WoW 32 – Jim Beam Red Stag – Spiced with Cinnamon

Last week, I reviewed Jim Beam Honey Tea, which was kindly sent over by Seva (of Seva’s Sunday). This followed Jim Beam’s release of a cherry bourbon (Red Stag or Red Stag Black Cherry) and was close on the heels of their honey bourbon (Jim Beam Honey). Today, we are looking a companion release to Honey Tea: Red Stag Spiced.

Like Honey Tea, this is based on Jim Beam White Label and bottled at a very respectable 40% ABV and is flavoured with spices (the primary spice being cinnamon. Interestingly, Evan Williams recently released a Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur in the UK, which we reviewed here.

What did it taste like?

Nose: Like the Honey Tea, I was once again pleased to find the characteristically sweet (light caramel) and woody (vanilla oak) Jim Beam nose on this flavoured whiskey. This time, however, it was accompanied by the warmth of the kind of “red” cinnamon that you get in cinnamon candy; it also reminded me of aniseed balls. There were also some other spices in the mix, reminding me of spiced biscuits.

Taste: Exceptionally sweet and syrupy to start, followed by strong warmth from the cinnamon, which – again – came across as that more raw, “red” cinnamon flavour. I thought that the cinnamon was more gentle than the Evan Williams Cinnamon, but some of this may have been the additional sweetness.

The spicy warmth was met by a good warmth from the bourbon. The more traditional bourbon notes are definitely there (easier to find if you are familiar with Jim Beam), but the spice really does take centre stage.

Finish: There almost seemed to be two finishes to this (!): the first was very sugary, but this faded into a much drier one, more in line with cinnamon sticks or powder. Pleasantly, the warmth of the whisky continued after everything else had disappeared.

In Conclusion
I thought this was another good addition to Jim Beam’s range of flavoured bourbons and was surprised to find that I actually preferred it to the Honey Tea. DTS – a big fan of cinnamon – enjoyed it, too, and noted that it had very good Autumn/Winter cocktail potential, which I thoroughly agree with. It could put a fantastic twist on any cocktail that needs some bourbon along with sugar; I’m looking forward to experimenting with toddies, an Old Fashioned and possibly a Manhattan when we can get hold of a full-size bottle.

Cocktails with… Red Stag from Jim Beam

Earlier on in the year, I was reintroduced to Jim Beam Red Stag. DBS & I first tried this on a trip to Florida a few years ago, where it seemed to be widely available, especially in the form of miniatures. Now that it’s available in the UK, we’ve spotted it in a few bars (alongside some wacky promotions, like free sunglasses) and again at the Boutique Bar Show earlier on in the year. Having tried it again at the latter, I was keen to review it and explore its versatility.Red Stag isn’t a liqueur, but rather a flavour infused bourbon and is bottled at 40%ABV. Jim Beam start off with a four-year-old bourbon, to which they add natural black cherry flavour. Simple, straight-forward, but a little bit different.

On its own

The nose was of sweet bourbon, with hints of cherry and what I thought was an underlying hint of pear juice. On the tongue, it was lightly silky, with lots of sweet cherry flavours to start. The flavours of the underlying spirit then fade in as the sweetness dries out, leaving a pleasant, clean finish. As it does so, a strong, lasting, delicious warmth develops.

with Ginger Ale

This had a fresh nose of cherry and lemon. On the tongue, sweet cherry notes flow into the faint warmth of the ginger. Oak and vanilla notes follow. Highlighted by the ginger, the flavour of the bourbon comes through impressively, making this somewhat reminiscent of a warmer, cherry-based version of fruit cup.

Manhattan

The sweet, vanilla and woody characteristics of the Jim Beam White (which is the base of Red Stag) come through, as well as a cherry jam doughnut note. Good and very sweet. The Red Vermouth gives a herbal complexity that sits quietly in the background. Towards the finish, there was a confectionery, almond note, ending on a very slight bitterness. This would be an excellent way to introduce people to bourbon.

Old Fashioned

1 part Red Stag, 1 part Jim Beam White, …
Incredibly smooth and not overly sweet, I thought this was a marvellous twist on one of my favourite cocktails. There were orange and cherry flavours to start, before the lighter versions of the familiar flavours of Jim Beam, predominantly a light woodiness, fade in. The bourbon notes build up a little as you continue to drink, which is dangerously easy to do. Essentially, a lighter, fruiter version of the Old Fashioned.

Bramble

Very sweet at the start, this had a cherry/raspberry jammy aftertaste that lasted for a good while. The warmth from the whiskey followed at the back of my throat and my stomach and, afterwards, I experienced a slightly sour sensation, akin to lemon sherbet. DBS thought this gave the drink an interesting sweet/sour balance, making it halfway to a whiskey sour.

Julep

Again, this had a very sweet, fruity start, with the drier, woody flavour of the bourbon growing through afterwards. The mint comes along with the sweetness, making it more of a sweet peppermint flavour, rather than the strong, independent mint flavour of a normal julep. Another interesting twist on a classic drink that’s lighter than the original; perfect for trying over the festive period.

Hot Toddy

As with most toddies, this had a lovely nose, rising with the steam; there was a sweet, fragrant scent of cherry, much like cherry flavoured boiled sweets or sherbet. To taste, the flavour was predominantly of cherry and lemon, which was followed by a glowing warmth from the bourbon. There was a definite sherbet sourness to this drink, making for a fresh, light toddy.

In Conclusion…

I’ve liked Red Stag ever since I first tried it. It adds another dimension (and one that’s likely to be more familiar to newcomers to the spirit) to the bourbon, enabling you to make some interesting twists on cocktails. If you find yourself wanting something with more bourbon flavours and less cherry, mixing 1:1 with Jim Beam White works marvellously. My favourite ways of drinking it were neat, in an Old Fashioned and a Hot Toddy – perfect for warming you up during the winter.

– Mrs. B

Jim Beam Red Stag is avaialble for around £23 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange,  Master of MaltDrinkShop

STOP THE PRESSES! Red Stag is also to but from Tesco at the bargain price of £16.31 for 70cl.