Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Flavored Bourbon

Disclaimer: As I mentioned in my introduction to this series of posts, these are my thoughts and do not apply to anyone but me.  I am not seeking to offend anyone only to share my thoughts after enjoying good and not so good bourbon for 40 years.
Let me start by saying that I believe that bourbon should taste like bourbon. 
I do not like flavored bourbon.  A good bourbon should stand on its own and not need to have maple, honey, cinnamon, apple, berry or other flavors added to make it palatable.  A bourbon should have the right mix of flavors from the grains and especially from the oak barrels.  I like to sit with a Glencairn glass filled with two fingers of good bourbon warming in my hand and just smell the flavor coming into my nose.  As the bourbon warms, a different set of delicious odors comes up.  While I sip from the glass my nose is as happy as my tongue.  I don’t want anything to interfere with my enjoyment of the bourbon.  I only have my two fingers each evening but as the bourbon warms and breathes, I get several unique drinking experiences in the same glass.
Flavors added to bourbons take the complex and multifaceted bourbon and turn it into a one dimensional booze.  When I have had a flavored whiskey I can only taste the added sweet flavor.  I can honestly say that only one of the flavored whiskeys that I have had was actually bad but none was just exceptionally good.  Most were very “drinkable” whatever that means but none gave me the bourbon experience that I crave.  I could taste little of the oak and grain much less the more subtle flavors of spice, fruit, caramel and toffee that are so characteristic of the bourbon that I love.  All I could really taste was the added flavor.
As I said earlier, I can only state my opinions.  I have nothing against flavored whiskey if that is what you like.  Friends had told me that flavored spirits are a good way for non bourbon drinkers to make the transition from clear spirits to bourbon.  I can see that.  I even recommended a honey flavored bourbon to a friend who wanted to make the move over to bourbon from mixed party drinks.
For me, I want my bourbon to taste like bourbon and will continue to buy and enjoy my favorite bourbons.  I will leave the flavored choices to those who appreciate them.


  1. I like them both! I usually stay with a straight bourbon, but occasionally enjoy a honey or cinnamon whiskey as well. Some are better than others. Marieanne prefers the flavored. Not all flavors appeal to me, and there is a considerable difference in brands just as there is a difference in flavor among the makers of the clear spirits.

  2. I have to confess that I had a change of opinion at your house. I have never been a huge fan of gin. However, I had a gin flavored with a twist of lime at your house that I REALLY liked. Did the lime obscure some of the botanicals in in the gin? Probably, but I still liked it!