Yesterday’s pop quiz question about adding flavor to bourbon reminded me that I hadn’t yet opened my sample size of Evan Williams Cherry Reserve, the latest entry in the growing category of flavored bourbons. I have to say, I was a little offended at first by this trend, an obvious tactic to court women as customers. While I applaud the fact that distillers are finally acknowledging the other half of the population, I don’t need – or particularly want – them to add fruit flavors to bourbon. But then I realized that I don’t have that same reaction to flavored vodka or rum, so I decided to get over myself and at least try a few of these new products.
Evan Williams says this 70-proof liqueur has ”the smoothness of Evan Williams with a sweet cherry taste,” and they are not kidding. It tastes very much like the goo inside a chocolate-covered cherry – way too sweet for me to ever imagine drinking it straight. But I have to say, it did make a very nice Manhattan (when mixed with some full-strength bourbon). If forced to choose, I prefer it to Jim Beam’s Red Stag, which tasted more like cough syrup to me. Maybe the key is when distillers embrace the fact that they’re not bottling bourbon and use the term “liqueur” on the label. That’s also what Wild Turkey calls its American Honey, another brand that I find mixes well in cocktails.