Jim Beam Bourbon has gone cherry! When I first heard the news I was shocked and thought it to be a risky venture, but one that could not be missed. So when Red Stag by Jim Beam arrived at my door, my anticipation was great.
What would a standby like Beam be with an infusion of "natural" black cherry? Would it hit that medicinal spot that many cherry spirits do? How would it fare straight or mixed?
Overall, I've found that it is not a whiskey for everyone - traditionalists will not appreciate it, but for those who love to mix, there are possibilities.
While I do enjoy the beauty of straight bourbon and find Jim Beam to be a mixing staple, I have found that Red Stag follows suit and I prefer it in cocktails. This is where a little twist on favorite whiskey drinks can be found. A simple mix like Bourbon and Water tames the sweet cherry just enough to take off the medicinal edge that I relate to cherry-flavored cough syrup. Still, that was not enough for some of my tasting companions.
So for a solution, we stepped it up to other obvious options. Red Stag and cola is a natural choice that is very enjoyable and the Manhattan follows a recommendation I received a while back from Bill Samuels Jr. of Maker's Mark, who sometimes prefers a splash of cherry to a dash of bitters with his sweeter bourbon.
Yet, my favorite bourbon drink for Red Stag to date is by far an Old-Fashioned. In this cocktail, you will find the cherry and orange are ideal pairings for the sweet black cherry, which gets a little help from the sugar. The optional club soda is essential, however, and with that you have one fine Red Stag Old-Fashioned.
The bourbon great has done a fair job with this infusion and it will make a splash if for nothing else than the surprise. It is the best tasting cherry-flavored whiskey available and if you're up for a little fun, it is worth checking out.
The aroma holds a soft, dark cherry sweetness backed by an oaky bourbon one expects from Jim Beam. The palate is warm and the pleasant mix of cherry is somewhat overpowering to the whiskey but not so much as to be distracting. It is in the finish that the black cherry and alcohol heat are most noticeable but in a sweet way.
About Jim Beam Red Stag
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.