While exploring our new local bottle shop I stumbled down the nips isle. These bottles, also called shooters, airplane, mini-bar, or travel-sized bottles, contain 1.7oz (50ml) to 3.4oz (100ml) of alcohol. This is just enough alcohol to mix a drink and is a great way to try out something new. Looking through the shelves I noticed three different bottles that highlighted honey in their flavoring. That was enough to spark my interest and do a taste test with all three. The nips selected were from Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Jack Daniel’s. By definition these cannot be called whiskey. By adding anything other than water to what comes out of the barrel changes the spirit to either a liqueur or distilled spirit specialty.
American Honey, Wild Turkey, 71 proof
The glass has a sweet smell of honey. There is a distinct honey flavor with a vanilla undertone. The liqueur is golden colored and fairly clear. Sweetness is dominant with the flavors of bourbon on the back end. The sweetness leaves a syrupy feel on the mouth. The drink feels like a cocktail without needing any mixer. Tingle on the mouthfeel and throat. Syrupy dominance of what is normally expected as a honey flavor.
Jim Beam Honey, Jim Beam, 65 proof
More alcohol aroma on the nose than a sweeter smell. Very strong vanilla flavor. Burn in the mouthfeel match the strong alcohol aroma on the nose. Liqueur has more of a balanced light golden color. I picked up a coffee flavor in the aftertaste. My wife did not but I have been known to put honey in my coffee from time to time. I found the aftertaste to be more pleasant than the previous sample. Bourbon flavors of caramel and toasted notes are more apparent in this glass than Wild Turkey. More balanced between honey and bourbon flavors.
Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s, 70 proof
Amber color. Burnt caramel sugar smells on the tip of the nose. Vanilla and light toasted notes. Cinnamon, vanilla, sugars and sweetess are all combined in the taste. There is not the generic honey flavors. The taste is more when you can find wild unpasteurized honey at a farmers market. Light mouthfeel. After taste continues to reveal layered flavors. Most layered and complex tasting of the samples.
According to the Bourbon Steward Program from Moonshine University, there is no wrong way to drink whiskey. With that being said I would use these more for cocktails. Each of them would add something different to the mix. The honey sweet syrupy taste of Wild Turkey would provide good contrast to the bitterness in a cocktail. The Jim Beam would provide a good substitute for cocktails that call for bourbon. The light honey aroma and flavor should be enough to be perceived but not dominate a bourbon based cocktail. Finally Jack Daniel’s would be recommended for a basic drink that the mixologist is looking at providing complex flavors to. Recipes that already have either a long list of ingredients or very dominant flavors should be avoided. This would only loose the complex flavors found in this liquor.