Flavored whisky is rarely taken seriously, but that’s starting to change as serious distillers eschew the sugar in favor of an all-natural approach. Open your mind, and take a walk on the flavored side, where real ingredients like chocolate, maple, and cherry add spice and profile worthy of consideration.
Alberta Rye Dark Batch—$30
The addition of about 1% sherry wine gives this blend of rye and bourbon whiskies a touch of prune and candied dates. Offers a pleasant richness and supple body quite unlike traditional Canadian ryes. Whisky Advocate score: 87 points (Fall 2017)
Charbay R5 Hop Flavored Whiskey—$80
Distilled from Bear Republic Brewery’s Racer 5 IPA, with extra hop flavoring, this whiskey’s smoky, slightly salty green spices come roaring out of the gate before a hoppy heart reveals itself in a lengthy, dramatic finish.
Kings County Chocolate “Flavored” Whiskey—$37
Brooklyn-based Kings County steeps fresh cacao husks—remnants of the chocolate-making process—in their corn-based white dog. The resulting juice is rich, bitter, and soft on the palate, never overplaying its subtle sweetness.
Knob Creek Smoked Maple—$31
Pure maple syrup on the nose. The intrigue here is the interplay between a dialed back BBQ-glaze-like essence and the base spirit. Like a rack of ribs and original Knob Creek bourbon in one convenient pour. Whisky Advocate score: 89 points (Fall 2014)
Leopold Bros. Michigan Cherry Flavored Whiskey—$40
Montmorency cherry juice leaves a gently tart footprint, quieted by time in the barrel. The marriage in oak allows for a well-rounded finish, wherein familiar notes of vanilla and caramel are brightened by stone fruit.
Seven Stills Fluxuate—$37
Legally, up to 2.5% by volume of harmless coloring or flavoring may be added to non-straight American whiskey. Typically, it’s caramel coloring, but Seven Stills of San Francisco includes cold-brewed coffee from nearby Black Medicine for a whiskey with aromas of roasted vanilla, and a gently caramelized finish.