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Evan Williams Cinnamon Reserve Review

Cinnamon flavored alcohol seems to be slowly following in the footsteps of spiced rum; companies are beginning to spit their own takes out, bit by bit.  Goldschlager’s gone through somewhat of a surgence, we were treated to Fireball Whisky not too long ago, and even the latest offering from Malibu, Island Spiced, promises “caribbean rum infused with coconut, vanilla and a hint of cinnamon.”

And here we have Evan Williams, certainly no stranger to flavor-infused spirits.  They’ve already granted us affordable liqueurs in the form of Reserves (honey and cherry), each sharing their own bit of success.  Naturally, a new flavor has worked its way out of the distilleries and onto store shelves.  Cinnamon Reserve promises a “hot cinnamon taste” along with “a hint of fire and spice” and, if my time with Honey Reserve was any indication, one heck of a sticky, syrupy experience.

A picture of cinnamon churros with 2D flames is certainly eye-catching amidst aisles of black, white and brown labels.  The copper color of the full bottle proves to be misleading, as the spirit’s saturation quickly fades when poured, unlike the more consistent Honey Reserve.  On the nose there’s a definite cinnamon character (what a shock), though I can’t help but compare it to Fireball, which is far more forward.  It’s odd too, since Fireball is a cinnamon-infused whisky, while Evan Williams is merely a liqueur, so the bourbon-whiskey essence is played down.

If you gave me both Cinnamon Reserve and Fireball in a blind taste test without trying either beforehand, however, I’d have thought very differently.  Where a shot of Fireball tingles your mouth and taste buds like a tasty, spicy chicken wing, Evan Williams gives you a more straightforward cinnamon flavor with cordial and bourbon essence immediately on the finish.  More cinnamon briefly creeps back up, but it doesn’t stick around nearly long enough to leave a remotely strong impression.

Much like Crown Royal Maple, the cinnamon of Fireball felt like it was an actual part of the whiskey.  Yet with so much flavor, combined with a fairly tame amount of alcohol (66 proof), Fireball lacked the soul of a true whiskey.  What it offered instead was a rather refreshing experience, given the gimmicky premise.  Evan Williams, by comparison, wants to be a jack of all trades.  It wants to feed you the added flavor, but not so that cinnamon is the only thing it offers.  Sadly, the rest of the drink is not very worthwhile.  That lingering, syrupy character which Honey Reserve bathed in is present here, bringing out an experience that makes me suspect this stuff has high fructose corn syrup.  It doesn’t have this issue quite as bad as Honey Reserve, but without as much of a flavorful profile, it’s hard for me to be generous.

I hate turning this review into a comparison, but it’s damn-near inescapable.  Evan Williams have simply found themselves stuck on the backburner once again.  Honey Reserve was an ample supply of honey, but once considered alongside Wild Turkey’s American Honey, the lower price tag began to make even more sense.  Not that Honey Reserve was a bad product, it just didn’t have much of a place amongst vastly superior (Wild Turkey) and commendably different peers (Jack Daniel’s, Bushmills).  Cinnamon Reserve can at least enjoy the potential for more accessibility in recipes, though if my town is any indication, its not going to be the easiest bottle to find.  What we have here is a spirt that feels timid, afraid of giving us the flavor and experience touted on the very bottle.  It’s not a bad drink, per se, but when you can get a more authentic and fulfilling experience for literally the same price elsewhere, it’s tough to look at the glass half full.

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Posted by on March 23, 2013 in Alcohol, Alcohol, Blog, Drinks, Review

 

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Bang Energy Drink Review (Champagne Cola & Lemon Drop)

How many bad puns and play on words can you make with your favorite energy drink?  Unleash the Monster, Amped up, Party like a Rockstar, Alter My DNA.  Well guess what?  VPX has a new drink that’ll put all those to shame.  The designation: Bang.  Your choices: Lemon Drop and Champagne Cola.

Bang

Let’s keep track of just how many times I irrelevantly work a play on the word “bang”  throughout this review.

