An interesting piece on The Guardian‘Word of Mouth’ blog last week looked at the modishness of flavoured whiskies.
Jim Beam Honey’s UK launch party, held in London last Thursday night, was not the standard affair for whiskies. Held in a hive-shaped tent, trapeze artists swung overhead as bartenders dressed as beekeepers served cocktails. Do you know, I think I even heard some popular music. Don’t ask me to name the track, though.
In case you’re not as on-trend as I clearly am, flavoured whiskies are currently proving a bit of a hit. Distillers in the US, seemingly less encumbered by tradition and regulations than their counterparts in Scotland, are mostly responsible for the craze. The launch of Jim Beam Red Stag a black cherry-infused version of the familiar bourbon, arguably took things mainstream in 2009.
That gives you a flavour (ho ho!), but the rest of the piece is worth reading. I think it’s rather perverse to go to great trouble to assemble and distil quality ingredients, carefully select appropriate casks and age for several years, only to dump in an incredibly sweet additive and mask all the flavours you’ve delicately nurtured. It seems, to quote the great sage Bernie Taupin, ‘like trying to drink whisky from a bottle of wine’.
As we hope we demonstrate, there’s plenty of variety in whisky already. It’s not like whisky-based flavoured drinks don’t exist anyway, in the form of Bailey’s Irish Cream, Drambuie, and any number of similar liqueurs. I quite like some of those; I just question whether adding to their number is taking whisky development in the right direction.
I’ll be interested to hear everyone else’s views on this…
Hat tip to Mike Holt for pointing the piece out to me!