Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Red Stag by Jim Beam

Well, this is different. Label's different, liquid looks different, the smell's different, and the taste is damned different. Funny thing is...the bottle's the same.

It's Red Stag by Jim Beam, labeled as "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Infused with Natural Flavors," with a big sub-label "BLACK CHERRY." Which right away makes me wonder if there are other flavors ready if this works. I also wonder at how they put the Jim Beam name and seal and bottle on this new and kind of risky venture. (Budweiser Select, anyone?)

Does it work? Well, the cherry flavor is, as it says, an infusion of natural flavors, and it smells and tastes like it. It tastes like bourbon that's had cherries steeping in it, something we used to do back home in Pennsylvania Dutch country, a thing called cherry baunz (you also added sugar and tried to crush a few stones). The fruit flavor is not nasty or fake -- as I mentioned to a friend on-line, it's impressively authentic -- and it's not completely overwhelming. It does come across as too sweet...but for what? For bourbon? It's not, it's flavored bourbon. That's one of the good things Beam did: everything is spelled out nice and honest on the label.

And the best part of it being flavored bourbon, is that they kept it 80 proof, which keeps it from being wicked gross nasty sweet, like the first batch I tasted of Wild Turkey's American Honey. But like American Honey has become (and I do nip off Cathy's bottle occasionally), this stuff is just sweet...and it fits. Because it's got real bourbon flavor, coming from real bourbon. It's the bourbon that keeps me picking up the glass.

I almost want to mix this with some heavy cream. I think that's where Red Stag's best future lies: recipes and cocktails. I do have a shameful liking for sweet Manhattans; this might be wicked tasty. Sipping? Huh-uh. Over ice, splash of seltzer? Getting warmer. Don't think of it as bourbon whiskey. Think of it as cherry baunz.

And I just got the word: on shelves in June.

17 comments:

Chuck Cowdery said...

They were smart to send out bottles of the stuff and not press releases.

Even if you hate (or at least worry about) the idea of it, they pulled it off very well. I like to hit it with a little bitters, though, to take some of the edge off the sweetness.

Russ said...

Interesting. Growing up, my grandfather used to give me the cherries from his Manhattans. He would dunk them in water to (theoretically) wash the booze off, but they still tasted like they had been soaked in whiskey. Twenty-something years later, beer is my booze of choice and I never really took to whiskey, but I could sure go for another Manhattan-soaked cherry. As shameful as I am to admit it, maybe this could be my gateway whiskey?

Lew Bryson said...

Hey, I already admitted my shame! Maybe this is the stuff. There really is a good snock of bourbon flavor in there.

Lew Bryson said...

Chuck -- agree with the bottle vs. release. And they definitely did a nice job of...what they were doing.

Bitters, huh?

sam k said...

What about a squeeze of lime??

Chris said...

Is this available in PA?

Lew Bryson said...

It's not available anywhere yet, Chris; this was a pre-release to about 25 writers. I asked about a release date, and haven't gotten an answer yet.

Lew Bryson said...

Chris,
Just found out it will be out in June. Don't know about PA. Buy it in NJ.

Brewnut said...

Went out this weekend and my wife got to try Wild Turkey's American Honey, she loves the stuff strait up. I have to agree with you that it is a little to sweet for my tastes, but I find myself taking nips of hers for that whiskey flavor.

jp said...

are baunz and boilo the same thing?

TheAleReport said...

Lew, this seems like the kind of thing you tried only because it's called Red STAG. Think you can get a private bottling run with periods after the letters to indicate Beam's true intentions?

Lew Bryson said...

Heh. I hadn't even noticed the STAG part. I'm a dope.

Baunz and boilo are NOT the same thing, though both are good at the right time!

jp said...

the PLCB sells that Pa Dutch egg nog stuff which is like egg likor with whiskey added. I kind of like it, not sure what it has to do with the PA Dutch, but it is pretty good for like 7 dollars a pop. I have been messing around with making my own rock and rye which is not too hard to do just decanting some rye whiskey with slices of citrus fruit, rock sugar and horehound.

Gary Gillman said...

Catching up to this one a little late. When I grew up in Quebec, a country nostrum was a "ponce" which was a mixture of spirits (originally genever gin which had a large sale in Quebec in former times), honey or maple syrup and water, drunk warmed in the winter.

There is also the cherry bounce well known (or formerly) in the south and other parts of the U.S., and which may be of English origin.

I wonder if all these drinks, ponce, the ponche rum mixtures too of the French Caribbean, and the PD baunz are related, I would think they are.

It sounds like the new Beam product is a good one. I would not regard excess sweetness (for those who find it so) an issue, since addition of regular Jim Beam would adjust that quality to taste.

I enjoy the blogs, Lew, keep them coming.

Regards.

Gary

Lew Bryson said...

That's a really interesting possibility, Gary. Seems almost too close to not work. Wonder how that runs down?

Glad you enjoy the blog; you always have insightful and substantive comments.

Suzanne said...

Yes, it is in our store--Gateway Liquors in Finksburg Md. It is located on Route 140 just east of Route 91. My husband tasted Red Stag and was plesently surprised by the cherry flavor. He said it was very mellow. Stop by and ask for Jerry. Let us know what your think of it.

AVB said...

They just put a sign up in my local PA store about it coming in June. Of course, it is the 9th already and no product but that is to be expected. The stupid PLCB put up Jameson hat talkers out last month for St. Patrick's day.