My co-workers touted this drink for some time, with one of them saying it made him feel like he could climb Mount Everest.  Bang me up, buddy, cause I’m game!  I suppose the upward bullet on the can is supposed to indicate how high you’ll feel.  What it doesn’t tell you is that the space between the bullet and the VPX logo is probably how close your body will get to a caffeine overdose.  Seriously.  Each can has 357 milligrams of caffeine, “more than three cups of coffee.”  To put that in even more perspective, an 8.46 ounce can of Red Bull has 80, while a full can of regular Monster has 160.  And somehow the drink has no calories, no fat, no sugar and, needless to say (and proudly stated on the bottle), “contains no fruit juice.”  Bada-boom, bada-BANG!

My first venture to the drink was with the Champagne Cola, which honestly sounds like something to cater to women.  Two sips into the can and I was already feel more kick than most energy drinks provide in their entirety.  Halfway through I could feel my body hitting the pinnacle of their now-overworked alarms.  Now I can tell people about how I got banged one day at work.

Champagne Cola

Somehow, even with all that caffeine, the drink is very clear.  What’s even crazier is that the taste definitely isn’t champagne or cola-like, but more like a light mix of Monster and the bubble gum flavor of Rockstar Sugar-free.  But like I said, this drink really banged me hard within the first 8 ounces, so I set the rest aside for later.  After I settled back down, I decided to rejoice myself, see if it would still provide a nice final kick.  Oddly enough, I was unaffected.  It was like all the caffeine came to me at once, which wouldn’t be too surprising.  I do like the way it tastes since it’s similar to that off energy drink flavor, but it’s less offensive.  On one hand, I can easily see myself choosing this flavor for a nice kick.  However, frequently seeking this much caffeine probably isn’t the wisest decision in the world.

Lemon Drop

Next we have Lemon Drop, which my co-workers have swarmed to.  One of them described it as tasting just like Sprite, and I can see why.  I’d say it’s closer to a Diet Sierra Mist flavor, since it has that off, sugarless flavor that’s characteristic of diet soda.  I’m not sure if it was my recent exposure to Champagne Cola first or the off-putting aftertaste, but Lemon Drop didn’t do much for me.  While I felt a bit more upbeat, I’d compare it to the mild effects of Mountain Dew Kickstart and Monster Ultra Zero.  Everyone I’ve spoken to said they preferred Lemon Drop, which is fine by me, since that’ll leave more for me to happily bang.  At least, until the cans run out (again).

 

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Off-Hand Reviews: Red Bull & Monster

Here’s a new style of reviews that I’m looking to incorporate.  Somewhere between the roots of my blog (the brief quote reviews) and the Lightning Reviews on The Impulsive Buy, these will be quick reviews of various products.  Most of the time they’ll be items I’ve tried, just not in an environment where I can provide a full, hands-on review.  Or it’s just my natural human laziness, you pick.

Red Bull Red

If you like cranberries, you may find something to like here.  Conversely, if you hate cranberries, keep your distance.  And wouldn’t a strawberry flavor be more fitting of red?

Red Bull Silver

I’m glad I’m not design-blind, because Red Bull Silver would have me shouting up a storm for mixing it up with my can of Red Bull Zero.  Not just at the fact it’s a different flavor, but the fact I might as well add my Red Bull to a bottle of Sprite so I can get some lemons while I’m at it.

Red Bull Blue

George Carlin once said that white people ought to understand that they’re job is to “give people the blues, not get them.”  Well I’m white, and I bought Red Bull Blue.  I got the blues, so now what?  In all seriousness, this is the best of the new Red Bulls and the only one I’d call enjoyable.  That said, even those flavored grams of sugar and milligrams of caffeine did nothing for me.

Monster Absolutely Zero

Seems Monster had no trouble getting into the world of absolutes.  No sugar, no calories, no crappy designs and no shortage of a chemical rush.  The fact this stuff works its magic on me makes the off flavor and odd ingredients more than a bit concerning.  At least it keeps me upbeat in a retail environment.

Monster Lo-Carb

Absolutely Zero had no shortage of a chemical rush, Lo-Carb is in lo’ supply of lo’ding me into a kick.  The comparatively boring design doesn’t help either.

Monster Ultra Zero

This can has an engraved design and texture.  What will they think of next, cans that blow several grams of sugar up your nose upon opening?  It’s going to take more than nifty designs and good tastes to make me return to a drink that might as well have as much kick as sugar-free iced tea.

 

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