When DTS recently received a selection of gins from Seva in the US*, I was very pleasantly surprised to find a couple of little whiskey-related treats alongside the juniper-related ones. Namely, a miniature of Jim Beam Red Stag Honey Tea, a relatively new addition to Jim Beam’s Red Stag range.
Like the Black Cherry variety (which we reviewed in cocktails here), the Honey Tea is not a whiskey liqueur, but an infused bourbon. It’s bottled at 40% ABV and is produced by infusing Jim Beam whiskey with natural flavours.
Decidedly of bourbon – good ol’ Jim Beam – with maybe a hint of additional sweetness (honey and brown sugar) and sweet spice, like you’d get in spiced cookies. After a few minutes of warming, the tea started to come through on the nose, but it was a distinctly sweet tea (at least three lumps, I would have thought) without any bitter tannins.
To taste, it was quite sticky and sweet. There was an initial flash of flavour: honey, white wood and vanilla. This was followed by a second wave of heavy citrus, which takes a little longer to disperse.
The tea notes, which were quite subtle, only made it through on the finish, which was interesting. These notes were very much like those of loose leaf tea, with a distinctly green, leafiness to it. The tea flavour gradually built up to be less subtle after a few sips, just as the sweetness seemed to be less prominent.
Although I initially thought that this was a tad too heavy on the “honey” sweetness and not heavy enough on the “tea”, my final conclusion is that it was actually rather tasty, albeit a lot sweeter than the Red Stag Black Cherry. As a result, unlike the latter, I found myself more drawn to trying this in a variety of cocktails than drinking it neat. I can already visualise a couple of drinks involving more tea (preferably iced) to balance out some of that sweetness and look forward to experimenting when it comes more widely available in the UK.
– Mrs. B
* You can read about some of these in DTS’s Seagram’s Sunday series here.