Boots brand whiskeys do loo little to inspire confidence in their quality. They’ve got slick corporate looking labels for one thing; “corporate” and “whiskey” go together kind of like Mel Gibson and… Well, whiskey. For another thing, they commit the sin of having a plastic cap. Nothings says “this is cheap” like a plastic cap; the only thing worse is a
plastic bottle. They’ve each got a cheesy mascot like character to go with their flavor, which seems like the manufacturer is trying to spend extra on advertising since they skimped on production. Each one of these characters gets a little biographical paragraph on the side of the bottle, and the manufacturer can’t even be bothered to make sure their aren’t typos in the text.
It may have been years (if ever) that I tried any of them, except that about a month ago I was standing in line behind a man in a store, and saw the price when the cashier rang up a bottle of Honey B. Boots Buckwheat Honey liqueur: less than $7. That alone didn’t get me thinking that I should get some, but with this blog in mind I did ask the man one question: “Is that stuff any good?” At less than $7, I wouldn’t be too upset if I bought it and it tasted like garbage, since I expected it to be bad anyway.
The truth is, that man couldn’t tell me if it was any good, he said it had been recommended to him by a friend of his; he liked Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, but his friend told him to try Honey B. Boots, saying it was cheaper and tasted better. For some reason, the fact that he couldn’t give me an outright endorsement had me more interested than if he’d just told me it was good; my curiosity had been aroused, and now I needed to try it.
I found a bottle that night, on clearance as stated for less than $7. When I talked to the cashier, I was told that the way it was priced meant it was being discontinued; what luck that I’d grabbed the last bottle the store had. Opening the bottle, I was a bit underwhelmed by the smell. Its very nondescript, not smelling like whiskey, honey, or smelling sweet. The scent is completely nondescript; it doesn’t even smell like it has alcohol in it. Pouring some into a glass, no new scent notes developed. Could this really stand up to brands like Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam?
Taking a sip, I found the body of the spirit to be pleasantly viscous. It has a thick sugary texture, however it doesn’t have the consistency or feel that honey does. That wouldn’t be worth mentioning, except that it tastes just like honey. I was caught off guard by the flavor, because I’ve never had any mass produced product that’s supposed to taste like honey actually taste like honey. If you’ve been to a Popeye’s Chicken in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed that their honey tastes a little off, and if you look at the packets you’d see that it’s now “honey sauce” and that it contains corn syrup. In a world where even honey doesn’t taste like honey, the fact that cheap booze like Honey B. Boots does is kind of amazing.
What’s more interesting, is that Honey B. Boots Buckwheat Honey liqueur captures the flavor of honey without being overly sweet. If you were to mix this into a cocktail, you probably couldn’t use it as a sweetener. There’s just enough sweetness here to come out over the whiskey side of the liqueur. Speaking of the whiskey, you really won’t taste much of it. You get a sense that it’s there, but for the most part the honey flavor covers it up. There is, though, a very pleasant finish.
Building up over the course of sipping a glass of Honey B. Boots is a little lingering taste on the back of the tongue. At first you’re not even aware of it, but with each sip it gets a little stronger. It would be what is in a much nicer whiskey a nutty finish, but it’s immature and hasn’t reached that point yet. It’s simply a good savory note that slowly builds. By the end of a glass, it’s very present, it’s a finish that lingers for many minutes.
After trying it neat, I let my bottle sit in the freezer to chill for a few days. Honestly, you don’t need to bother with it cold. The honey flavor recedes into almost nothing, and is replaced by only the worst parts of the whiskey. That nice lingering finish is nowhere to be found, and to top it all off the drink doesn’t even thicken up that much. This is really one to just take straight and not mess around with too much. Surprisingly, after I took it out of the freezer, the condensation didn’t cause any water damage to the bottle’s label. It seems that that slick corporate sticker does more than just show off how much money the manufacturer can spend on it.
My experience having Honey B. Boots Buckwheat Honey liqueur on the rock was similar to drinking it chilled. The honey flavor mostly went away (especially when the ice started to melt) and the pleasant aspects of the whiskey were not enhanced at all.
So you may now be saying to yourself “this Ethanol Spirit guy (wait, is the Ethanol Spirit a guy even? But this is no time to digress-) probably doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. Who is he (or she) to tell me that this brand that I’ve never heard of is worth tracking down and spending my money on?” And now you’re thinking “holy cow, is this guy (or girl) reading my mind? How’d he know what I was thinking?” I know, I know, it’s a gift I have. But back to that first question. You could take my word for it, and blindly believe that Honey B. Boots Buckwheat Honey liqueur is good, or you could go out and find a bottle and put it to the test, but drinking some and finding out how good it tastes. But if neither of those options appeals to you, you can check out Goo Wak Jai‘s write up on the same spirit, under the slightly less wieldy title “Honey B Boots is Better Than Jim Beam’s Honey Whiskey.”