Flavored whiskey is a divisive sector of the spirits world. Flavored bourbons, favored gins, and flavored spirits in general always feel like they’re hiding something sinister (crappy booze, usually). After all, do we really need a “chocolate whiskey” when we have plenty of well-made whiskeys (from all categories) that can coax those flavors from the yeast, grain, and oak naturally without additives?
Moreover, the sweetness of a lot of flavored whiskeys can be an assault on your taste buds — muting pretty much everything else.
On the other hand, flavored whiskeys can be fun and inspired. If the flavored whiskey in question delivers on what’s promised on the label with more nuance than just a sugar bomb, then it can actually shine. And as someone who judges this stuff at international spirits competitions, I can assure you that there is some good flavored whiskey out there (alongside a fair bit of absolute dog shit).
All of this is to say that it’s time for another flavored whiskey blind taste test. I grabbed 12 bottles of new and classic flavored whiskey from my shelf for this tasting. That makes our lineup today the following bottles:
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- Jim Beam Red Stag
- Buchanan’s Pineapple
- Stillhouse Peanut Butter S’mores Whiskey
- Hercules Mulligan Eyr & Rye
- Duke & Dame Salted Caramel Flavored Whiskey
- Journeyman Distillery Pit-Spitter Cherry Flavored Whiskey
- American Beach Whiskey Co. Bonfire Cinnamon
- Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
- TX Texas Flavor Series Blended Whiskey with Natural Coffee Flavor
- Stillhouse Apple Crisp Whiskey
- Screwball Peanut Butter Whiskey
- Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple
When it comes to ranking these bottles, it’s all about taste. Does the whiskey immediately deliver the flavor profile it’s going for? How real does that flavor feel? And do I know I’m drinking whiskey? These are all important points, sure. But whether it tastes good and is well-balanced is really the most important factor. Let’s dive in!
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months
Part 1: The Flavored Whiskey Tasting
Nose: Cherry bomb. Nothing else.
Palate: That massive sweet cherry candy dominates the palate with a hint of woody bourbon underneath.
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Finish: Cherry syrup to the point that this feels like the cherry syrup add-in for Coke.
This is cherry through and through and so freaking sweet that it hurts my teeth.
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Nose: Fresh and juicy pineapple pops on the nose with a hint of lemon juice, orange rinds, and grapefruit pith.
Palate: A hint of malted caramel underpins a rush of fresh pineapple juice, pineapple skins, and a pineapple woody core next to malty whisky with a hint of vanilla and winter spice.
Finish: The end feels like a rummy whisky tropical cocktail with plenty of fresh orange, lime, and pineapple and a nice pinch of brown spice.
This is … delicious. The pineapple is super fresh and vibrant and the whisky is clearly there.
Nose: Butterscotch and peanut butter mingle with milk chocolate and a hint of vanilla.
Palate: The taste is all about that chocolate with fresh marshmallows and a touch of butterscotch.
Finish: Chocolate and marshmallow dominate the sweet finish.
This was a bit muddled — too much cheap butterscotch — but stuck the landing with a clear sense of chocolate and marshmallow.
Nose: The nose opens with a mild sense of green rye whiskey with apple skins, mild sour cherry, and bitter spice barks.
Palate: Those spice barks keep the taste bitter with a sense of herbal rye whiskey — dill and pine resin heavy — next to more sour cherry.
Finish: The end really leans into the rye whiskey of it all with a sweet sense of sour cherry and brown sugar.
This was the most whiskey-forward pour so far. It needs ice to calm down that bitterness though.
Nose: This is clearly salted caramel on the nose with a mild sweetness and a hint of vanilla and spice.
Palate: The palate is buttery and, well, full of salted caramel.
Finish: The end is very sweet but that sweetness stays attached to that caramel all the way.
This is salted caramel and nothing else. I like it, but I don’t know if I’m drinking whiskey at all.
Nose: Clear whiskey notes mingle with woody cherry on the nose.
Palate: That woody cherry gets bitter and sour on the palate with a mild green whiskey vibe.
Finish: The end is cherry but filtered through tartness and bitterness.
At least it wasn’t overly sweet.
Nose: This is a cinnamon bomb that’s countered by fresh — almost wet — fir and pine needles on the nose.
Palate: The taste is like taking in a whole, fresh Christmas wreath decorated with holly berries, cinnamon sticks, and winter botanical bunches.
Finish: Bold cinnamon and fresh fir trees dominate the end.
This is Christmas in a glass.
Nose: This is a cinnamon bomb on the nose.
Palate: The palate is like Red Hots or Hot Tamales turned into a drink.
Finish: Very sweet and very sharp cinnamon candies drive the finish home.
Again, this is Red Hots in a glass. It tastes exactly like those candies with nary a sense of whisky anywhere.
Nose: Thick chili-spiced drip coffee dominates the nose with a hint of sour cherry and maybe some stewed apple.
Palate: That heavy chili-infused coffee drives the palate toward a mild sense of sour cherries dipped in dark chocolate.
Finish: The dark chocolate bitterness melds with the dry red chili on the finish with a slight sense of tart coffee.
This is a glass of spicy, sour, and bitter coffee.
Nose: Stewed apples, soft caramel, and corn-fueled moonshine pop on the nose.
Palate: Fresh apple cider and uncut oats drive the palate with a hint of caramel and a touch of nuttiness.
Finish: The end feels like good apple cider cut with good ol’ corn-based ‘shine.
This was pretty good and clearly flavored without too much sweetness.
Nose: Fake peanuts and grain alcohol dominate the nose.
Palate: Plasticky vanilla extract and more fake peanuts arrive on the palate.
Finish: The end is kind of peanutty with an ethanol feel.
This is hot garbage.
Nose: This has sweet apple cider on the nose, almost Red Delicious, with a sense of the wood apple press.
