Bourbon Reviews

Whiskey Has A New Flavor

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It used to be, back in the day, you could tell the whiskey drinker in the crowd. He – and it had to be a “he” because if it was a “she” you probably had some additional things to worry about besides your garden variety whiskey addiction – would most likely be an older fellow and be sporting a beard or, at the very least, a very professor-like persona which gave you the impression that a lot of thought was put into what he had decided to put in his glass and he was not going to suffer many fools. That has all changed in 2013. Changed and been turned upside down and then rotated 45 degrees.

Nowadays, the old-school whiskey drinker is either dead, a grizzled veteran reminding you of a sea captain recounting his whiskey stories, a newly-bearded pseudo-hippie or a swanky new media money guy in a fancy-schmancy suit driving his fancy-schmancy sportcarmobile. Then you have the people who will be buying the flavored whiskey. They are the new kids on the whiskey block. They never really much cared for your single malts or your aged bourbons, but if you put a little honey or cherry or cinnamon in it – well, that changes everything, mister! These people have emerged from the woodwork over the past three years or so, shortly after the flavored vodka rage ran its crazy course. What kind of people are these that like things named Fireball, Red Stag and Old Punk? They used to be mostly people without beards – otherwise known as women – but now they are morphing into men, hipster culture men, mostly, and a smattering of hicks for the cheaper stuff. Who would drink these whiskies? Most likely grown up – or not grown up – frat rat types or anybody who just didn’t like the strong taste of whiskey in the first place and might be prone to mixing raspberry Kool-Aid with Glenfiddich. Yeah, those types.

The roster of flavors being produced now is stunning. Honey is still the most popular flavor by far as it is the easiest to introduce into a whiskey and less likely to offend delicate palates of non-whiskey drinkers, but a staggering array of other flavors have popped up, giving the flavored vodkas a run for their money. They include apple, blackberry, botanicals, cinnamon, cherry, pumpkin spice, root beer and yes, even maple syrup [in Canada, naturally].

Introduced originally in 1976 by Wild Turkey, the flavored whiskey re-emerged in 2009 and grew by 75% in 2012 [over 2011 numbers] – making it the faster growing segment of the domestic whiskey market.

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