I’m not really sure where Pinnacle came from. I’d never heard of it or seen it in stores, and then one day someone told me to make a screwdriver with one of their flavored varieties, and suddenly every store had several flavors of Pinnacle on hand. A few large stores even had close to a dozen different flavors; a brand I’d never heard anything about suddenly took up a lot of shelf space, and I’ve since wondered how they became such a major player in the vodka market and I never noticed.
I bought a bottle of Pinnacle Whipped Vodka in a deal at a local convenience store, and didn’t really plan to open it any time soon. I’ve had it before and know what it tastes like, so it didn’t really fit in with my whole “try new things” approach to picking out liquor. But, I bought of bottle of Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur, and it came with some cocktail recipes that just happened to include Pinnacle Whipped, so I opened it to try them out. Since that coincidence left me with an open bottle of Pinnacle Whipped, I’ve got no reason not to try it again and write my experience down.
Taken straight at room temperature, there’s a lot going on with Pinnacle Whipped Vodka. It’s artificially flavored, but it certainly doesn’t taste like whipped cream. It’s got a nearly overwhelming butter taste that brings me to the verge of gagging unless I take the tiniest of sips. It’s got an interesting thick consistency and is slightly sweet, which makes me wonder if there is sugar in it. It puts a tingle on the tongue and leaves a pleasant hint of burn as it goes down. It leaves a buttery taste in the mouth that’s much less strong, and more remenicent of cream.
On the rock not much changes, though the butter taste comes down a step to a more reasonable intensity. While my opinion may not sound so positive at this point, I don’t want it to be misunderstood: I’m not down on Pinnacle Whipped. I know that when food scientists add artificial butter flavor, their thinking is “more is less.” They put enough in that it won’t be smothered out by other flavors, and I think that that is why the flavoring in this vodka is a bit overstrong; Pinnacle expects people to mix this vodka with other things. If the butter flavoring didn’t have some kick to it, you wouldn’t be able to taste it when you mixed it. And that leads me to that screwdriver I mentioned above.
Mixed in with Tropicana Grovestand orange juice, the flavoring in Pinnacle Whipped takes on its intended character. The two mix together for a drink that tastes a quite a bit like an Orange Julius. The thick texture of the vodka even sort of simulates the texture of the milk or cream used to make one. It’s almost like Pinnacle Whipped was made for just this combination…