The Flavored Whiskey Craze Heats Up with Celebs

Banana, peanut butter, chocolate and more. Which one deserves a place in your liquor cabinet?

By Rob Kachelriess

Are we ruining whiskey? Or making it better? Depends on who you ask. Purists often shudder at the thought, but flavored whiskeys are growing in popularity. Cheaper brands may add artificial flavors and sugars to “enhance” the product, but other producers take a more selective craft approach to bring a little sweetness and variation to a quality spirit. Where do you draw the line? The following flavored whiskeys may not be for everyone, but they’re worthy of your consideration, especially if you appreciate a touch of something fun and different to balance the bite of the alcohol.  

Ambros Banana Whiskey

Ambros already scores points for being a Las Vegas product. (Well, Henderson to be technically accurate.) Fortunately, based on taste alone, it’s a welcome addition to any bar. The premium three-year-aged custom whiskey blend from Ireland is infused with real bananas, collected at the time of optimal ripeness. No additional sweeteners needed. The result is an easy sipping whiskey that’s good in a cocktail or all by itself.

The deets: 60 proof, 30% alcohol by volume

Suggested retail price: $39.99 for a 750ml bottle 

So… what does it taste like? Ambros isn’t sugary or sticky sweet. The bananas provide a subtle, natural taste that lingers in the background.

Suggested cocktail: The Banana Vardier is a spin on a Boulevardier. Stir two ounces of Ambros with a half-ounce each of Campari and sweet vermouth in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey

There seems to be a lot of peanut butter or peanut-infused whiskeys hitting the market right now, but Skrewball is clearly gaining the most traction. That’s probably because it’s one of the better tasting versions of the concept. Skrewball was founded by Steven Yeng and Brittany Merrill Yeng, a husband and wife in Ocean Beach, California, whose admiration for unconventional ideas is reflected in the black sheep on the bottle’s label. Skrewball was recently featured in a limited-edition boozy cupcake by Sprinkles and destined for further cross-branding opportunities in the future.

The deets: 70 proof, 35% alcohol by volume

Suggested retail price: $29.99 for a 750ml bottle

So… what does it taste like? Skrewball almost tastes like a syrup, but not thick or overly sweet. There’s no over-the-top Jiff or Skippy-like peanut butter flavor. Just a soft nuttiness that enhances the whiskey without competing with its natural components.

Suggested cocktail: Nothing beats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Enjoy the same flavor profile by mixing two ounces of Skrewball with an ounce of Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur. The combination works best in a rocks glass topped off with ice. You can also modify the recipe as a shot. Just blend the same ingredients in a shaker and strain into a shot glass.

Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey

Old Camp was founded by country duo Florida Georgia Line — a natural match, since the whiskey carries an easy Southern charm that feels right at home at any backyard barbecue or summertime block party. There’s two versions: a classic, blended American whiskey or Peach Pecan. The latter (intentionally made with ingredients common in Georgia and Florida, of course) is designed to be accessible to those who don’t always drink hard liquor, but still contain a deep, rich character to please regular whiskey drinkers. Old Camp whiskey is aged for at least two years in white American oak barrels with a No. 3 char.

The deets: 70 proof, 35% alcohol by volume

Suggested retail price: $19.99 for a 750ml bottle 

So… what does it taste like? To some, the flavored version of Old Camp tastes like a Southern-style peach sweet tea. To others, it’s more like a peach cobbler dessert. Either way, the fruit flavor is prominent, but not overbearing.

Suggested cocktail: Use Old Camp Peach Pecan to spike your favorite lemonade. (Think of it as a boozy take on an Arnold Palmer.) Pour a shot into a tall glass, fill with ice and finish off with lemonade.

BSB-Brown Sugar Bourbon

This particular spirit, founded in 2016 by Heritage Distilling in Washington state, has gone through a few changes in recent months. The brand was sold to entertainer Jamie Foxx, who tried the bourbon at a party and liked it so much, he wanted to buy it. BSB-Brown Sugar Bourbon now has a revamped bottle and label to match an aggressive new marketing campaign. A stronger version, BSB 103, uses the same ingredients, but packs more kick at 103 proof.

The deets: 60 proof, 30% alcohol by volume (BSB 103 is 103 proof, 52% alcohol by volume)

Suggested retail price: $21.99 (or $29.99 for BSB 103) for a 750ml bottle

So… what does it taste like? The bourbon has undertones of molasses (and even a hint of vanilla) that might bring to mind the cinnamon and brown sugar you once sprinkled on Grandma’s homemade oatmeal — and that’s not a bad thing.

Suggested cocktail: An Old Fashioned is a natural, since you’re already more than halfway there with the bourbon and sugar.  Just add a few dashes of bitters and an orange peel (or a cherry if you prefer) — and you’re all set.

8-Ball Chocolate Whiskey

Founded in San Diego, 8-Ball Chocolate Whiskey is ideal for dessert cocktails or as a playful post-dinner digestif. The spirit infuses all-natural chocolate from Madagascar, Indonesia and Mexico with Kentucky bourbon aged for two years in charred American Oak barrels. 8-Ball recently expanded its presence and influence in Las Vegas via a partnership deal with the Maloof family. Don’t be surprised to see a bottle on display during your next visit to a casino bar on the Strip. 

The deets: 66 proof, 33% alcohol by volume

Suggested retail price: $29.99 for a 750ml bottle

So… what does it taste like? Let’s be honest. You’re not going to taste a lot of pure natural whiskey flavor in this. The chocolate is easily the dominating element with a taste that resembles a hot fudge sundae or chocolate milkshake.

Suggested cocktail: 8-Ball is almost a cocktail all by itself. Mix it together with equal parts of the aforementioned Skrewball for a boozy liquid peanut butter cup or simply add a shot to your coffee for an instant chocolate latte. Blend in your choice of milk or cream before adding a touch of whipped cream on top. 

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