Over the last few years, flavored spirits have been on fire, and as a result brands have been introducing ever-more-creative bottlings—everything from smoked-salmon vodka to chocolate tequila.
Even whiskey distillers are getting in on the action. Brands both big and small are releasing a range of flavored bourbons and ryes, including, of course, Jim Beam’s hugely popular Red Stag line. While many of these new offerings are targeting flavored-vodka fans, some of them, especially from the smaller companies, are drams even connoisseurs will appreciate.
So without further ado, here are 10 new flavored whiskeys that you need to taste...that is, if you dare!
We can confirm the rumors: Next month, Knob Creek is introducing a 90-proof smoked-maple bourbon extension. The bottling, according to the brand, was inspired by its founder, Booker Noe, who loved maple syrup and was known to tote around one of his homemade smoked hams wherever he went.
While Wild Turkey is famous for its bourbon and rye whiskey, it’s also a flavored-whiskey pioneer, having introduced the sweet American Honey way back in the ‘70s. (It was called Wild Turkey Honey Liqueur back then.) And this fall, the distillery is set to release the new Wild Turkey Spiced Bourbon. It’s so new that we haven’t even had a chance to taste it yet. What we do know is that it will be 86-proof and it’s “a bold blend of Kentucky bourbon and exotic spice flavors.”
Jim Beam helped jump-start this trend when it introduced black cherry-flavored Red Stag back in 2009. The latest addition to the line, which now includes four varieties, is Hardcore Cider, which is supposed to have “crisp fruit and subtle spice” notes. It will hit the market later this month and was inspired by—you guessed it—apple cider.
Several months ago, Washington, D.C.-based importer Georgetown Trading Co. released one of the most unusual rye whiskeys we’ve ever tasted, Pop-Wow Botanical Rye. It’s infused with a range of botanicals like saffron and orange peel. Currently, the liquor is only available in limited markets. (Looking for other unusual bottlings? Check out our Category-Defying Spirits slideshow.)
Flavored whiskeys may be the latest and greatest thing in America, but for hundreds of years the Scottish Drambuie has been combining Scotch whisky with local honey, herbs and spices. It’s now joined by Dewar’s Highlander Honey, which calls for honey sourced from an apiary near Aberfeldy, Scotland, along with a secret blend of other ingredients. The mixture is then filtered through oak chips. The result is sweet with an intense aftertaste of honey and a hint of peaches.
Can’t decide between whiskey and a beer? This aptly named spirit could be just the thing for you. Corsair starts with a mash made up of Belgian yeast and malted barley, plus three different types of hops, yielding a whiskey with all the piney and grassy hop flavors of an American IPA. The bottling will be released in the coming days, but in the meantime, you can pick up one of Corsair’s other flavored whiskeys, including Vanilla Bean Whiskey and Pumpkin Spice Moonshine.
Brooklyn’s Kings County Distillery produces the only chocolate whiskey we know of. Master distiller Nicole Austin infuses her spicy moonshine with cocoa husks from Mast Brothers Chocolate in Williamsburg to create a rich flavor that’s not too sweet. (It makes quite a Manhattan.) Right now, the expression is only offered at the distillery’s on-site shop, but it’s set for a wider release next year. Kings County is also planning a spiced whiskey infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and other spices just in time for your holiday Hot Toddies.
The 2013 special summer release from Sons of Liberty, Rhode Island’s only whiskey distillery, is this unique spirit. It began life as an IPA brewed with Connecticut's Cottrell Brewing Company and was then distilled and aged in American oak barrels. After that, it was dry-hopped with Citra and Sorachi Ace hops to add even more floral notes. This fall, you should also keep an eye out for the distillery's delicious Pumpkin Spice Whiskey, which is infused with locally grown pumpkins and spices like allspice, cloves and vanilla.
Flavored-whiskey fever has spread across our northern border, too: In June, Canadian Mist introduced a new 70-proof peach version. The base is the brand’s familiar charred-oak-aged whisky, mixed with a special peach liqueur. Don’t like peach? There are also cinnamon and maple versions.