February 12, 2005

Phillips Union whiskies

Photo provided

Dean Phillips, fifth-generation head of Phillips Distilling Co. in Minneapolis, a company long known for flavored schnapps and vodkas and spiced whiskies, came up with a blend -- a "union" -- of Kentucky bourbon and Canadian whisky. They're 80 proof, $25 each, and aimed primarily at female consumers, several of whom joined me for a tasting.

Both whiskies are made in a facility north of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The bourbon and Canadian are taken from their aging barrels and blended in vats with local spring water. Some of the blend then is infused with the cherry or vanilla and left to marry. The finished products are bottled directly from the vats.

• Phillips Union Cherry:

In addition to the basic blend, this one is flavored with Michigan Royal Anne cherries. It tasted very much like a ready-made Manhattan straight from the bottle, and was particularly good with a dash of bitters and shaken vigorously with ice to both chill and slightly dilute the blend.

Phillips Union Vanilla:

This one is flavored with Madagascar vanilla. The sweetish concoction did require some cutting (plain soda works well). Did not have the signature bite of bourbon.

In both instances, mixing them in plain Coca-Cola (3 parts soda, 1 part whiskey) makes adult versions of Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke, particularly nice for a barbecue or summer party.

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