Flavored whiskey is one of the most polarizing categories of whiskey appreciation. For some, it is sacrilegious. For others, they like the idea of it, either for easy sipping or for the base of a cocktail. As for myself, I’ve had some very good flavored whiskeys and some that were barely tolerable. There was even one or two that weren’t even that.
When Whiskeysmith Co. approached me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing their lineup of flavored whiskeys, I said “absolutely.” It isn’t that the category is a favorite of mine – as I said above, they are very hit-or-miss. But, the opportunity is there to #DrinkCurious and take a chance, or in this case, six chances.
What is Whiskeysmith
Co.? It is a subsidiary of Old Elk Distillery out of Fort Collins,
Colorado. Its master distiller is Greg
Metze, who spent 38 years at MGP
while becoming its master distiller in 2002. Greg joined forces with) Melinda Maddox, Old Elk’s Beverage
“Look alike, yes. Act alike, no. One a master distiller, the other a flavorist. Together, they distilled the essence of a sweet treat in such a way that revitalized American whiskey. Some would say for the better, others might scoff. But you know better than to listen to others, you’ll try for yourself, and when you do, you’ll notice something only these two could do.” – Whiskeysmith Co.
Today I’m sampling six of its seven flavors: Chocolate, Banana, Pineapple, Blood Orange, Salted Caramel, and Peach. I was not provided a sample of the seventh, that being Coconut.
Each of these is bottled at 30% ABV (60°) which makes these whiskey liqueurs rather than “legal” whiskeys. They’re all made with a wheated base whiskey and infused with natural flavors. Each cost about $24.99 for a 750ml package and can be acquired in about 29 states. Whiskeysmith Co.’s motto is More Flavor, Less Labor.
The whiskeys are labeled numerically, and I’ve decided the way I’m going to test these are in numerical order. I used a fresh Glencairn glass each time and refreshed my palate between each flavor. I also drank each of these neat. Yes, you could use any as mixers, and if you visit the Whiskeysmith Co. website, there are a variety of recipes for each.
I’d like to thank Whiskeysmith Co. for providing me with these samples in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews.
No. 1 – Chocolate was first up to bat. This one is made with real chocolate! You can see some sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Give it a gentle swirl and that’s reabsorbed by the whiskey.
Appearance: This incarnation presented as deep, dark, and brown. A thicker rim was created, which led to watery legs.
Nose: If you stuck your nose in a bottle of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, that’s exactly what it smelled like. Beneath that was a touch of sweet caramel. When I drew the air into my mouth, the cocoa was obvious.
Palate: This whiskey had a very soft mouthfeel. The palate offered dark chocolate, vanilla sugar cookie, and toasted oak.
Finish: Medium in length, flavors of caramel, dark chocolate, and toasted oak remained.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I enjoyed the Chocolate and got excited about tasting the rest of the lineup. It tasted better than I imagined, and this was easy to sip neat. I’ll toss my Bottle rating at it.
No. 2 – Banana was up next. It is made with a natural banana flavor.
Appearance: Banana was the color of straw. It formed a thinner rim but fat, slow legs that crawled back to the pool.
Nose: The aroma wasn’t just banana, but it was specifically banana cream pie. When I inhaled through my mouth, the whipped cream from it was even stronger.
Palate: I assumed all the whiskeys would have the same mouthfeel. This second one shut that theory down. Slightly heavier than the chocolate, the palate only offered banana pudding.
Finish: Medium-to-long, the finish started with oak spice and continued with the banana pudding. Once the pudding fell off, the spice remained.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I don’t believe the spice and pudding meshed pleasantly. It wasn’t bad, but it seemed disjointed. As such, I’ll offer Banana my Bar rating.
No. 3 – Pineapple was honestly the one I was the most excited to try. I adore pineapple. Yes, I even put it on my pizza! It was made with natural pineapple flavoring.
Appearance: Pineapple presented as golden amber in color. A thicker rim yielded watery legs that crashed back to the pool.
Nose: Aromas of… banana? Wait a minute. I already tried the banana! I took another sniff, and this time it was joined by pineapple. But the banana dominated. When I breathed the aroma in my mouth, a blend of pineapple and vanilla danced across my tongue.
Palate: Pineapple offered a return to the soft mouthfeel. It also tasted just like pineapple juice which then moved to vanilla, whipped cream, and oak.
Finish: Pineapple featured a short finish that brought more banana (what?) and pineapple juice.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I was left confused with Pineapple. I expected pineapple. I didn’t expect banana. I had to go back to this one a couple of times just to make sure I didn’t mix something up. As it turned out, I didn’t. While I love pineapple and looked forward to this one, it didn’t do anything for me. You’ll want to try this one first before committing to a bottle, which means a Bar rating.
No. 4 – Salted Caramel was next up to the plate. Sticking to a theme, this one was made with natural salt and natural caramel flavors.
Appearance: Salted Caramel was the color of gold. It generated a medium rim and caused a slow curtain to fall back to the pool.
Nose: Aromas of sweet caramel and vanilla cream filled the air. When I breathed in through my mouth, the flavor of toffee seemed obvious.
Palate: With a medium body, my tongue was greeted by salted vanilla. As it moved back, that changed to caramel and toasted oak.
Finish: Salted marshmallow cream stuck around for a medium-length finish.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: At this point, Salted Caramel was my favorite. Everything just seemed to fit the way I imagined it would. It didn’t take much thought to convey my Bottle rating for it.
No. 5 – Blood Orange came next. This was one of two that I wasn’t excited over. While I like orange, the flavor of blood orange is less appealing to me. Yes, a natural blood orange flavor was used.
Appearance: Blood Orange appeared orange (not dark like a blood orange) amber. It formed a medium rim and slow, thick legs.
Nose: A delightful smell of orange zest and vanilla tapped my olfactory sense. And, despite being just those two aromas, I couldn’t call it a Dreamsicle. Orange peel flowed into my mouth as I drew the vapor inside.
Palate: Blood Orange’s mouthfeel was very thin. The tastes of orange, vanilla, and a smidge of clove came together nicely.
Finish: Medium-long in length, orange peel, and toasted oak stuck around.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Happily, Blood Orange was a tasty treat. I’m glad it didn’t turn out as I anticipated. It didn’t beat out the Salted Caramel, but still snagged my Bottle rating.
No. 6 – Peach was the final pour. While I like peach as a note in whiskey, like blood oranges, I’m not big on peaches. But, as I was pleased with the Blood Orange, I’m giving it a college try. As with all of the previous variations, natural peach flavoring was used.
Appearance: Peach came across as the color of gold. It created a thick rim and fat, heavy legs that raced back to the pool.
Nose: A fragrant bouquet of fresh peaches wafted from the glass before I brought it to my face. That’s the only note I picked up. However, when I took the aroma into my mouth, the flavors of peaches and cream lollygagged across my palate.
Palate: The mouthfeel was oily, and I experienced peach, oak, and white pepper. The peach seemed artificial, despite the natural flavor.
Finish: The finish was unchanged from the palate, and lasted medium-to-long in length.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I didn’t care for the Peach, and not because I don’t care for peach. What I didn’t enjoy was the artificial taste. I tried several times, hoping that the palate shock would end and I could get beyond it, but that never came to be. Unfortunately, Peach takes a Bust.
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.