…Best Flavored Whiskies
The world’s obsession with bourbon and with whiskey in general shows no signs of slowing down. With demand climbing year over year and more and more brands looking to find creative ways to bring younger product to market to meet it, one result is a proliferation of flavored whiskies hitting the shelves. The only issue is that some of these are just…not good. To help you avoid the disappointment of arriving home only to realize you’ve purchased a bottle of undrinkable rotgut, we’ll take a look at five of the best flavored whiskies on the market, in no particular order.
- William Wolf Pecan Bourbon
Hailing from the Netherlands where it is produced using US-made bourbon infused with pecans, this is very mild on the bourbon front, but very assertive in the pecan department. Those accustomed to the cloying and synthetic flavored liqueurs crowding the shelves will be pleasantly surprised, as William Wolf has a very naturalistic profile with just enough alcohol warmth to drive it home. This will suit lovers of, say, spiced rum very nicely, though even avowed bourbon purists would surely enjoy a liberal shot of this in a Saturday morning coffee this Autumn. You can snag a bottle for around $25.
- Sons of Liberty Pumpkin Spice Flavored Whiskey
This limited seasonal release has garnered multiple awards, and for good reason: it delivers on the promise of its name. As sales of a certain coffee chain’s signature fall beverage indicate, people can’t seem to get enough of that spiced pumpkin flavor, but for the whiskey lover, a latte may simply not cut it. For their Pumpkin Spice Whiskey, Sons of Liberty actually hand processes 32,000 pounds of locally sourced pumpkins with the help of volunteers, roasting and pressing them before adding spices like cinnamon, clove and vanilla. The resulting juice is used to proof the Rhode Island distillery’s own single malt whiskey, giving it a deep, authentic pumpkin flavor. This is a fantastic tipple for crisp nights by the fire and is likely to please about anyone with taste buds. It can be had for around $48 when available.
- Wigle Walkabout Apple Whiskey
Inspired by the eponymous Philip Wigle of Whiskey Rebellion notoriety and the quixotic adventures of Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman, this apple whiskey takes an approach not dissimilar to the Sons of Liberty bottle mentioned above, starting with a nicely balanced ~2 year aged four grain whiskey and bringing it to proof using a cider blend of a whopping 7 apple varieties, all grown and pressed only 15 miles from the distillery. One of the nicest qualities about this apple whiskey is that it actually tastes like whiskey. For those of you who have tasted the splendor that is bourbon and hot cider, this is a bit like that taken to the next level. Efforts to marry the flavors of apple and whiskey go so far as the inclusion of honeycomb-cut applewood staves added to the barrels months in advance of proofing, and the effort really shows. It’s well worth the $75 price for this memorable bottle.
- Leopold Bros. Michigan Cherry Whiskey
This whiskey gets its beautiful, deep oxblood red color from the inclusion of juice from prized Montmorency cherries grown in Michigan. Leopold Bros. produce a number of excellent fruit-flavored whiskies, including a remarkable Georgia peach variety, but this one is a standout because of the great interplay of the tart, bright cherry juice and the warm vanilla spice of the whiskey. This is fantastic neat, but I’ll bet it makes for a great Old Fashioned as well. You can find out for a reasonable $31.
- Knob Creek Smoked Maple
There have been several maple-flavored whiskies brought to market in recent years with varying levels of success. This, however, is among the first forays by a premium bourbon label into the realm of flavored whiskies, and fortunately, Knob Creek did it right. The flavors of the smoke and sweet maple don’t eclipse the bourbon, and it steers clear of the viscous and overly sweet missteps offered by several competitors. Like the rest of the whiskies mentioned above, part of what makes this a great drink is the complementary balance between the flavoring and whiskey base, giving it the appeal of a well-crafted cocktail as opposed to a syrupy novelty. You can grab a bottle at your favorite package store for about $31.