March 13, 2009

Red Stag by Jim Beam

Bill Dowd photo

Billed as the first Jim Beam innovation in more than a decade, this black cherry-infused bourbon joins the industry trend toward more flavored spirits. It will be on the market in June.

• Red Stag by Jim Beam

As a longtime bourbon drinker, I'm a bit set in my ways. I like several brands, but I started on Jim Beam way back when, and that's my go-to whiskey. But, I also find the small-batch brands -- Elijah Craig, Booker's, Basil Hayden, Baker's -- enjoyable, both straight or in cocktails, so I'm not against a little variety.

That said, it took me several tries to cozy up to this new offering. A classic Manhattan cocktail is whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters and a maraschino cherry. Sometimes a little bit of the cherry juice is added for those who like their drinks on the sweeter side.

Beam says Red Stag is an "extension of the cherry infusion made popular in the Manhattan cocktail." I'd quibble a bit with that, since the cocktail's cherry is maraschino, not black cherry as is used in this new expression. They're two different tastes.

Thus, when I tried Red Stag as the primary ingredient in a Manhattan I found it far too sweet for my taste. A tasting companion expressed the same reaction. I also tried it cut half-and-half with regular Jim Beam bourbon plus the usual vermouth and bitters. It still didn't have the appeal I sought.

But, when we tried it straight, at room temperature, in a tasting glass, we both liked it. What we have here, in my view, is a nice liqueur: warm, with a bit of spice from the rye in the grain mash, with mild notes of vanilla and caramel from the oak maturation that balanced off the black cherry infusion.

Suggested retail price: $3 above Jim Beam White. So, local pricing will prevail.

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Richard Lovrich said...

Sounds like the Red Stag would make a great splash for chicken or turkey.

William M. Dowd said...

Now THERE's an interesting thought -- and from a bourbon fan, at that.

Richard Lovrich said...

No bottle is safe when there is something in the oven at our house. Wines, Champagnes, liquors and liqueurs, and just plain booze all go on the bird. Especially things that I have deemed too sweet for drinking, they are the first to go in.

I have left Pernod out of my recipes however. Pernod and shrimp taste like Chanel No. 5 and rubber.

ejleonard said...

Thank you.
I've been telling friends that Beam Stag is really a sipping whiskey but they refuse to accept that. Now I have the word of an authority to back me up.