Whisky Advocate

Red Stag (black cherry infused bourbon)

March 3rd, 2009

Jim Beam will be debuting a new bourbon product in June. It’s called Red Stag, and it’s described as “Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey infused with natural flavors.” (While the label doesn’t identified it as such, the closest category I would put it in is “liqueur.”) The label states “Black Cherry” as the main flavor. It’s bottled at 40% ABV.

I was on the list of writers to get an advanced review bottle. I got it yesterday and tried it informally last night. (It was my companion while watching two hours of “24” on TV. There certainly were plenty of commercials for me to contemplate what I was drinking.)

I like the fact that the bourbon notes come through very clearly. The black cherry flavors married nicely with the bourbon notes. It’s too sweet to drink neat. I enjoyed it on the rocks, which helped to cut through some of the sweetness.

I also tried it once with a a bit of lemon juice, which also helped to tone down the sweetness. Then, I tried it with a dash of bitters to make my own pseudo-Manhattan, which I also enjoyed. (Like I said, there were a lot of commercials, so Red Stag kept me entertained.)

Bottom line here: I like it. And if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can control the sweetness by adding bitters or lemon (or some other citrus-based juice) as you see fit.  It’s a nice change of pace.

If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get to drizzle some on vanilla ice cream tonight. (Pretty please, with a Red Stag on top!)

12 Responses to “Red Stag (black cherry infused bourbon)”

  1. DavidG says:

    How similar (or dissimilar) is it to the cherry-flavored Phillips Union – a bourbon and Canadian Whiskey blend?

  2. John Hansell says:

    DavidG, I like the cherry flavor better in Red Stag. I also like the fact that the bourbon comes through more in Red Stag.

  3. Todd says:

    John, thanks for the assessment. I will have to give a try. Sounds like the Macallan Amber, which I was prepared to dislike as a matter of principle, but it is actually pretty good! On the other hand, I didn’t care for any of the Phillips Union concoctions.

  4. Tom says:

    John, I was excited to hear you were watching 24. Did you catch the reference to whiskey. I think the chief of staff offered the surly senator a drink in the oval office and said something like, “If it isn’t from Kentucky it ain’t whiskey.” He should of said bourbon whiskey.

  5. John Hansell says:

    Todd, I wasn’t a big fan of the Phillips Union either (although my neighbor who I gave my samples to loved the stuff). Red Stag is sweet, but I still could taste the bourbon. For my own taste, I think adding just a tad more bourbon to Red Stag would make it even more appealing.

    Tom, see my posting that follows this one.

  6. Kevin says:

    A friend of mine just got a bottle of this – I’m looking forward to giving it a try…..

  7. Suzy Coe says:

    Tried it and loved, loved, loved it. I typically drink my bourbon mixed with coke (I know, I know). This one, however, I enjoyed over ice last night.


  8. AVB says:

    Hard to comment until I found some but I do have to ask how did you rid yourself of that horrid aftertaste? 15 minutes after drinking a 3 parts bourbon, 1 part Red Stag over ice I could still taste it and it wasn’t good.

    I think the cherry completely overwhelms any bourbon flavoring, they could have used blended whiskey and I don’t think anyone would have noticed the difference.

    Lastly, I am wondering how they are getting away with the advertising of “A New Breed of Bourbon” It isn’t bourbon, it can’t be. Title 27, Part 5, subpart ca3 says: “Harmless coloring, flavoring, and blending materials” shall not include (i) any material which would render the product to which it is added an imitation, or (ii) any material, other than caramel, infusion of oak chips, and sugar, in the case of Cognac brandy; or (iii) any material whatsoever in the case of neutral spirits or straight whiskey, except that vodka may be treated with sugar in an amount not to exceed 2 grams per liter and a trace amount of citric acid.” The “any material whatsoever” part of the the regs would seem to preclude it being called Straight Bourbon.

    Anyway, the stuff is nasty and I hope it fails before any of the other distilleries start doing the same. Bourbon drinkers don’t need a new flavor one-upsmanship like the vodka and rum makers are doing.

    • John Hansell says:

      AVB, it’s basically a bourbon liqueur. If you go in thinking it’s a bourbon, you will be disappointed, because it’s not a bourbon. If you don’t like bourbon liqueurs, then you probably won’t like this one either. Given that it is a bourbon liqueur and not bourbon, I enjoyed it the way I drank it. (On the rocks, with an extra shot of bourbon and a dash of bitters.) But it’s not something I drink every day.

  9. AVB says:

    I agree that it is either a flavored whiskey or a liqueur and should be presented as such. What I find objectionable is the way it is being presented. It is not “A New Breed of Bourbon” since it isn’t bourbon at all.

    I do enjoy a glass of Drambuie once in a while but I’m not to fond of American Honey. Far too sweet for me. At least they are both listed as liqueurs and not advertised as something they aren’t.

  10. Dianne says:

    Even if it tastes like a liqueur, the label identifies it as a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Has the law dictating what exactly a bourbon is been changed? Or does it just not apply to Jim Beam?

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