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

Drambuie 15 Yr Old – Whispers of Whisk(e)y 22

For 2012’s first Whispers of Whisk(e)y, we return to Drambuie, which I reviewed just over a year ago, back in 2010. Drambuie 15 Year Old is made from a combination of 15 Year Old Speyside malt whiskies and the distinctive herb-and-spice flavours from “Bonnie Prince Charlie’s secret elixir”. It’s slightly stronger than the regular Drambuie (43%ABV compared to 40%ABV) and comes in a more elegant and distinguished looking bottle.


Its nose was soft and sweet, but substantial. I picked up allspice and the kind of sweet ginger that I recognise from baking homemade gingerbread, and butterscotch, alongside lighter herbal notes.As a liqueur, this was smooth and velvety. The initial flavour was a delicate sweetness, which was followed by a rush of warmth and rich, genuine and unmasked wood. As the wood notes start to develop further, they’re supported by comforting spiced honey notes. Fresh, herbal notes then came into play, all the while softened by the remaining sweetness from the honey.The warmth continued to intensify, even as the other flavours started to fade, making me think that this must surely be at home in a hipflask to take on chilly walks – something that DBS & I were able to test on a seaside stroll yesterday. I can hereby confirm that it was, indeed, the most tasty hipflask tipple I’ve ever tasted, having a perfectly comforting mixture of sweetness, warmth and atmospherically mysterious herbal notes that I never can quite pin-down.I’d highly recommend that you try this; ideally, in the midst of a swift seaside or woodland walk from a hipflask that’s warm from your pocket. Delicious!

- Mrs. B.

For more Whisk(e)y Liqueur Reviews please click here

WOW16 – Wild Turkey American Honey – A Whisky Liqueur

This review comes at a time when American whiskey is on the rise, internationally speaking (we have an on-going American rye whiskey shortage in Europe at the moment), and, along with this, comes the rise of the whiskey liqueur; Heaven Hill make the Evan Williams, Jim Beam make Red Stag, and Jack Daniels have recently entered the fray with their Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Liqueur*. But today’s focus is the Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur.
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The nose of American Honey is interesting, but slightly subdued when compared to some other honey liqueurs. The main two elements – unsurprisingly – are a sweet honey note and a heaver one of bourbon. DBS, an old-time fan of Wild Turkey bourbon, was very pleasantly surprised by the nose.
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Interestingly, where I found “Cats’ Eyes” liquorice allsorts in the Evan Williams liqueur, in American Honey, I found the “sandwich” ones. There was definitely a sweet, liquorice scent in there.
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To taste, the liqueur was quite syrupy and rich, with a heavy sweetness right at the beginning that quickly made way for more weighty flavours of bourbon, all smoothly rounded off with a honey finish. There was some warmth, which left my mouth and throat tingling slightly (although there definitely wasn’t any burn).
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I think that it’s worth noting DBS’s opinion here, as he’s a long-time fan of Wild Turkey bourbon (whereas I’ve only tried it a few times). He seemed to be fond of American Honey pretty much instantly, with its very definite bourbon base, although he noted that it was quite sweet. Despite this, we both agreed that it wasn’t as sweet as the other honey liqueurs and, therefore, may be a worth a try if you’re a bourbon fan – regardless of whether or not you usually like liqueurs – and fancy trying something a little different. It might also be something to experiment with in sweet, bourbon-based cocktails, omitting any additional sugar or syrup? I will be sure to write up any future experiments and their results.

- Mrs. B.

* Something I’m very keen to try, if you know where I can get some.