample of Zuidam Honey Whisky Liqueur that I tasted was brought home to me by DBS, in a small, clear plastic bottle, which made for an interesting experience, as I had no preconceptions from the physical appearance of the packaging. After I’d written my tasting notes, I researched the bottle and was startled to find that it is definitely not a typical bottle: it’s a beautiful, decanter-like bottle made from dark glass, with a very minimalistic label.

Zuidam Distillers is a family business – the founder’s wife designed the unique packaging for some of their products – and the Honey Whisky Liqueur is apparently one of the first recipes created by one of the sons who now run the distillery.

The nose of the liqueur was a delightful combination of honey and fragrant floral notes. It was also fresh, like a light whisky, reminding me of some of the very first Scotch whiskies that I tried on my first trip to Edinburgh. The more I delved into it, the more flavours I found, including: toffee, banana (I frequently smell banana in whisky, which is something of a running joke between DBS & me, but I noticed it, so I shall note it here), burnt sugar, and a tiny bit of anise.

On the tongue, this liqueur was smooth, silky, and complex. Initially, there was a pleasant sweetness, before a very sudden and unexpected peatiness; from the nose, I expected something a lot more subtle, but there was a wonderful warmth to this drink that lasted for a good while. Every now and again, I also got reappearances of the honey and burnt sugar flavours that had started in the nose, supported by subtle, sweet spicy notes. The finish was warm and smoky, with no burn whatsoever.

I have to admit, I’m really quite fond of this one: I love the delicate nose and how this contrasts with the rich, warm flavour. I shall definitely have to buy myself a larger bottle before the colder months set in and that warmth can truly be appreciated.

- Mrs. B.

WOW13 – Bruadar Malt Whisky Liqueur

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Bruadar, named after the Scottish Gaelic word for “dream”, is a single malt whisky liqueur made by The Scottish Liqueur Centre in Bankfoot, Perthshire. The company have what I consider to be a very admirable and interesting collection of liqueurs in their range and I look forward to covering a few more of them over the coming weeks, but today’s focus is Bruadar – their honey and sloe whisky liqueur.

I loved the nose of Bruadar: to start, I just noticed warm, promising notes of Scotch whisky and the smooth, sweet scent of honey, but then I also caught the intriguing scent of violets. This was swiftly followed by the smell of oats or – more precisely – oatcakes. After a minute or two of deliberation, I realised that it reminded me of the comforting combination of a warm wheat bag and a glass of Scotch.

On the tongue, Bruadar was exceptionally soft and sweet to start, being remarkably smooth. There weren’t any heavy or potent Scotch flavours, although the whisky still had a presence in the drink, but as more of a base, with the other flavours “working around it”.

I found the strongest of these flavours by far to be violets, with a finish that focused on the sloe berries: fruity and softened by the sweetness of the honey to remove any tartness. Despite my saying this, the finish really wasn’t very sweet at all, nor was it savoury; it was just very clean and balanced. Not at all sticky or syrupy, it was exceedingly easy to drink.

Overall, I thought that Bruadar was a wonderful and obviously fine-tuned liqueur, taking a whisky base and overlaying it with warm, comforting notes of violets, honey, oats, and sloe berries. As a fan of Scotch, I appreciated how all of these flavoured had been neatly woven together – even though there weren’t any heavy whisky flavours – and the smoothness will doubtless make it popular with those who don’t usually drink whisky. An interesting, comforting and yet light Scotch whisky liqueur.

- Mrs. B.