Bottles of Paddy Devil’s Apple have been sitting at my local grocery store unbought for about a year. They’ve been there so long that I started to feel bad for them, and bought one. It was such an unusual occurrence that the cashier even made a remark about how long they’d been there, and that he was glad to see one finally go out the door. Did I get myself in to something bad here? There’s only one way to find out…
Paddy Devil’s Apple is another flavored whiskey liqueur, like Honey B. Boots Buckwheat Honey. It doesn’t just contain the eponymous apple flavor though, but also has cinnamon flavoring as well. It’s light yellow in color, and comes in a pretty standard looking bottle.
Opening said bottle, it smells like artificial apple flavor. While it does smell pretty good, I’d be happy to eat candy that tasted like this whiskey smells, and the odor is appetizing in a way, I honestly expect flavored whiskey to have something of a more genuine scent. The fake apple overpowers any whiskey odors, and there’s not a hint of cinnamon to be smelled.
Upon tasting, nearly the exact opposite is true. It mostly tastes like cinnamon, and not the hot, overly piquant taste of cooked cinnamon, but the flavor of cinnamon its self, which is a pleasant surprise. It’s fairly smooth, with just a little nip to let you know that there’s some alcohol there, and no cinnamon burn until you swallow it. Upon swallowing, the cinnamon burn spread gently around my throat without becoming uncomfortable.
As for the artificial apple, it’s mostly in the background. This liqueur is not overly sugary, and is just barely sweet. Much like scent, there’s nothing to be found of any whiskey in the flavor. And this leads me to a question: Why drink whiskey if it doesn’t taste or smell like whiskey? I honestly think that some kind of cinnamon flavored apple pucker might be more useful than this particular liqueur, because I can hardly call it whiskey, and it’s too bland to use to flavor a cocktail.
With ice, the apple and cinnamon switch places again, with the apple becoming dominant and the cinnamon falling into the background. A new flavor emerges, but I’m honestly not sure where it comes from. It tastes kind of like a person’s breath (thankfully that would be a person that has good oral hygiene,) which is not something I associate with whiskey, cinnamon, or apple flavoring. The apple flavor also changes a bit, and starts to taste a little more natural, and makes it seem like there might actually be some real apple used to make this liqueur. Might…
In the end, I can’t recommend drinking this whiskey liqueur. While it has a couple things going for it (good cinnamon flavor, smoothness) it’s really just an indistinct, nondescript spirit. Maybe you could use it to spike some cider?
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.”