After a recent trip to Distil 2011, DBS – along with a slightly random, but beautiful sapphire – brought me back a small vial of whiskey liqueur that he had been given by the Eau de Vie stand at the show. They represent the Heaven Hill brand, including such delights as Rittenhouse rye whiskey, and they also make the Heaven Williams Honey Liqueur. My trying of this particular variety seems to come at a time when the market for American whiskey liqueurs is increasing; I hear that even Jack Daniels are planning to enter into the foray. Previously, my exposure to this market has been with the likes of Southern Comfort, Wild Turkey Honey and Jim Beam’s Red Stag.
The first thing that I was intrigued by with Evan Williams Honey Reserve was the nose: my first swirl of the glass smelled sweetly of the orange fondant that you get in the midst of soft centre chocolates; by my second, I was intrigued to recognise the scent of liquorice allsorts – the round ones with a liquorice centre and coconut on the outside, (David “reliably” informed that the technical term for these is “Cat’s Eyes”). This second scent stuck with me throughout the tasting, although David didn’t find it so prevalent. As time passed, however, the fruity notes of lemon and orange became stronger, all the while softened by sweet honey.
Don’t let this sweet nose disarm you, though: when I took a sip, the liqueur slid over my tongue in a very syrupy fashion, before hitting me with a bout of very unexpected, strong alcohol. My tongue and throat tingled progressively as the liqueur found its way to my stomach and I was left, somewhat taken aback, but enjoying the glowing warmth left behind. I don’t think I can emphasise how little I anticipated how strong this would taste, but – nonetheless – I enjoyed it.
More prepared for my second sip, I managed to catch flavours of orange and those liquorice allsorts again (!); much like the alcohol, they seemed to start at the centre of my tongue and then rapidly expand outwards. The flavours themselves were all gone so quickly that I couldn’t distinguish any particular whiskey notes, but the warmth and sweetness were both delicious and definitely made me want to drink more.
Some people may get fed up of the sickly, sweet nose, but I thought that, especially when drinking neat, this liqueur seemed to be more about the sensation than the taste. But, if you have a sweet tooth and don’t mind a bit of strength behind your liqueur, this could be the honeyed whiskey liqueur for you.
– Mrs. B.
For other Whisk(e)y Liqueur Reviews, click here