Paddy Devil’s Apple

Bottles of Paddy Devil’s Apple have been sitting at my local grocery store unbought for Paddy.PNGabout 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?

Advertisements

Crown Royal

I’ve had a bottle of Kirkland Signature Blended Canadian Whiskey sitting on my liquor shelf for a while, and I’ve been looking forward to trying it. But, when I was about to open it one day, I realized that its royal purple label with gold accents was meant to resemble Crown Royal whiskey, what is probably the single biggest brand of Canadian blended whiskey in the US. Having never tried Crown Royal, I didn’t want to taste Kirkland’s take on the category until I knew what they were comparing themselves to.

Having more than a few bottles waiting to be tasted, written up, and photographed, it’s actually been a few months until I’ve had a spot in my budget, time to shop for, and an opportunity to taste the so called “legendary import” that is Crown Royal whiskey. Since I’ve really been looking forward to that Costco bottle though, I knew I couldn’t put off trying out Crown any longer.

Box Logo
The simple exterior packaging of Crown Royal

Everything about Crown Royal tries to impress upon you that it is, in fact, royal. It comes in a royal purple box with gold and red accents. The box its self eschews any busyness, except an embossment of the gold trim to make it resemble a rope. There’s no cluttered text, no excess of logos, slogans, or other gimmicky advertising hoopla to be found. The manufacturer has kept the box just about as simple as possible, as if to try and keep the buyer from being distracted. Once the box is open though, things start changing.

SackHaving never had Crown Royal, I was a bit surprised to find in the box not a bottle, but a cloth bag cinched with a golden yarn. Like the box, the bag is royal purple, with gold stitching, and the Crown Royal logo stitched into one side. It’s made of soft cotton cloth, using a weave that looks like canvas but is much more supple and doesn’t seem as tough.

GlowIn the bag, the bottle is the exact opposite of the box. The labels have a splotchy background meant to look like yellowing parchment, and are completely packed with imagery and text. The front label has pictures of curtains with tassels, a crown on a pillow, a logo, calligraphic font slogans, and a scroll. The back is filled with all the various legal, corporate, and advertising texts you’d expect a liquor bottle to have, but the label its self is rather small, so it seems to be swimming with text. The bottle is sealed with a mostly clear plastic seal, but around the bottom a purple ring is adorned with golden crowns all the way around. The cap is a heavily molded plastic monstrosity meant to look something like a crown (but which doesn’t really succeed in doing so.) Even the glass of the bottle its self is almost completely covered in an angular filigree.

The whiskey its self is medium golden brown amber color. Poured into a brandy snifter, it somehow seems darker in the glass. The scent is rather indistinct; you can tell that the whiskey was aged for some period of time in wood, but there’s no indication of how long, what kind of wood it was, or any flavor that the wood may have imparted. There’s no discernible grain scent of any kind. The strongest odor is that of alcohol, but even that seems somewhat mellow.Glass and bottle.PNG

Taken neat, there’s not much more to the flavor than there is to the scent. There’s a nondescript wood flavor, but it’s not especially strong. There is the taste of alcohol, and it is thankfully not overpowering. Other than that, there’s not much. I don’t taste barley, wheat, or corn. There’s not fruitiness from a cask, nor are there flavors of nuts or spices or toffee. There is a sort of a toasty finish, but it is very, very mild, and on the occasional sip I’ll get a very very vague hint of another flavor, which I’d like to say it rye, but it’s so weak I can’t really be sure.

The whiskey is very dry, with no sweetness to be found anywhere, but also nothing savory, sour, tangy, or bitter, either. There’s no smoke, no earthiness, no salt. The one good thing to be said about the mild mannered nature of this spirit is that it’s also very smooth; there’s just enough burn that you can feel it on the edges and back of the tongue, but just so. It certainly doesn’t reach the point of being unpleasant, but there’s also not enough there to really enjoy the sensation either.

After being open a while Crown Royal does come to life a bit, but all the new flavors are still just whispers of hints. Everything that developed as this whiskey oxidized has to be described with I think. I think I may have tasted corn at one point. I think I tasted some cinnamon. I think I tasted some oaky flavor one time. One of the only things that I know I tasted was the beginnings of nuttiness, which often comes from the heated surface of a whiskey still. That particular taste’s time in the spotlight was short lived though, as as the flavor evolved it developed the little that it did and then faded away. The same is true of a flavor of spices that waxed and then waned.

With all the guff one hears about blended whiskey from the cork sniffing peanut gallery among single malt fans, I think it may be safe to say that the mild nature of all the flavors in Crown Royal could be due to the fact that it is blended for consistency overall, and not to enhance any particular set of flavors within it. I am curious however about what I’ll find after my palate has developed and I come back to a new bottle (this last drops of this one are nicely filling a tumbler as I write this.)

Pinnacle Whipped Vodka

Pinnacle WhippedI’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…