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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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Just Another Step (A Journal Entry)

I write personal journal entries whenever I have the time and can manage to put it down.  These come infrequently.  Like any journal, it’s a lot of personal thoughts and feelings, stuff I can’t possibly imagine sharing, much less on a public level.  But this latest journal entry is something I’ve been wanting to share.  It’s very expository and nothing will likely come of this post.  But for the few who might still notice what I have to offer, this is a piece which, though barely proofread and only just now written, is still very close to me.  No pictures, just the text and what I have to offer.  If you read it all then you should understand why.  If you don’t, no matter, I’ll just be back with what I already have.

I still can’t believe I’ve reached a point where I truly enjoy alcohol.  I can remember when I thought it should be done away entirely, all due to the hazards that come with it.  But now I see it as this incredible way of life in some ways.  The industry is daunting, albeit with no shortage of overly wacky creations, but you get that everywhere.  And the way I like to enjoy alcohol the most?  Cocktails.  It’s like food in how the right two (or more) ingredients can create something truly wondrous.  In a way, this is how I (and many others) got started drinking.  I hate to be another subject of the cliches, but my tolerance came with rum and Coke.  Before long, however, I was seeking different stuff.  Actually, scratch that, I wanted to try different stuff from the get-go, which is what I did.  Bacardi Oakheart, Devil’s Cut by Jim Beam, Jameson and Bailey’s, Captain Morgan Black, Jack Daniel’s Honey.  These were among my first forays into drinking, which has ultimately led to a still-developing appreciation for the individual beverages.  And while the last two of the aforementioned liquors made me realize just how tasty alcohol can be, it wasn’t until I repeatedly dipped into Jameson’s territory that I truly understood the integrity and complexity that comes with a single distilled beverage

As I said, mixed drinks and cocktails were (and still are) my means to enjoy drinks in social gatherings.  And after having Jameson mixed with Bailey’s, I thought “why not mix it with Monster Irish Coffee?”  As horrible an idea as that was, I’d still relive it before combining Jameson with, say, ginger ale.  In fact, before long, I came to find that Jameson doesn’t belong in any recipe.  There were two results I always got when mixing Jameson: the burn and alcohol would tear right through the rest of the drink, eradicating any and all enjoyment, or the combination would be so watered down and nasty that I might as well grab a low-end pack of beer.  It was around that point, after trying Jameson on its own, that I started enjoying the drink for what it was, learning that it’s one of those drinks that literally needs to be taken on its own.

If I mix Jameson with something, the repugnant results make it feel like the drink (Jameson) is saying “don’t mix (and ruin) me, enjoy me as I am.”  And when I do the true character and nature of Jameson comes through.  Nothing more than a bit of ice or a splash of water is needed.  So far, no other drink has come together with various flavors and characteristics which intrigue and impress me with each little sip.  Certain rums certainly offer the flavor and even an instantly satisfying experience, but they aren’t nearly as unique and ever-provoking as something like Jameson.

The experience of it all is like a mental journey, originating with my taste buds and sense of smell, two things I often feel like I live for. With that, having even a small drink of Jameson is like having an exchange with myself.  I want to be seen for who I am, not for how I mix with others.  I feel I have something different to offer, something many others may or may not have, and even I probably don’t know what.  There’s definition, but there’s also a lingering mystery and depth behind it all.  The key difference, however, is that I’m nowhere near a renowned and celebrated status, except on an extremely small and local level.  In that sense, Jameson is the Daniel Day-Lewis of alcohols, and I’m just one of the Lipnicki’s from The War, with Elijah Wood and Kevin Costner.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Blog

 

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