Palate: The taste continues the apple cider vibe — not the bubbly kind but those little stubby Martinelli’s Apple Cider bottles.
Finish: The end is smooth and leads toward an apple cider oak barrel with a touch of spice.
This was pretty okay overall. It wasn’t too sweet and there was a sense of whiskey thanks to the woodiness.
Part 2: The Flavored Whiskey Ranking
12. Screwball Peanut Butter Whiskey– Taste 11
Average Price: $26
This flavored whiskey is made with “natural flavors” that present as peanut butter in the whiskey.
11. TX Texas Flavor Series Blended Whiskey with Natural Coffee Flavor — Taste 9
Average Price: $39
This Texas-based flavored whiskey is all about Fort Worth coffee flavors. That’s accomplished by combining TX whiskey with coffee from Avoca Coffee Roasters.
This tasted weird. The flavors just didn’t come together. I didn’t know if I was tasting a chili-flavored whiskey with bitter coffee/chocolate notes or vice versa. And there was no whiskey flavor at all. Skip.
10. Journeyman Distillery Pit-Spitter Cherry Flavored Whiskey — Taste 6
Average Price: $42
The base whiskey is made from 60% organic rye and 40% organic wheat up in Michigan. The whiskey is then aged with Michigan Montmorency cherries before bottling.
This tastes like chewing on a piece of cherry bark. I’d skip.
9. Jim Beam Red Stag — Taste 1
Average Price: $15
Beam’s cherry liqueur is cut with standard Jim Beam straight bourbon to create this popular release.
This is a cherry bomb and would work with Coke to make a boozy Cherry Coke. That’s about it though. It’s so sweet.
8. Duke & Dame Salted Caramel Flavored Whiskey — Taste 5
Average Price: $24
This starts with a blend of 100% corn whiskeys with a couple of two-year-old bourbons. That juice is mixed with “natural flavors” of salted caramel to create the final product. Amazingly, they’ve made a sweet-flavored whiskey that holds to 1 gram of sugar per serving as well.
This tastes exactly like a good salted caramel candy. It doesn’t taste anything like whiskey though. If you’re looking for a great salted caramel syrup with booze in it, then get this.
7. Stillhouse Peanut Butter S’mores Whiskey — Taste 3
Average Price: $20
This new flavored whiskey from Stillhouse (released March 2023) is made with Stillhouse’s corn-based whiskey. The whiskey is flavored with peanut butter, bitter chocolate, and roasted marshmallow via “all-natural flavors.”
This was fine. I got way more chocolate and marshmallow than peanut butter, making it kind of muddled in the end.
6. Hercules Mulligan Eyr & Rye — Taste 4
Average Price: $49
This ready-to-drink (kind of — you’ll have to do the diluting) whiskey is a blend of three American ryes and two Irish whiskeys. That’s flavored with cherry and aromatic bitters to give it a Manhattan vibe.
This was fine too. It needed dilution and rock for sure. I don’t know if it’s worth the price though when there are so many great whiskeys at $50 to make Manhattans with.
5. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple — Taste 12
Average Price: $18
Jack Daniel’s starts by making their own apple liqueur before adding in a dose of their Old No. 7 to remind you that you’re drinking the good stuff.
This felt pretty legit with a nice apple cider vibe and a touch of whiskey underneath. Overall, this is clearly for mixing but isn’t overly sweet by any stretch.
4. Stillhouse Apple Crisp Whiskey — Taste 10
Average Price: $24
This is Stillhouse’s famed 100% clear corn whiskey blended with their apple crisp liqueur.
This was edging toward deliciousness. It was so clearly apple with a freshly-pressed feel to it. There was nice depth and a clear — very moonshine-y — whiskey vibe. I can see this mixing with ginger beer and lime juice for a great refreshing spring/summer highball easily.
3. Fireball Cinnamon Whisky — Taste 8
Average Price: $15
This is probably the most famous flavored whiskey in the world. The whiskey in the bottle starts off with Sazerac’s Canadian whisky that’s blended with a bespoke cinnamon liqueur.
This delivers. It’s a sharp, spicy, and sweet cinnamon that’s exactly like a Hot Tamale or Red Hot candy. I didn’t get any whisky in the mix really, but the cinnamon flavor was so good that I can forgive that. If you want the ultimate cinnamon shot/experience, this is the obvious choice.
2. American Beach Whiskey Co. Bonfire Cinnamon — Taste 7
Average Price: $16
This claims to have one-third the sugar as America’s “leading cinnamon whiskey” (see right above). The clear whiskey is made with a bespoke cinnamon liqueur.
Again, this is Christmas in a glass. There’s actual nuance to this one that goes beyond a cinnamon candy bomb. If you want a little more from your cinnamon candy whiskey, then grab this (though maybe wait until the holidays?).
1. Buchanan’s Pineapple — Taste 2
Average Price: $34
This new release from Buchanan’s Blended Scotch Whisky is a flavored scotch that’s technically a “Spirit Drink.” Semantics aside, this is a mix of iconic Buchanan’s Blended Scotch with pineapple, citrus, and “natural flavors.”
This is just delicious. If you’re looking for a great, summery mixing Scotch whisky (or whiskey in general) for mixing bright fruity summery drinks, then this is the play. It also tastes pretty damn nice over some rocks.
Part 3: Final Thoughts on the Flavored Whiskey
Brasstacks, the top five flavored whiskeys on this list are the only ones you really need to care about. You can easily skip the rest.
Amongst that top five, Stillhouse Apple Crisp is a great standout for a nice highball. Fireball is annoyingly good if you’re looking for a cinnamon candy bomb. But it’s the Buchanan’s Pineapple that really shines. It feels real. That means everything with flavored whiskeys like this.